OTL Home Guide
Guide/
 

Backpacking

Hiking in our immediate area is intense. The trails are steep and the views are grand. Because the mountains rise so sharply from the valleys, the big peaks of Baldy, Iron, Gorgonio, Jacinto, etc. are no easy accomplishment. Upon reaching the summit, however, these peaks provide mind-blowing vistas. During these quick altitude changes you'll get to see amazing changes in the wildlife. Many hikes start among Yucca and other desert plants and end up in pine forests. Some even top out above treeline. Keep your eyes open for Big Horn Sheep!

The hikes described in the following section are a tiny portion of the hikes in our area. These are meant as only an introduction to the endless possibilities. Get a copy of the guidebooks listed - they describe hundreds of trails. Directions to trailheads may be the best service of the section - from there you can usually do scores of hikes not mentioned in this book.

With the dry, hot climate of the area water becomes a major concern while hiking these steep trails. Most "Safety Notes" sections advise bringing lots of water - don't ignore this warning, especially if backpacking. While some areas such as the Sierras are great for cross country hiking, most hikes here are through very delicate terrain that my not be stable off trails. Unless the hike suggests off-trail travel, do not leave the trails.

 

Bridge to Nowhere

Highlights:

Trail: 9 miles extendible, 750 ft. net vertical gain Time: day trip with possible camping. Driving: 1 hour on road Difficulty: There are several stream crossings. Your boots will get wet, you will have to do some route fmding. Season: Any, but beware of high water in the spring if it has been a wet winter.

Relevant Guidebooks:

The best map is the National Forest Angeles High I Country Map which is 1 : 50,000 scale or 1 :63,500 scale and is available at RE1 for $9. USGS 7.5' Maps: Crystal Lake, Mt. San Antonio, and Mt. Baldy are available in the OTL Gear room as is the Angeles High Country Map.

Directions:

From Claremont take 1-210 West to AzusaBlvd. Turn left following the National Forest sign. Thentake an immediate right on Azusa Blvd. and follow itthrough town and up into the mountains for 11 miles andturn right (East) toward East Fork. Continue 6 miles andjust after passing Oaks picnic area you turn left as the roaddoes a hairpin turn. This is easy to miss, but there is onlyone hairpin turn (switch back) on the road. Drive 314s of amile until the road ends in the East Fork Parking Area.

Description:

Backpackers scorn the beauty of LA becausethey feel that what's manmade has overrun nature.Take an instance where man tried to overwhelm nature butonly left evidence of his failed attempt and backpackerslove to visit this place of nature's tested dominance.k Bridge to Nowhere is one such place. Some poor folkstried to build a road through the forest, but instead of aroad, all that is left is a huge concrete bridge spanning oneof the most beautiful gorges in Southern California. Youcross the bridge and go back in time. Following the cascadingriver upstream, you will find the Stanley Millermine, evidence of the obsessive miners who were willingto do anything to get a little gold. On this hike you canfind the remains of Miller's stone hut, where he was shotwhile cheating in a game of poker. In a well camouflagesshelter lives a hermit named David who will take you to this place. He has lived in the forest for 5 years, and I am sure he will still be there whenyou arrive. Tell him that he is a legend, a prospector, who really earned a living from gold. From the East Fork parking lot follow the paved road through the gate to the walk-in campground. This is the place for car camping because itis only a tenth of a mile hike and has nice picnic tablesand tent sites. After the campground, the road turns into atrail and follows the river for 3.5 miles. You will have tocross the river many times. Give up early and just wadethrough, but be sure to wear wool socks with liners andlace your boots tightly. After 3.5 miles the trail makes anobvious switch back and ascends to the East or Right sideof the river. It still parallels the river, but takes you on adry and more easily navigable hike out of the gorge. Hereyou gain about 300 feet in elevation over the course of amile and come to the Bridge after hiking a total of 4.6miles. You can end your hike at the Bridge or continueupstream to the Stanley Miller Mine area and find goodswimming holes to the North (upstream) of the Bridge.Continuing past the Bridge, there is a large tunnelwithin ten minutes of walking. The tunnel opening is onlyabout 3 feet high, but is ten feet wide. There are Cairnsand graffiti that mark the entrance to the tunnel. Both thetunnel and the Bridge were part of the failed project tobuild a road connecting the towns of Azusa and Wrightwood.Continue hiking for another mile past the Tunneland you will pass many excellent swimming holes. Thereare also good backpacking camp sites along the river. 1.5miles upstream is the well camouflaged home of David,the prospector. He is about 35 years old and has traveledthe world. He knows this area better than anyone else andwill show you the way to Miller's home and will tell youabout mining in the area. If you want to go to the StanleyMiller Mine, it will take an additional fill day. You caneither explore on your own, or bring lots of extra food forDavid and he might take you there. According to David, the mine is quite large and has much of the old machinery intact. There is no trail to themine, although some Topo maps show one. There is also nopossible way to summit Iron Mountain from the East Fork, Bridge to Nowhere area. Return the way you came, go faster than the way out because you knowthe trail and will be traveling downhill.

Safety Notes:

Bring a bright flashlight to explore the Tunnel.Bring extra socks to change to prevent blisters. If you arebackpacking you can dry your socks on your stomachwhile you sleep if the weather is cold, or hang them to dryoutside if the weather is warm. Backpackers need both an overnightpermit and a stove permit. Day hikers do not need anypermits.

Back to top

 

Devil's Punchbowl Loop

Highlights:

Trail: 21 miles, 5000ft. vertical gain and loss Time: 2 full days round-trip. Driving: 2 hours on road Difficulty: Long but scenic, one strenuous section: Day 1: 12 miles, Day 2: 10 miles (4000A elevation gain). Season: September-November; March-June (Best)

Relevant Guidebooks/Maps:

Go to Topozone.com to get maps of this location.USGS 7.5' Maps: Crystal Lake, Waterman, Juniper,and Valyerrno are available in the OTL Gear room. UsefulGuidebooks: 1OI Hikes in Southern Culi$ornia byJerry Schad includes pieces of this hike with informativedescriptions. Also, John W. Robinson's Trails of the Angeles:100 Hikes in the Sun Gabriels, includes part of thishike and has a somewhat useful map, though not sufficientfor hiking.For the most convenient Ranger Station, after driving9 miles on Highway 2 turn left on National ForestHighway 59 toward "The Pines", this is the only timethere is a paved left turn before Switzer Picnic Area.Also, along Highway 2, 5 miles after you leave the Freeway,there is a Forest Service Facility where you can oftenfind a ranger. Both offices are only open fiom 8:30-4:30.You can call ahead for a permit and arrange to pick it upoutside the office if you are getting in late. Ranger phonenumber at Arroyo Seco Station is (8 1 8) 790- 1 1 5 1.

Directions:

From Claremont take 1-210 West for 24 miles .to Highway 2. Be careful to stay on 1-210 when it splitsfrom Highway 134. From 1-21 0, exit Highway 2 North(turn right) and drive 9 miles to Switzer visitor center andcontinue on Highway 2 for another 15 miles until youreach Eagles Roost Picnic Area and park there.Rules: Backpackers need both an overnight permit and astove permit. You can get permits at the Ranger Station atSwitzer (see resources).

Description:

Devil's Punchbowl is one of the most scenichiking areas in the San Gabriel's. This hike offers variedlandscapes and vegetation, huge alpine panoramicviews, and great wildlife viewing opportunities. Big hornsheep, deer, and many bird species are abundant in thisarea. You might even see a mountain lion or a bear.Leave the Eagles Roost Picnic Area on the PacificCrest Trail going West. Follow the trail for 3 miles untilyou reach the National Recreation Trail, that goes off tothe north. Turn right, following the forest sign towardDevils Punchbowl and Devils Chair (there may or may notbe a sign). The trail gradually ascends 1200ft in the next 3k miles. The next 2 miles descend 2000 feet and you cross ariver. So far you have hiked 8 miles. The next four milesare rolling hills and you will cross several streams. Youcan camp near any of these streams if it is getting late.However, the best campsite is at 12 miles. You will godown a series of switch backs (descending 700A. in 0.8miles) after crossing Devils Chair ( a spectacular rock formationthat you can see from your campsite at sunset). Afterthe switch backs you will come to river. Follow the river upstream 100-200 yards and pick a campsite at least200ft away from the water.On the second day, the first half mile is a gradualdescent, but then you climb 500 feet in a mile. After 2.2miles you will reach the South Fork Campground which ispopular on the weekends. This is the most crowded sectionof the trail. Continue southward from South ForkCampground for 4 miles climbing 2000ft. Here you reachthe Highway 2, but you still have a good hike left. At thesame place you reach the Highway 2 Trailhead the PacificCrest Trail goes to the northwest, follow it. It ascends another1200ft in the next 1.5 miles. Then you descend forthe next mile and cross Highway 2. The last half mile iseasy, and you reach Eagles Roost after a 10 mile hike with4000ft of elevation gain.

Safety Notes:

Little Jimmy Campground is located one mile pastEagles Roost along Highway 2. It is not the greatest placein the world, but is a reasonable place to camp on Fridaynight in order to get an early start on Saturday morning.Check with the rangers for availability but the campgroundis rarely full.

Back to top

 

Icehouse Canyon

Highlights:

Trail: 10 miles, 3000 ft. vertical Time: Overnight with possible extensions Driving: 30 minutes Difficulty: steep, but simple Season: September-November; March-June; also possible in winter

Relevant Maps:

USGS 7.5' Maps: Mt. Baldy, Cucamonga Peak, and Telegraph Peak are available in the OTL Gear room. Usefull Guidebooks: Trails of the ANgeles by John Robinson includes pieces of this hike with informative descriptions. Mt Baldy Ranger Stations: (818)-335-1251

Directions:

From Claremont take Mills Ave. North untilyou reach Mt. Baldy Road. Turn right and drive upthrough the village (passing the ranger station) to the wellmarked parking lot for Icehouse Canyon. Keep rightwhere the road forks just after Baldy Village.Rules: Backpackers need both an overnight permit, stovepermit, and parking pass. Call ahead of time for availabilitybecause there are limited backpacking permits forspring and summer weekends. Forest Adventure Pass required.

Description:

This hike is a great opportunity to sneak away from campus for a short night or up to a long weekend. From the parking lot it is less than four miles to Icehouse Saddle along a very well marked trail going through the canyon. For the first 1.5 miles you follow the river and pass many cabins, then the Chapman trail splits off, and you follow the main trail upwards. 3 miles into the hike you pass the Columbine Spring which is the last water aside from snow on the peak, after the spring the trail begins switching back steeply until you reach Icehouse Saddle offering spectacular views (especially if you climb to the top of the 20 foot ridge) of Baldy to the north and the valleys both east and west in the San Gabriels. From the top of Icehouse Saddle follow the trail north toward Telegraph Peak. As you hike over the ridge and gain a full view of Baldy, the trail curves west around Timber Mountain. When you are due west of Timber Peak, which is the first peak you encounter after Icehouse Saddle, look west instead of following the trail east. There is a plateau jutting west/northwest that makes an excellent campsite, it should be marked by a pile of rocks. On the USGS 7.5 Cucamonga Peak Map, your campsite is on the "8" in the 8,000 marking the elevation just west of Timber Peak. If you fail to find this site, you can camp anywhere in the area as long as you are at least 200ft away from the trail. From your site you can watch the sun set beyond the foothills of the San Gabriels as the moon chases it across the sky and sets in the sun's wake. This is LA, the place of never ending sunsets as the light of 11 million people keeps the horizon at a glow till the morning sun turns the mountains orange and overwhelms the city. Return the way you came for a 1 0 mile round trip hike. Additional Options: There are several good day hikes fiom this location. The trail continues to Mt. Baldy Notch, just an additional 4 miles where you can ride the ski lift down on weekends all year. From the Baldy parking lot you should not have much of a problem hitching a ride to Icehouse Canyon parking lot 3.5 miles down the road.

Safety Notes:

Backpackers need both an overnight permit, stovepermit, and parking pass. Call ahead of time for availabilitybecause there are limited backpacking permits forspring and summer weekends. Forest Adventure Pass required. Altitude sickness is not often a problem, howeverif you feel a headache, nausea, or severe shortness ofbreath descend immediately.

Back to top

 

Fishbowls Swimming Holes

Highlights:

Trail: 1 1 miles, 1000 ft. vertical Time: 2 days round-trip. Driving: 2.5 hours depending on traffic Difficulty: Easy, one steep section, lots of swimming holes. Season: April-October You must check for road closures (Mount Pinos Ranger District (661) 245-373 1) The hotter the better for this trip.

Relevant Guidebooks/Maps:

USGS 7.5' Maps: Lockwood Valley, McDonald Peak, Cuddy Valley, and Frazier Mtn. are available in the OTL Gear room. Even better is a National Park laminated trails map 1:50,000 scale available at REI. Ranger Station is Mount Pinos Ranger District (661) 245-3731.

Directions:

From Claremont take 1-2 1 0 West for 3 8 milesand then go north on 1-5. Take 1-5 northbound for 6 milesuntil you reach Frazier Mountain Road (there will be aNational Forest Sign). Frazier Mountain Road is just afterthe town of Gorman. If you reach the town of Lebec on I-5 you have gone too far. Follow Frazier Mountain Roadfor 7 miles to where it goes into the town of Lake of theWoods and then forks north-South. Go South on 9N03 orLockwood Valley Road as you leave Lake of the Woods.Follow Lockwood Valley Road for 10 miles until youreach the turnoff for Thorn Meadows and Pine SpringsCampgrounds (Road 7N03). For a shorter first day, continuepast Pine Springs Campground 3.2 miles after theturnoff and go another 3.7 miles to Fishbowls trailheadabout 5 miles fiom your turnoff. For a longer first day, buteasier second day, continue along 7N03 past the turnofffor Fishbowls for another 1.5 miles and turn right 7N03Ctoward Thorn Meadows campground. Park at the trailheadfor the Fishbowls at the Cedar Creek Trail.

Description:

This hike has awesome swimming holes and a nice backcountry campground that might be have other campers but offers a great camping opportunity for easy backpacking. The hike is quite scenic and follows the river almost the entire time. For a more remote experience, camp to the north of Fishbowls campground along Piru Creek. One half mile north of Fishbowls campground a spring feeds into the river and will offer a deeper swimming area, camp downstream (to the north) of where this spring feeds in. There are many flat areas along the stream to camp. There are a series of 3 foot waterfalls just to the South of Fishbowls campground. The trail is a simple 11 mile loop and is easy to follow. Stream crossings will require you to get wet during the spring season. The timing of the hike varies by how you do the loop. For an easier first day, leave from the north entrance parking at the Fishbowls trailhead on 7N03, the trail is flat for 5 miles all the way to Fishbowls campground. The 1.5 miles of trail South of the Fishbowls climbs 700ft (which is what makes this area great for swimming). Then the following mile descends 700fl and there is an easy flat 2 miles to return to the road 7N03. To connect the trails you will have to hike for 1.3 miles on the road. You meet road 7N03C and hike for 0.75 miles. Turn Left on 7N03 and hike 0.5 miles to your car. For a harder first day, leave from the trailhead on 7N03C (the road that goes to Thorn Meadows Campground). Hike to Cedar Creek Campsite 3 miles in on the Cedar Creek Trial which goes to the Fishbowls. Once you reach Cedar Creek the trail gets steep and you climb over the 3 mile pass of switch backs. This ascent is very steep (1000ft in one mile) and there is no water between Cedar Creek and the Fishbowls campground 2.5 miles later. Once you reach the Fishbowls, the difficult part of your hike is done and you are ready to go swimming and camp in either fie campground or along the river one mile north of the campground. Variations: You can park your car at the northern Trailhead and hike 1.5 miles on the road and then do the long fvst day option for a total of 7 miles the first day, leaving an easy 4 miles of relatively flat downhill for the second day.

Safety Notes:

Bring extra socks to change to prevent blisters. Ifyou are backpacking you can dry your socks on yourstomach while you sleep if the weather is cold, or hangthem to dry outside if the weather is warm. Peak hike elevationis 6,000A. The Fishbowls campground is often full on springand summer weekends. Call 1-2 weeks in advance to reservea campsite at the Fishbowls campground. Also, youcan still backpack even if Fishbowls is fill by requesting apermit that will allow you to camp alongside the trail tothe north of the campground instead of at the campground.The Ranger Station is the Mount Pinos Ranger District(661) 245-373 1. Otherwise, you can still backpack with apermit but must camp elsewhere (which is a good optionfor a more remote experience). Backpackers need both anovernight permit and a stove permit. You need a ForestAdventure Pass to park in the National Forest.

Back to top

 

Mt. Lowe Front Country Loop

Highlights:

Trail: 16.4 miles, 2500 ft. gross vertical gain Time: 2 days, 2 nights round-trip. Driving: 1.5 Hours Difficulty: Day 1: 3.6 miles; Day 2: 6.3 miles climbing 2500 ft.; Day 3: 6.5 Season: This makes a good local winter trip because of I its relatively low elevation. There may be snow in January and February. Highlights: LA and ocean views; an awesome canyon hike alongside a river.

Relevant Guidebooks/Maps:

GThe best map is the Angeles Front Country Trail Map, which is a 1:63,360 scale (1 inch is a mile), but has Topo lines and a clearly marked trail and campsites. The gear room has two of these and they are available at RE1 for $9. USGS 7.5' Maps: Condor Peak, Pasadena, Chilao Flat, and Mt. Wilson are available in the OTL Gear room. Useful Guidebooks: Schad, Jerry. 101 Hikes in Southern California Wilderness Press: 1996. includes pieces of this hike with informative descriptions. For part of this hike and a somewhat useful map see: Robinson, John W. Trails of the Angeles: 100 Hikes in the San Gabriels. Wilderness Press 1998, 7th Edition.

Directions:

From Claremont take 1-21 0 West for 24 milesto Highway 2. Be careful to stay on 1-210 when it splitsfrom Highway 134. From 1-210, exit Highway 2 North(turn right) and drive 9 miles to Switzer visitor center andcontinue on Highway 2 for another mile to Switzer Parking/Picnic area. The Switzer picnic area is well markedby a National Park Road sign that says "Switzer" and hasa picnic table picture. Leave your car at the picnic areaand begin your hike following the Switzer trail westward.

Description:

This front country hike offers good views ofLA and the ocean from atop Mt. Lowe at 5603 ft. Afterleaving the popular Switzer picnic area the trail descendsslowly into Red Box Canyon with multiple pools forswimming, lush vegetation, and smooth canyon walls.Departing from the Switzer Picnic Area, cross thebridge and hike westward on the trail that begins as a roadinto the wilderness and slowly fades into a hiker's route.Traveling for 1.4 miles through this weekend wildernessescape used by far too many Pasadena residents, you willreach Switzer Camp. This area is not the ideal place tocamp, but if you arrive late on Friday night and leaveearly on Saturday you will miss the crowds even here.Beyond Switzer Camp the casual hikers fade and the trailbecomes more scenic. Another 2.2 miles of a gradual descenttakes you to Bear Canyon camp with fire pits andpicnic tables alongside a river. You must fill water here.There is no water for the next 6.3 miles until you reach theValley Forge camp where you spend your second night.This is the best place to camp in the canyon because youwill not be able to find another flat area in which to pitchyour tent.On the second day, continue along the trail 1.8miles to Tom Sloane saddle. Three trails meet here. Donot take the southward trail that goes toward Dawn minenor the Bear Canyon trail eastward which goes to a fireroad. Take the middle trail, which is the Sloane trail 1.9miles ascending southeast toward Mt. Lowe. You willreach a fire road, turn right (south), and hike less that ?4 amile to the trail that has a sign for Mt. Lowe. It is 1.4miles to the top via the left or West trail, or 1.2 miles viathe right or East trail. The western trail is a nicer hike, butviews are good from either trail. From the top of Mt.Lowe you can see Mt. Disappointment (named by surveyorswho hiked to the top in hopes that they had found thehighest peak in the area) and San Gabriel peak (which isthe highest peak in the area). Both Disappointment andSan Gabriel have radio towers on them, so they are poorplaces to camp. Descend Mt. Lowe going northeast followingthe Markman trail. It is a steep 1.1 mile descent toMarkman Saddle where you reach a fire road. Follow thefire road due east for a % mile until you reach the pavedroad that goes to Mt. Wilson. Here you cross the road andpick up the trail that goes to Valley Forge camp. It is a2.7 mile descent in a huge canyon with awesome views ofthe San Gabriel Wilderness Area When you reach the Tintersection after this 2.7 mile trek, you meet the Gabrielino Trail, turn right, west, and find the Valley Forgecamp within a few hundred yards of your intersection. Ifthere are other people at this camp, continue hiking alongthe river and there are other good sites that have better privacy.Spend the second night here.On the third day follow the Gabrielino trail Westfor 2.3 miles to Red Box Camp, a public parking lot thathas clean water available. From Red Box you continue onthe Gabrielino trail for an easy 4.2 mile descent throughCloudburst Canyon. You complete the hike back at SwitzersPicnic area.

Safety Notes:

There is no water available near Mt. Lowe so besure to bring extra water containers. This is not a very remotetrip, but still offers some good hiking, nearby, atlower elevation. For a group of two, this trip can be shortenedby 5 miles by hitchhiking from where you cross theroad on day 2 at Eaton Saddle. Hitchhike down the roadto Red Box camp and pick up the trail there. Also, the tripcan be shortened by 3 miles for a larger group by followingthe trail to Mt. Disappointment. From Markman Saddlehike due North on the trail (not the fire road). Thetrail crosses Mt Disappointment and meets up. with theroad to Mt. Wilson 2.3 miles from Markman Saddle. Hikefor a half mile on the road to Red Box camp and resumeyour hike there.The nearest Ranger Station is located adjacent tothe trailhead. After driving 9 miles on Highway 2 turn lefton National Forest Highway 59 toward "The Pines", thisis the only time there is a paved left tum before the trailhead.Also, along Highway 2 halfway between the 210and the trailhead there is a Forest Service Facility where\ you can often find a ranger. Both offices are only openfrom 8:30-4:30. You can call ahead for a permit and arrangeto pick it up outside the office if you are getting inlate. The ranger phone number at Arroyo Seco Station is(818) 790-1 151.

Back to top

 

Mt.San Gorgonio Dry Lake and Dollar Lake Loop

Highlights:

Trail: 23 miles, 4700 ft. vertical Time: 2 long days round-trip. Difificulty: moderate, non-technical. Season: September-November; March-June (Best)

Relevant Guidebooks/Maps:

USGS 7.5' Maps: Moonridge and San Gorgonio are available in the OTL Gear room. Useful Guidebooks: 101 Hikes in Southern California by Jerry Schad includes pieces of this hike with informative descriptions.

Directions:

From Claremont take 1-10 East to Redlands 1( 33 miles), take the Ford Street Exit and turn left (north).Go 1 mile on Ford Street and turn Right on East CitrusAve. Drive 2 miles on Citrus, and then turn left on CraftonAve. After 1 mile on Crafton you reach MentoneBlvd. which becomes Mill Creek Rd. which becomesHighway 38. After 4 miles on Mentone Mill Creek RdHighway 38 you will reach Mill Creek Ranger Station.STOP AND GET A PERMIT. Continue on Highway 38for 18 miles past Mill Creek Ranger Station. Turn righton Jenks Lake Road which is poorly marked. FollowJenks Lake Road 3 miles to the South fork Trailhead parkinglot.Rules: You must have a permit to go beyond the firstcouple miles of the hike. Backpackers need both an overnightpermit and a stove permit. Call ahead of time foravailability because there are limited backpacking permits.Everything is available at Mill Creek Ranger Station(Phone #: 909-794-1 123).

Description:

Gorgonio is the highest peak in SouthernCalifornia at 11,499. This windswept rock protrudesfrom the dense forest as a giant monolith. The top is cold,windy, and steep. Not only is the view spectacular, but atmany points during this 12 mile ascent you can see yourtarget shinning above the wilderness.Following the South Fork Trail from the parkinglot you will pass bathrooms, water, and informationboards (but no pay phone). Follow the South Fork trailout of the parking lot which will take you Southward andup a densely forested canyon. At 1.5 miles you will pass ahorsecamp and barn which marks your departure fromcivilization. At 3.5 miles from the parking lot you willpass a sign stating that permits are required. There is asmall trail to the left after the sign, follow it 50 yards for aspectacular view of San Gorgonio. Then return back tothe mail trail and continue for another half mile to whereSouth Fork Trail splits into Dollar Lake Trail and DryLake Trail (elevation 8080). 50 yards down the Dry LakeTrail there is a large stream which will flow even whenthe lakes are dry. Don't bother with water in the springbecause you are not far from the lakes. Dollar lake isI smaller and nestled in a bowl, but the area offers bettercampsites and a slightly easier ascent to San Gorgonio.Follow Dollar Lake Trail from South Fork Trail. 5.9miles from your beginning or 2.4 miles from the South1 Fork Trail you will pass a large manzanita-cover patch onthe mountainside. This is the turnoff to Dollar Lake and itis easy to miss. The trail to the summit makes a sharp ascentin an open area, just below it is the spur trail, so itshould be obvious once you have missed your turn. Lookfor stacked rocks which mark the spur. This little trail descendsslightly for a windy half mile to Dollar lake(elevation 92 1 9). Spend the night here.The next morning start early for a tough ascent tothe top of San Gorgonio. It is a 4.2 mile hike to the summitwith an elevation gain of 2300 feet. The last twomiles are above treeline, but are not technical. The summitis truly exceptional as you can see most of the SanBernardino National forest but also look down upon theurbanites as 1-1 0 makes a thin line on the horizon.The descent has more switchbacks than the ascentas you follow the Dry Lake Trail northeast (note that itwraps around the south face of the mountain). From thesummit, it is 4.2 miles to Dry Lake (elevation 9065),which makes the perfect lunch/dinner spot as the lake liesat the end of a golden meadow. The descent from Dry. lake is an easy 2.3 miles back to the South Fork Trail. Retracethe original 4 miles.

Safety Notes:

You must have a permit to go beyond the firstcouple miles of the hike. Backpackers need both an overnightpermit and a stove permit. Call ahead of time foravailability because there are limited backpacking permits.Everything is available at Mill Creek Ranger Station(Phone #: 909-794-1 123). THERE MAY NOT BE WATER ON THETRAIL. Dry Lake and Dollar Lake are rarely dry, but inthe fall make sure you confirm that there is water. Even ifthese lakes are dry the creek that you cross when the DryLake Trail meets the South Fork Trail almost always haswater. Because of the stagnant water sources you musthave a filter cheesecloth for filtration. Iodine will notwork. Altitude sickness is not often a problem, however ifyou feel a headache, nausea, or severe shortness of breathdescend immediately.

Back to top

 

Iron Mountain via Hwy. 39

Highlights:

Iron Mountain is the least accessible mountain in LA County. Anyone who survives its 11 hour round trip will certainly feel that they have climbed a mountain. The summit offers a wide, flat piece of ground which would serve well as an overnight destination.

Relevant Guidebooks/Maps:

Trails of the Angeles, Mtn. San Antonio topo map.

Directions:

Take 210 West to 39 North in Azusa. Turn right at the junction and park at the East Fork Ranger Station.

Description:

Potential climbers of Big Iron should start very early in the morning at the East Fork Ranger Station, 18 miles from Azusa. Walk past the locked gate and follow the old East Fork Road for a quarter mile or so to a small clump of pine trees. On the right side an old rusty is hidden which says, "Heaton Flat Trail." Follow this trail up the slope to the ridge top along which the trail rides over several bumps to a prominent saddle at 4582'. Here the trail more or less ends at an old orange, rusty metal triangle on a pole. Old trails head down into Coldwater Canyon on the right and around the slope to Allison Mine on the left. Do not follow these trails, rather just follow an old scrambling trail straight up the ridge to the North. Continue up this incredibly steep and open ridge above the chaparral line at about 6500' where the going becomes much easier. Continue on to the 8007' summit where the weary hike will be rewarded with sweeping views of the San Gabriel River country, the most wild terrain in the LA area. Note the ridge leading east to Mt. Baldy. Climbers have reached Big Iron via this route as well (see "Iron Mountain via Mt. Baldy"). Keep an eye out for bighorn sheep!

Safety Notes:

This is a very strenuous hike with a 6000' foot gain in over 16 miles. It is not recommended May-September. Bring lots of water and food - at least one gallon of water/person. The East Fork Ranger Station at the parking lot is the nearest ranger station.

Back to top

 

Iron Mountain via Mt. Baldy

Highlights:

Iron Mountain is the most remote peak in the San Gabriels and is a challenging backpacking trip. Of the two acceptable ways to climb Iron Mountain, this is the longer yet much more enjoyable one.

Relevant Guidebook/Maps:

USGS Topo - Mount San Antonio

Directions:

Same as "Mt. Baldy via the Ski Hut."

Description:

After the "warm up" climb up Mt. Baldy, the route follows the San Antonio Ridge through some of the most desolate country in the LA area. The final pitch to the summit of Iron Mountain is class 3 and fits well as the ending of a grueling full day climb. Follow any of the three routes to the summit of Mt. Baldy (Ski Hut, Bear Flat, or Devil's Backbone). From there, traverse to the western summit and continue walking along the ridge due west (a topo would be helpful here). Way down below, along the San Antonio Ridge, one can see the isolated massif of Iron Mountain. It looks like an impossible task for one day, but continue on. Be careful to stay right on top of the ridge line, because the bushes can get quite fierce off on the side slopes. After dropping down over two thousand feet, you will come to a saddle which seems to be the start of the long ridgeline over to Iron Mountain. From this saddle climb up over peak 7903 and across to peak 7758, which has an old orange tire on top. From there you drop down to the final saddle and begin the rocky and exhilarating climb to the summit. Be careful, for some of the pitches can be difficult with a full pack on. After a good ten or eleven hours of hiking, you will come out on the barren flat summit, which serves as a fine spot for camping. The view is wonderful. Enjoy it!

Safety Notes:

This hike should be done during the snow free months of the year, because when OTL leader Peter Leth did this in April, the snow along the upper reaches of the ridge proved to be "a real pain in the ass at times." There is a shallow bowl near the saddle between peaks 7903 and 7758 which serves as a nice wind sheltered spot for camping. Be prepared for two very long days, especially if you want to make it all of the way. 7am till 7pm should usually do it. (For those interested, some seriously insane day hikers have been known to do this hike in one day during the summer months.) Bring lots of water and check the weather. This hike is for the experienced hiker in good physical shape.

Back to top

 

Mt. Baldy via Bear Flats

Highlights:

A lesser known but strenuous ascent of Mt. San Antonio with spectacular views. 14 miles round trip, 5500' elevation gain.

Relevant Guidebooks/Maps:

Trails of the Angeles, USGS Topo Map

Directions:

Drive to Baldy Village (see general map) - Turn left on Bear Canyon Rd. (across from Mt. Baldy Lodge). Drive to the hiking parking and start hiking up the one lane road. A 15-20 minute drive.

Description:

Hike for a few minutes on the one lane road and take the path across the stream past cabins to Bear Flat (a small overgrown weed patch 2 miles from the car). From here the trail becomes exceptionally steep and open. As the trail gets higher it leaves the chaparral and enters a sparsely forested ridgetop where sweeping views of San Antonio Canyon and the Sheep Mtn. Wilderness open up. After traversing a narrow, barren saddle at 9200', the trail enters a true alpine environment full of boulders and weathered lodgepole pine. Soon you reach the summit, usually after 4-7 hours of climbing. Distant peaks include San Gorgonio, San Jacinto, Mt. Pinos, and (on clear days) the Southern Sierra. The hike to Bear Flat itself makes a great half day hike with its beautiful canyon and short drive.

Safety Notes:

It can be hot in summer and snowy in winter - recommended in fall and spring. Carry 3 quarts water per person. The temperature can drop substantially as you climb. Mt. Baldy Village has a USGS Ranger station.

Back to top

 

Mt. Baldy via Devil's Backbone

Highlights:

One of the three ways to the top of Mt. Baldy.

Relevant Maps:

Mt. Baldy topo map.

Directions:

Drive all of the way to the Mt. Baldy Ski Area at the end of the Mt. Baldy road.

Description:

This is the most popular way to climb Baldy. If you have money to burn, you can take the ski lift up to the Notch. If you don't, go back to the trailhead for the Ski Hut and walk three miles up the dirt road to the Notch. From the Notch walk up to the Northern summit of the ski area. From the top of the last lift, follow the ridge in the general direction of Mt. Baldy. Soon it becomes very narrow and the drop down to the right can resemble a great rib cage, hence the name of the route. Back in the old days (the '30s) there used to be a cable attached to several poles along this section so that weary hikers would have something to hold on to. Don't worry though, it's not really that bad. After the backbone, the trail crosses timberline and enters the sparse, often windy area of Mt. Harwood (named after the first female president of the Sierra Club. Yes, the same person for which a certain dormitory is named too). From here you can look down into the Baldy Bowl, which in the winter turns into one giant ski run. After crossing a saddle at 9300 feet, the trail heads straight up the ridge to the summit. A typical hiker should do the round trip from the Notch in about six hours. Add a couple of hours if you're not taking the lift up.

Safety Notes:

Bring water and check the weather. Snow covers Baldy most of the winter.

Back to top

 

Mt. Baldy via Sierra Club Cabin

Highlights:

One of the 3 main routes up Mt. Baldy (Mt. San Antonio).

Relevant Guidebooks/Maps:

Trails of the Angeles, Mt. San Antonio topo map.

Directions:

Go up Mt. Baldy Road past the town of Mt. Baldy. Follow the road up the steep switch backs. About a mile before the ski resort the road branches into several lanes with a median of trees. Look for a left turn that has a big yellow/white gate. Park outside the gate. It is a 20-30 minute drive.

Description:

Hike up the road beyond the gate to San Antonio Falls. Continue up the switchback. When the road begins to bend towards the ski resort look for a trail that goes up the embankment to your left. It is hard to see, so look carefully for a small path heading steeply up the embankment. If you hike for fifteen minutes past the road's switchback you've gone too far and missed the trail. After a hundred yards up the small trail you should pass a sign-in post which tells you that your on the trail. Hike up the trail to the Sierra Club cabin (1.5 - 2 hours) and then follow the trail to the summit of Baldy. In non-snow conditions it takes 3-5 hours to get to the top. With snow allow 6-7 hours and make sure you stay high when blazing the trail through powder. The hike back is much faster - 2-3 hours.

The Sierra Club cabin has been a common OTL spot for non-official trips. You must get the key from a Sierra Club Ski Mountaineer or be invited by someone (a good way to be invited is to go on the maintenance weekend). The cabin has many rustic bunk beds, a common room with a wood stove, and a great kitchen with a spring running through the sink! The cabin is a great spot for trip-leader training weekends. Near the cabin is a classic OTL camping spot. It is at the bottom of the bowl near the rock garden. Go past the cabin and traverse across the bowl. Head up past the rock garden and then past a small drainage to the base of the ridge. This is a steep slope with large trees. There is a great flat spot here protected from avalanches. The giant bowl above the cabin is a giant ski run in the winter.

Safety Notes:

There is snow much of the year, usually December - April. The trail can be difficult to find in snow. Stay high. The only water is the spring near the cabin. Stay clear of open, snow-covered slopes after storms. Don't hike on them at all unless you know how to check for avalanche danger. Be cautious crossing the gullies on the way to the cabin as they slide often after storms. Skiing should be avoided for a few days after storms. There is a ranger station below the town of Mt. Baldy.

Back to top

 

Mt. Ontario and Bighorn Peaks

Highlights:

These two peaks offer not only an awesome view down into Claremont and the surrounding Pomona Valley (much nicer than Sunset Peak) but also have neat close up views of the south faces of Mt. Baldy. Kelly's Camp is one of the best places to camp in the Mt. Baldy area.

Relevant Guidebooks/Maps:

Trails of the Angeles; USGS topo "Cucamonga Peak"

Directions:

Follow directions to Ice House Canyon.

Description:

Follow the description for the Icehouse Canyon hike to Icehouse saddle. From the saddle, take the far right hand trail which backtracks along the ridge to the southwest. Be careful not to go northwest, which leads to Cucamonga Peak. A half-mile of fairly level forested walking takes you to Kelly's Camp. A mining prospect and trail camp at the turn of the century, Kelly's Camp is now a peaceful place to sack out under the stars. From camp the trail gains elevation and enters a burned out lodgepole pine forest. While not so good for the trees, the fire did manage to provide the hiker with awesome vistas out into the Mt. Baldy area. The trail soon gains the ridge (where a 1/2 mile spur trail leads east to Bighorn Peak), hops over and around several downed logs, and traverses to the summit of Ontario Peak (8693'). Try sitting on the topmost rock... if there is a slight breeze it'll feel like you're about to take off on a roller coaster ride. Ontario Peak is two and a half miles from Icehouse Saddle and six and a half miles from the trailhead.

Safety Notes:

You'll need a wilderness permit, even for dayhikes. Get these at the ranger station in Mt. Baldy Village.

Back to top

 

San Gorgonio

Highlights:

San Gorgonio (Old Greyback) is the highest mountain in California (11,499') south of Olancha Peak in the Sierras. It has awesome views of the entire landscape including Big Bear, the Mojave, Joshua Tree, the Coachella Valley, LA Basin, and Baldy. The South Fork Trail replaces the old Poopout Ridge trail and road which were closed in the mid 80's because of overuse. It adds two miles each way to the route, but it is still worth it.

Relevant Guidebooks:

San Bernardino Mountain Trails.

Directions:

From Redlands (east of Pomona on the 10), take Highway 38 into the mountains. After about 25 miles (before Big Bear) there is a turnoff on the right hand side which says "South Fork Trail". This will be not long after an old road to Poopout Hill which is also on the right hand side of the road. Park at the South Fork lot.

Description:

This is the scenic route up San Gorgonio - 16 miles round-trip, 4500' gain. Follow the trail up through meadows and old cabins across the old Poopout Trail to a junction about 2.5 miles in. To the left is Dry Lake (a big meadow with many mosquitoes). Go right and continue up a relentless slope to a pass at 10,000 feet, 5 miles from the start. To the right is the San Bernardino Ridge, which has four peaks above ten thousand feet in four miles. Go left and traverse around Charleston Peak and Mt. Jepson to a junction at 11,000 feet, above timberline. The trail to the right is the "quick" way up the mountain from the valley far below. Continue on to the summit and enjoy the view. There are many ways to go down. Either return the way you came, or continue down the new Mineshaft Pass Trail on the east side of the mountain. This will take you past an old plane wreck on your way back to Dry Lake. If you're crazy, you can hike this sucker in a day, sleeping at your car. Or, if you have more time, try spending the night on the summit of one of the peaks (Peter Leth recommends Charleston) or at the 10,000' saddle. The only water in the area comes in the form of leftover snow pack and the streams down below, so you have to pack it in sometimes. See John Robinson's San Bernardino Mountain Trails book for more detail.

Safety Notes:

San Gorgonio has snow much of the year and weather is always a factor. Summer ascents require extra water and winter may require snow gear. Be prepared for changing conditions as you gain altitude.

Back to top

 

Sunset Peak

Highlights:

A nearby short hike to a good sunset vista.

Relevant Guidebooks/Maps:

Mt. San Antonio Topo Map

Directions:

From campus take Mills (turns into Baldy Rd.) north up to Baldy Village. Turn left on Glendora Ridge Road. Park at the scenic point parking on the right and head across the street to the trailhead.

Description:

The trail is actually a fire road, so you will sometimes see vehicles going to the radio towers that are nearby. The view along the trail is great; there are mountain ranges across the canyon. At one pint there is a big clear space with three possible directions. Take the sharp left turn up the steeper trail. To save time, near the top you can take the east ridge directly to the top, avoiding some of the switchbacks. This hike and the scenic point are also beautiful at night. For once the valley looks good with all the lights. It's a great place to watch meteor showers.

Safety Notes:

If you are planning this hike to view the sunset bring flashlights for the return hike. Baldy Village has pay phones and a range station.

Back to top

 

Tahquitz Peak

Highlights:

Tahquitz Peak, not to be confused with Lily Rock (climbers refer to Lily Rock as Tahquitz), is one of the great summits in the San Jacinto Mts. The summit has awesome views of the Desert Divide, the Salton Sea, the San Jacinto Mts., and the San Bernardinos. The trail also passes through one of the finest Chinquapin stands in Southern California.

Relevant Guidebooks:

San Bernardino Mountain Trails.

Directions:

Take I-10 East to Banning. In Banning take 243 South to Idyllwild. In Idyllwild turn left on Fern Valley Rd. Park at Humbert Park (the end of the road). The drive is about 1.5 hours.

Description:

The trail to Tahquitz Peak is 4 miles each way with a 2000' gain to the 8841' summit. Start up the Devil's Slide Trail from Humbert Park. Because of the trail's many switchbacks it is not very steep. The first two miles climb through a broad forested valley with nice views of Suicide Rock across the valley. Once up on the ridge, take the rightmost fork. Other trails at the junction lead to Mt. San Jacinto, Long Valley (tram to Palm Springs), Round Valley (campground), and other meadows. Many options for backpacking or longer day hikes exist from this junction. From the junction, the trail climbs a gentle ridge, through a large chinquapin stand, traverses the rocky slope above Lily Rock and emerges on the rocky summit, which is the home of a weather-beaten summer fire lookout. See San Bernardino Mountain Trails for descriptions of the many other trails in the area. For information about car camping around Idyllwild see "Suicide Rock" in the climbing section.

Safety Notes:

Bring a windbreaker -- the Desert Divide is one of the windier places in SoCal. Weather is unpredictable. Snow covers the area much of the winter, and conditions can change rapidly. NEVER roll rocks off Tahquitz - climbers are beneath you!

Back to top

 

Guide Home
Introduction
Notes About the Guide
Credits

Destinations
Introduction
Anza Borrego Desert
Chocolate Mountains/Colorado River
Death Valley
East Side Sierras
Joshua Tree National Park
Mountain Home State Park
Mt. Whitney
Sequoia & Kings Canyon
Sespe Wilderness/Hot Springs
Yosemite National Park
Zion National Park

Hiking
Introduction
Bear Creek
Cajon Pass
Cucamonga Canyon
Deep Creek Hot Springs
Grass Mountain
Ice House Canyon
Iron Mountain via Hwy. 39
Iron Mountain via Mt. Baldy
Mt. Baldy via Bear Flats
Mt. Baldy via Devil's Backbone
Mt. Baldy via Sierra Club Cabin
Ontario & Bighorn Peaks
San Gorgonio
Sunset Peak
Tahquitz Peak

Backpacking
Introduction
Bridge to Nowhere
Devil's Punchbowl Loop
Icehouse Canyon
Fishbowls Swimming Holes
Mt. Lowe Front Country Loop
Mt.San Gorgonio Dry Lake and Dollar Lake Loop
Bridge to Nowhere

Climbing
Introduction
Apple Valley
Big Rock
Corona Del Mar
Devil's Punchbowl
Joshua Tree
Point Dume
Red Rocks
Stoney Point
Suicide Rock
Tahquitz Climbing
The Falls
Williamson

Skiing
Introduction
Mount Baldy
Mountain High
Big Bear / Snow Summit
Snow Valley
Mammoth
June Mountain
Tahoe

Biking
Introduction
Cleveland National Forest
Sunset Peak
San Gabriel Foothills

Maps

Equipment