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Bighorn Peak via Icehouse Canyon

Bighorn Peak is a very adventurous hike that is located between Ontario and Cucamonga Peaks. Bighorn Peak stands at 8441 feet above sea level and offers great views of the Inland Empire, towards Santiago Peak, and the High Desert, although, not as great views as Telegraph and Cucamonga Peaks offer. The most common way to get to Bighorn is to take the Icehouse Canyon Trail, and, once you get to the Icehouse Saddle, you will head South following the sign that says Ontario Peak and Kelly’s Camp. After about 1.5 miles, you will reach a ridge. There is a sign on a set of rocks that points to Ontario Peak to the right at 1 mile, but, it is actually about 1.4, and points to Bighorn Peak to the left at 3/4 of a mile, but, that is actually about 1 mile. The last part of the climb to Bighorn Peak is pretty steep and is a bit of a scramble, but, overall, there should not be any problems in reaching the top. There is a register that you can sign once you get there. Bighorn Peak offers a great trek, but, a lot of hikers prefer the neighbors such as Ontario, Cucamonga, and Telegraph Peaks. Reaching Bighorn isn’t as tough as the previously mentioned, but, it is still a pretty strenuous 3500 foot climb with about a 12 mile round trip. I was very intrigued with the scenery of this Trek, especially after the Icehouse Saddle, and I found myself taking many, many pictures.

Danilo holding the register at the summit of Bighorn Peak.

Once you reach the saddle at Icehouse after the 2600 foot gain in 3.6 miles, the elevation levels out for a mile or so as you reach Kelly’s Camp(which used to be a mountain resort), but, after Kelly’s Camp, the trail begins the ascension towards the ridge. The elevation gain to Bignorn Peak is about about 900 feet after the saddle in about 2.4 miles, so, it is a moderate climb at that point as most of the elevation you will have gained will be from the Icehouse Canyon Trailhead to the Icehouse Saddle. Once you reach that ridge between Ontario and Bighorn, you will get excellent views towards Santiago Peak and everything in between. It is a magnificent walk on that ridge whether you head to Ontario or Bighorn. I was also fortunate enough to run into a set of about eight Bighorn Sheep twice; just past Kelly’s Camp on the way up, and once again past Kelly’s Camp on the way down. The only negative thing about this hike was that as soon as I got out of my car at the Trailhead, I busted my ankle and it was a pretty bad one(very swollen). I managed to walk it off a bit and was able to complete the entire hike, which was a very foolish things to do, but, my motto is: as long as I can walk, I am game. Overall, this was an awesome Trek and I would highly recommend it. As usual, you should be in great physical condition, and be a little cautious on the final mile or so towards Bighorn Peak as the trail can get a bit loose at times.

View of the Inland Empire from the ridge between Ontario and Bighorn Peaks.

Bighorn Peak Trail Statistics:

  • Elevation Gain – 3500 feet
  • Round Trip – 12 miles
  • Suggested Time – 6-7 hours
  • Difficulty – Strenuous
  • Best Season – Spring to Fall

View towards the High Desert from Bighorn Peak.

Bighorn 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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La Tuna Foot Trail

This hike begins just off La Tuna Canyon and is very enjoyable. There are a couple of different trails that you can access from this area, but, this one in particular is called the La Tuna Foot Trail(specifically for hiking and not biking). To access this specific trail, you will exit on La Tuna Canyon on the 210 West and make a left, you will see a pullout to park right away under the overpass, but, this is not the trailhead for this hike, keep driving West and in about a mile, you will see a small dirt pullout on your left(keep in mind that if you drive an additional .4 miles, you will see another dirt pullout on the left with a trailhead, but that will not be the La Tuna Foot Trail, so make sure you park in the first dirt pullout you see which will be about a mile from the 21o, like I said. Park here and take the dirt pathway down into a stream and you will see the trail begin towards the left. This is a good moderate hike because you will reach the top of the Verdugo Mountains in about 2 miles and you will gain about 1500 feet in elevation. The trail starts of very steep and is consistently ascending with some sections being very, very steep. This a great trail because even though you will be off La Tuna Canyon, as you ascend the trail becomes very isolated and makes you feel like you are in the middle of nowhere. You will start to get some nice views of the Verdugo Mountains, along with a nice aeriel view of the 210 on the left, as well as Mt. Lukens as you ascend. Some sections are very rocky so just be aware and proceed with caution. The first part of the trail is a little overgrown, but you should have no problem at all. As you start to climb, the trail becomes a little more more rocky but it is well maintained for the majority.

Nice view of the sky and towards Mt. Lukens.

I will call this a moderate hike, but, if this trek added another mile or so with a gain of about another 1000 feet in elevation, I would then call this a strenuous hike. The intensity is very similar to the Icehouse Canyon Trail up to the Icehouse Canyon Saddle in the Cucamonga Wilderness(which is 3.6 miles to the saddle and a 2600 foot elevation gain). Keep in mind that the La Tuna Canyon Foot Trail has several sections that ascend and descend that are steep. The final ascent to the top of the Verdugo Mountain is very steep. Please use caution as you are ascending, and, then as you head back down. When you reach the top of the Verdugo Mountain(which stands at about 2800 feet in elevation), you will see a big oak tree with a couple benches right underneath. This will be a great place to relax in the shade and enjoy a snack after a real good workout. You will also have a nice view towards the East of Mt. Lukens(which stands at just over 5000 feet in elevation and is the highest point of any mountain in the LA basin), and you will have some nice views of the San Fernando Valley towards the West. When you decide to leave, head back down the same way you came and remember to use caution on some of the sections that are very steep that go up and go down.

Top of the Verdgo Mountain where couple benches lie under the tree.

La Tuna Foot Trail Statistics:

  • Elevation Gain – 1500 feet
  • Round Trip – 4.4 miles
  • Suggested Time – 2-3 hours
  • Difficulty – Moderate
  • Best Season – Any Season

Nice view of the woods off the trail.

The La Tuna Foot Trail is in the Verdugo Mountains. From the 210 West, exit La Tuna Canyon and make a left(West). You will head West for about a mile and you will see a small dirt pullout on the left. Park here. You will not need an Adventure Pass because this is not in National Forest ground.

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

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

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

Methuselah Trail

The Methuselah Trail is located high in the White Mountains across from the Sierra Nevada’s at an elevation of just over 10,000 feet. The gain/loss in this trail is about 800 feet, so, you will be hiking at nearly 11,000 feet above sea level during some point of this trek. This trail is part of the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest(the oldest living pine forest which is home to the oldest living tree named Methuselah; which is over 4,600 years old and is still producing new offspring). The loop is about 4.5 miles or so, but, this is the most amazing hike I have ever done and you do get a mystical feeling as you are hiking through this forest. The trail is in excellent shape and it has 24 posts; with each post describing a certain section of the hike. You can pick up a guide brochure at the Trailhead sign.

Ancient Bristlecone Pine Tree.

The Trailhead is right next to the Schulman Grove Station; which is closed right now due to a fire, but, we happened to run into a Ranger who had opened it when we had just  finished the hike. The Ranger was a very nice older gentlemen, and he gave us a brief background about the Forest. This is something that you need to see in your lifetime; it is a moderate hike and the elevation is around 10,000 and 11,000 feet, so, the air will be very thin(hiking around this area is good conditioning to acclimatize for a hike like Mt. Whitney; of course, the difficulty level here is NOTHING compared to Mt. Whitney(22 mile round trip and 6100 feet of elevation gain to a summit at just under 14,500 feet). Advise: take your time in the Methuselah Trail and take as many pictures as possible. This was a breathtaking experience and I am looking forward to coming back here again.

Gyorgyi and this amazing Bristlecone Pine Tree.

Methuselah Trail Statistics:

  • Elevation Gain – 800 feet
  • Round Trip – 4.5 miles
  • Suggested Time – 3 – 4 hours
  • Difficulty – Moderate
  • Best Season – All Season(just be cautious if there is snow).

Dawn View Towards the Sierra Nevada's.

The Methuselah Trail is in the Inyo National Forest. From the US 395 North, Turn right on State Highway 168, one half mile North of the town of Big Pine, CA, which is about  15 miles South of Bishop, CA. Drive East on 168 about 12 miles until you reach the top of Westgard Pass. Turn left on the White Mountain Road, which will take you to the Bristlecone Pine Forest. Follow this paved road 10 miles until you find the turn off and parking lot to the Schulman Grove Visitor Center. You can park here.

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