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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

Fish Canyon Falls Via Van Tassel Ridge

Fish Canyon Falls is one of the most intriguing waterfalls in Southern Cali. Unfortunately, the main trail is blocked by the Vulcan Materials Company. Though, there is a schedule for certain Saturday’s where a shuttle takes you through the Vulcan property to the start of the of the trail at a bridge(which is a pretty moderate hike to the Falls and back). Maybe about 3.5 miles round trip and a few hundred feet in elevation gain. Without this shuttle through the Vulcan property, there is another way to get to the falls, but it is a 9 mile round trip and about 3000 feet in elevation gain taking the Van Tassel Ridge. This is pretty strenuous and there is quite a bit of poison oak along the way. If you want to see a great waterfall that has several tiers, then, it will be worth it to take this alternate route there. Be sure to wear long sleeves and pants to avoid the overgrown parts of the trail, and if you go in the summer, make sure to bring plenty of water, wear sunblock and a hat.

One of the Lower Tiers of Fish Canyon Falls.

From the parking lot just before the quarry, the first part of the trail takes you up Van Tassel Ridge for about a 2 mile hike with about 1500 feet of elevation gain. As you are climbing this ridge, you will start to get great views. Once you get to the top of this ridge, you will then descend down the canyon about 1100 feet in just over a mile into the creek/stream. Keep in mind that you will have to ascend this back to the top when you come back form the waterfall so make sure that you are prepared for this type of hike because it is very steep. Once you get to the creek from this big descent, you will go left about about a mile and a half or so and gain a few hundred more feet of elevation to get to the waterfall. Once you are there, you will find it to be a great place to relax and enjoy the amazing Fish Canyon Falls. Just remember, if you check the Vulcan shuttle schedule, the hike to the falls will be easy compared to this insane alternate route. This is not the greatest trail in some spots(but passable), so, please hike this at your own risk.

First Couple Tiers of Fish Canyon Falls.

Fish Canyon Falls Hiking Statistics:

  • Elevation Gain – 3000 feet
  • Round Trip – 9 miles
  • Suggested Time – 6 Hours
  • Difficuty – Strenuous
  • Best Season – October – June

    View From Near the Top of Van Tassel Ridge.

Fish Canyon Falls is in the Angeles National Forest. From the I-210 Foothill Freeway East, (or the I-605 traveling north): Exit Mt. Olive Avenue in Duarte. Turn right on Huntington Drive and go about half a mile to Encanto Parkway. Turn left and just before you reach a quarry, turn left into a small parking lot. Parking is free.

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

Mt. Lukens via George Deukmejian Wilderness Park

This was a great hike and overall the trail is in pretty good shape. I took the “Rim of the Valley” trail connecting from the George Deukmejian Wilderness Park. This is probably not the greatest hike in the Summer because you are mostly exposed to the Sun, so, if you do it in the Summer, wear a hat, use Sunblock, and bring lots of water. This hike to Mt. Lukens is strenuous and should only be attempted by Intermediate to Advanced hikers that are in great physical condition. ‘The “Rim of the Valley” trail will eventually connect to the Haines Canyon Truck Trail that will take you all the way to the summit of Mt. Lukens. I did this hike on 12/17/2011 and I saw a lot of people enjoying the trails, but, I did not see many people as I began my ascension towards Mt. Lukens; maybe like 5 or 6 overall. The summit of Mt. Lukens had snow completely covering the trail over the last 1/4 mile or so and it was pretty cold up there, but, the views from the summit are panoramic in every direction. You can get a great view of Catalina Island and beyond.  Also, since there are radio towers, most likely, you will have cell reception. There are also several areas where you can rest and have snacks and/or drinks, and enjoy the magnificent views.

Old bridge that was destroyed in a landslide several years ago.

From the Parking lot at the park, you will take a little trail/road that starts by a stone building, and at about a 1/4 mile or so, you will pass an oak tree, and see couple signs. Take the left trail(Rim of the Valley), and, then a make a right when you come to a section where you can either go right or left. As you begin this first climb, just continue to stay right and eventually, in about 1/4 mile or so, the trail will take you to the right and down to a stream where you will pass an old concrete sort of bridge. The trail will then take you to the left, and, soon you will start climbing again where you will pass a collapsed bridge. After the bridge, just a bit further up, the trail will make a sharp right and then you will begin a step ascension of switchbacks towards Mt. Lukens. Continue on the switchbacks and eventually the trail will start heading Northeast. There will be couple of sections where you will do a short but very steep climb, and, on the second section, you will see a wooden post and connect to the Haines Canyon Truck Trail where you will make a right. This truck trail will lead you to the summit, although at this point you will have another 1500 feet or so to climb, this will be more of a gradual ascension. Keep in mind that before you reach the truck trail, the “Rim of the Valley” trail(after the switchbacks) has sections that break off into other trails, so, make sure you are aware of that because on the way back down at this area, I missed a turn and went straight, and when I realized I was going the wrong way, I had to climb back up to connect to the correct trail, and this added about another 200 feet of elevation, so, keep track of your surroundings.

View towards Catalina from near the Summit of Mt. Lukens.

Mt. Lukens Hiking Statistics:
  • Elevation Gain –  3000 feet
  • Round Trip – 9 Miles
  • Suggested Time – 4-5 hours
  • Difficulty – Strenuous
  • Best Season – Year Around(Just be cautious if there is snow)

Radio towers at the Summit of Mt. Lukens.

Mt. Lukens is in the Angeles National Forest. From I-210 east or westbound in La Crescenta take the Pennsylvania Avenue exit north to Foothill Boulevard. Turn left (west) on Foothill Boulevard to Dunsmore Avenue. Turn right (north) on Dunsmore Avenue towards George Deukmejian Wilderness Park (City of Glendale). Make a right at Markridge Road, and then make a left at the park sign entrance, proceed for about 1/2 a mile or so, and then park in the lot to your right. Unlimited parking. Just in case, if you have one, display an adventure pass, although I do not think it is needed there.

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