Blog Archives

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

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

Mount Wilson via Little Santa Anita Canyon

The trail towards Mt. Wilson via Little Santa Anita Canyon has a lot to offer. The trail starts at a 970 elevation and can take you all the way up to Mt. Wilson, which stands at about 5,650 feet. The trail is in good condition and has several stops before the summit of Mt. Wilson is reached(if you choose to go all the way). The trail begins via Mt. Wilson Trail Drive. The first mile and a half of the trail has a moderate climb(where you can see a waterfall at a distance) up to First Water; there you have the option to take the trail to the right and relax down by a creek, or you can continue to the left to the next destination, which is Orchard Camp. Keep in mind that at First Water, you will have gained about 980 feet in elevation. A lot of people hike up to here and then just turn back. If you wish to proceed to Orchard camp, you will gain about another 1020 feet for a total of about 1990 feet in elevation gain so far. Orchard Camp used to be a resort back in the late 1800’s or so to about 1940, and now all that remains are just concrete slabs, but, it is a great resting spot to enjoy drinks or snacks. If you wish to add another 1540 feet of elevation gain to your hike, you can continue another 1.9 miles up to Manzanita Ridge. At this point, you will have gained about 3500 feet in elevation. Manzanita Ridge offers great views towards the San Gabriel Valley and there is a little bench that you can take a nice, well-needed break. From here, you have the option to continue an additional 2.25 miles to the summit of Mt. Wilson. You will gain an additional 1180 feet of elevation for a total of about 4680 in elevation gain. If you do plan to go all the way to the top, or just up to Manzanita Ridge, you should be in great physical condition.

Dusk View Towards the San Gabriel Valley.

There is an option to cut the 2.25 additional hike up to Mt. Wilson. When you head towards Mt. Wilson from Manzanita Ridge, you have the option to stay right and take the regular trail, or stay left and take a trail that has a very steep climb and you can stay on this path until the regular trail crosses paths and that will cut about .5 miles out of the hike, but, it is a very steep climb, and by this point you may be too tired to go this way and you may just want to stick with the regular trail. You will get to a toll road that will take you right and then you come to another road where you will have to go right to the radio towers and at that point, you will reach the top. From Mt. Wilson, you can see all the way out to Catalina and beyond and overall; it has excellent views. This trail does expose you to the Sun, especially in the beginning up to First Water, but it does also offer lots of shade in certain parts of the hike. Whether you decide to go to all the way up to Mt. Wilson, or the previous spots, this will be an enjoyable hike, and even up to First Water, you will get a nice workout. I would say the toughest part of the entire hike up to Mt. Wilson is the section between Orchard Camp and Manzanita Ridge.

View of the San Gabriel Valley near the top of Mt. Wilson.

Mt. Wilson Trail Statistics:

  • Elevation Gain – 4680 Feet
  • Round Trip – 14 Miles
  • Suggested Time – 6-7 hours
  • Difficulty – Strenuous
  • Best Season – Late Fall to Late Spring

View Towards the San Gabriel Valley from the Trail.

To reach the Mount Wilson Trailhead via Little Santa Anita Canyon, on the 210 East Foothill Freeway in Arcadia, exit on Santa Anita Avenue and drive north. Turn left on Sierra Madre Blvd. and drive 0.9 miles to Mountain Trail Avenue. Turn right (north) and drive 0.5 mile to where Mountain Trail Ave ends but turns left as Mira Monte Ave. Turn left here. Immediately on your right is Mount Wilson Trail Drive. Park in this area on the street, either on the lower end of Mount Wilson Trail Drive or on Mira Monte. The hike begins by walking up Mount Wilson Trail Drive.

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

Cucamonga Peak

This is one of the best summit hikes in the San Gabriel Mountians. Cucamonga Peak towers at 8,859 feet and offers breathtaking views. The most popular access to this peak is Via the Icehouse Canyon Trail. This is one of the most challenging hikes in Southern California and should only be attempted by very intermediate to advanced hikers that are in great physical condition. 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 the Cucamonga Peak and continue an additional 2.4 miles to the summit. After the Icehouse Saddle, for about 0.9  miles, you will gradually ascend and then descend to the Cucamonga/Bighorn Saddle. Once you are there, you will begin the toughest part of the hike as you will begin numerous switchbacks that will take you to the peak. This final 1.5 miles is an elevation gain of about 1500 feet with the last .2 miles or so being very tough. This is a great conditioning hike to prepare for a summit like Mt. Whitney(due to the altitude, distance, elevation gain and steepness).

Danilo with the Inland Empire way down below from the Peak.

We did this hike on 12/10/2011, and there were a few patches of snow and ice towards the latter part of the Icehouse Canyon Trail, but, once we passed the Icehouse Saddle(especially the final 1.5 mile ascencion to the Cucamonga Peak), just about the entire trail was covered with snow and ice. Keep in mind that the ice is very slippery and could be dangerous. Based on that, the best season for this hike would probably be around Late May to early November. Of course, with any summit hike, pacing yourself is very important as well as bringing enough water, snacks, etc. Icehouse Canyon Trail is very popular and it is good to try and get there as early as possible to find a parking spot because the lot can fill up pretty fast. Icehouse Canyon Trailhead is at an elevation of approximately 4,920 feet. Also, the hike from Icehouse Canyon Trailhead to Icehouse Saddle alone is strenuous, so, to even complete that you should be in good physical condition. If you reach the Icehouse Saddle(which is at a 7500 elevation) and you are already tired, I would just call it a day because that will still be a hell of a workout and a 7.2 mile round trip once you get back to the Icehouse Canyon parking lot. So, to cap this off, from the Icehouse Canyon Trailhead to the Icehouse Saddle is 3.6 miles, from there it is an additional 2.4 miles to Cucamonga Peak, therefore you will complete a 12 mile round trip once you get back to the parking lot.

Gyorgyi and Danilo with a view of San Jacinto.

Cucamonga Peak Hiking Statistics:

  • Elevation Gain – 4200 feet
  • Round Trip – 12 miles
  • Suggested Time – 6-7  hours
  • Difficulty – Very Strenuous
  • Best Seasons – Late Spring to Late Fall

Gyorgyi with a view of the Riverside area towards Mt. San Jacinto.

Cucamonga 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