Monthly Archives: March 2012

Telegraph Peak via Icehouse Canyon Trail

Telegraph Peak from Icehouse Canyon Saddle is one heck of a challeging hike. Telegraph Peak stands at 8,985 feet; making it the highest point in the Cucamonga Wilderness, and from my experience, it is tougher than Cucamonga Peak by a notch. The elevation gain is about 4500 feet and the last stretch .1 mile or so is as steep as it can get. The peak offers fantastic views of the High Desert, Mt. San Jacinto, Mt. Baldy and the San Gabriel Mountains. as well as other mountains. I would not recommend this hike when there is snow because it is very easy to lose the trail and though I am a very experienced and advanced hiker, I found myself in a situation where I am happy to still be breathing. Also, Telegraph Peak beyond the Icehouse Saddle is not traveled nearly as much as Ontario or Cucamonga Peak, so, it is quite isolated. Of course, isolation can be good, but, if you get lost, no one is going to hear you. But, I am a die hard hiker and I love challenges, although I do not plan to experience what I did on this hike ever again.  To get to the peak, by accessing the trailhead at Icehouse Canyon, you will hike a total of 3.6 miles and gain about 2600 feet to reach the Icehouse Saddle. From there, there are several peaks that you can access as there as signs posted as to which direction your desired peak is. Look for the sign for Telegraph Peak, which will also include Timber and Thunder Mountain, and continue an additional 2.9 miles to the summit. You will reach the Timber Mountain area in about 0.9 miles and then you will descend about 200 feet into the saddle between Timber and Telegraph, just remember you will have to ascend this back up, and after gaining about 4500 feet reaching Telegraph and then descending down the switchbacks of Telegraph to get back to this saddle again; well, it will make couple hundred feet seem like a lot more. But, if you love the challenge and are an experienced hiker, I say go for it! The views from Telegraph are amazing and there is also a register that you can sign as well.

View of Mt. Baldy from Telegraph Peak.

Keep in mind that to even reach the Icehouse Saddle and come back; this wil be about 7.2 miles with a gain of 2600 feet. Icehouse Canyon Trail is no joke, but well worth the workout. With any of these peaks, if you decide go to past the Icehouse Saddle, it is good to pace yourself and not rush. Save your energy because you will need it to conquer peaks in the Cucamonga Wilderness. There is another way to access Telegraph Peak from the Manker Flats, but the gain is about 3500 as oppose to 4500. But to really experience the challenge, I would recommened doing Telegraph from the Icehouse Canyon Trail. Like I mentioned before, I think it is best to these hikes in the late Spring through late Fall; when there is no snow or not much of it. The snow can get really slippery at times; especially the ice. Use your discretion if it is worth doing now or waiting until the snow clears up. As far as snacks, I have noticed from my Trek’s that bringing a power bar, beef jerky and sunflower seeds is a great way to keep energy. Telegraph Peak is also a great conditioning hike for Trek’s such as Mt. Whitney. The conditioning mostly helps with your endurance and strength, and with the elevation starting at nearly 5,000 feet from Icehouse Trailhead up to nearly 9,000 feet at the Telegraph Peak, this will be very helpful with the acclimation to get your body in condition to attempt hikes like Mt. Whitney; which stands at nearly 14,500 feet or so. The air is really thin up there.

View of the High Desert from Telegraph Peak.

Telegraph Peak Statistics:

  • Elevation Gain – 4500 Feet
  • Round Trip – 13 Miles
  • Suggested Time – 6 hours
  • Difficulty – Very Strenuous
  • Best Season – Late Spring to Late Fall

View on the ascension to Telegraph Peak.

Telegraph Peak is located in the Angeles National Forest near Mt. Baldy. To get to the Icehouse Canyon Trailhead, take the I-210 to the Mountain Ave/Mt. Baldy exit, drive 4.3 miles north on Mountain Ave (which becomes Shinn Road). Take a right on Mt. Baldy Road (the end of Shinn Road), and drive 6.4 miles and take a right into the Icehouse Canyon parking lot. On the way drop by the Mt. Baldy Visitor’s Center and pick up the free wilderness permit required for the Cucamonga Wilderness. A National Forest Service adventure pass ($5 per day or $30 per year) is required for parking at the Icehouse Canyon Trailhead.

If you plan to do this hike and have any additional questions, please feel free to leave a comment here and/or email me at 412cobrapower@gmail.com

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Echo Mountain and Mt. Lowe via Sam Merrill and Castle Canyon Trail

This was a very interesting hike due to the history of the “White City” on Echo Mountain. In the Late 1890’s through 1930’s, a resort known as the “White City” provided one of the top two Southern California attractions during that time; there was a trolley that would take guests all the way to the top of Echo Mountain to this amazing resort. Unfortunately, due to fires and flood, all that remains now are the ruins of this once great hotel. The hike to Echo Mountain is about 2.7 miles and a gain of about 1400 feet via the Sam Merrill trail which you can access from the old Cobb Estate. This is one of the most popular hikes in the area due to the history and therefore it can get very busy. I did this hike several months ago and though the weather was not great, the views to and from Echo Mountain; the old “White City” were amazing. Unfortunately, my plan was to go to the summit of Mt. Lowe and about 1/2 mile past Echo Mountain, the weather got a lot worse and a huge fog bank hit. Echo Mountain is a great area to take pictures as there are many ruins there, which include the hotel foundations, old trolley’s, trolley wheels, trolley tracks, picnic area where the tennis courts once stood, and, several plaques that explain the history of the “White City.” This is a great place to reminisce what was once there. Even if you decide to turn back from there, this will be a good workout with a 1400 foot gain and a 5.4 miles round trip. But, if you want to explore this area further and hike up to the summit Mt. Lowe, it will be well worth it.

One of the "White City" ruins at the top of Echo Mountain.

To head towards to the Summit of Mt. Lowe, look for the Castle Canyon Trail, which is about 1/4 mile from the “White City.” This trail will first take you 2 miles with a 1400 foot gain up to Inspiration Point. This first 1/2 mile or so of this trail is pretty moderate, but as you get towards the last mile or so, it becomes very steep and I believe most of the 1400 gain is in this section. I found this section of the trail one of the more challenging I have been on, and I have done some Monster Hikes that include Mt. Baldy from the village(about a 5700 foot gain), Cucamonga Peak, Finger Rock in Arizona, and the famous Mt. Whitney. On top of that, as the weather got worse, a massive fog bank engulfed the area, and, boy, it got really cold and tougher to breathe during this steep ascencion. As I got to Inspiration Point, there was still not much I could see because of the fog, but Inspiration Point is covered, and it has benches and picnic tables, it has some more plaques about the history, and it also has lots of spotters that point to different areas in Southern California. This is a great spot if the weather is clear. At this point, you will have gained about 2800 feet in elevation. So, I took a 5 minute break, and then began the final ascencion to the Summit of Mt. Lowe; which is about another 1.75 miles and about another 1100 feet in gain from Inspiration Point. As I was climbing the fog actually got worse and I could barely see ten feet in front of me and there was noboby hiking at this point except me until I reached the summit of Mt. Lowe. To my surprise, I saw a group of Korean folks that were just packing up from a picnic that they were having. At the summit, there are more plaques about the history and the railway, and, there are some benches and more spotters that point towards the Mt. Wilson area. There is also a register that you can sign, so, I did, and then I headed back down. Of course, on a clear day, the views from here must be astonishing.

"Inspiration Point" but it did not live up to the name with this huge fog bank.

Mt. Lowe Statistics

  • Elevation Gain – 3900 feet
  • Round Trip – 13 Miles
  • Suggested Time – 6 Hours
  • Difficulty – Strenuous
  • Best Season – Any Season

An old tree engulfed in the fog bank on the ascension to the Summit of Mt. Lowe.

Echo Mountain and Mt. Lowe is in the Angeles National Forest. From the East I-210 Foothill Freeway in Pasadena, exit at Lake Avenue and make a left (North) for about 3.4 miles to the end of Lake Avenue until it connects with Loma Alta Drive(which runs East to West). From there you can park along the street and the hike begins to the right of the stone gateway on the east side of the street. Look for the Sam Merrill Trail.

If you have any quesitons about this hike, please feel free to leave a comment here and/or email me at 412cobrapower@gmail.com