A Trip Up Mt. Konocti

Tom Nixon, a retired Park Ranger, lives in Kelseyville and has led hundreds of climbs up Mt. Konocti. Here is Tom's expert advise for your hike to the top of Mt. Konocti.

As you drive east on Main St. in downtown Kelseyville, you soon become aware of the looming mountain on the horizon that stands like a beacon above this town within lake County’s ‘Big Valley.’ As you approach the high school, turn left on Konocti Rd. The road leads you between the school and its football stadium. In a little over a mile, the pavement ends onto a dirt/gravel road that begins to slowly ascend onto the mountain. For approximately 3 more miles, past private residences, orchards, ranches, and eventually the entrance gate at Mt. Konocti County Park, you will be treated to spectacular views of the Big Valley and Clear Lake before reaching your destination at the main parking in the park.

On the drive up you’ll notice how smoothly the valley blends into the lake. The valley, many thousands of years ago, was once part of the lake. Now the valley is uplifted and tilting northward towards Highway 20, where the lake skirts the towns of Nice, Lucerne and Clearlake Oaks. As you continue to wrap around the mountain road and climb, you’ll also eventually notice views to the south where the Mayacama Range of mountains continue southeasterly towards Cobb Mt., the geothermal fields, and eventually Mt. St. Helena, that towers over the Napa Valley and the town of Calistoga. Directly below you, is the Highway 29 corridor that moves east towards Lower Lake.

Mt. Konocti is technically a ‘composite’ or ‘strato-volcano’ that began laying down layers of hot slow oozing lava between 2 to 1.35 million years ago.

Geology tells us that there were several series of eruptions, each interrupted by periods of inactivity. The shape of today’s volcano was most probably created between 300,000 to 600,000 years ago. The still current hot subterranean magma field is part of the broader Clear lake Volcanic Area, located approximately 5 miles below the earth. The center of this magma field is found underneath Mt. Konocti’s southern volcanic neighbor, Mt. Hannah. Mt. Hannah (elevation 3,976 ft.) lies between Mt. Konocti (elevation 4299 ft. above sea level) and Cobb Mt. (elevation 4,772 ft.) The magma field covers an area of approximately 15-20 miles in diameter and still generates energy as evidenced by the commercial geothermal steam vents near Cobb Mt.

The southern facade of Mt. Konocti, like