Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hiking Cucamonga Peak

Cucamonga Peak, at 8,856 feet, is a major peak in the San Gabriel Mountains and is a must do hike just outside of Los Angeles. Ashley and I really enjoyed this hike to the summit of Cucamonga Peak, because of the spectacular views from the top of the peak and the old historical cabins in ice house canyon. Additionally, while on the hike to Cucamonga Peak you have a great chance of seeing wildlife while on this hike, as we saw a herd of 10 Bighorn Sheep. For more pictures of our hike make sure to check out our Facebook Page.

Directions to Trailhead: To get to the trailhead to hike to Cucamonga Peak, from the 210 freeway, exit on N. Mountain Avenue and head toward the San Gabriel Mountains. You will take N. Mountain Avenue until it runs into Mt. Baldy Road. Mt. Baldy Road will take you to the Mt. Baldy Visitor Center, where you need to pick up your additional free wilderness permit, and it will take you to the trailhead at Icehouse Canyon, which is not too far from the Mt. Baldy Visitor Center. As always, since this hike is in the San Bernardino National Forest you will need a Forest Adventure Pass. You can also get one at the Mt. Baldy Visitor Center where you pick up your additional free wilderness permit.

Description of Hike: The hike to Cucamonga Peak is a strenuous hike with just over 3,900 feet of elevation gain from the start of the trailhead to the summit of Cucamonga Peak. The hike is roughly 12 miles roundtrip. The hike is located in the San Bernardino National Forest which means you will need to have a Forest Adventure Pass for parking at the trailhead. Additionally, since the majority of the hike is in the Cucamonga Wilderness you will need to pick up an additional free wilderness permit from the Mt. Baldy Visitor Center. You can also get a Forest Adventure Pass at the Mt. Baldy Visitor Center where you pick up your additional free wilderness permit. Note, if you are doing this hike in the summer make sure to check the weather to see if thunderstorms are forecasted for the mountains in Southern California. If they are, make sure to begin your hike to Cucamonga Peak early enough to be done before thunderstorms build in the afternoon.

The best seasons to do this hike are summer and fall, as during the winter months and for some of the spring Cucamonga Peak is covered in snow. Only experienced hikers should attempt the climb to the summit of Cucamonga Peak when there is snow present. The hike goes through some very scenic areas of the San Gabriel Mountains, located just outside of Los Angeles. The trail is well marked with signs to direct you on your journey to the summit of Cucamonga Peak. You start at the Icehouse Canyon Trail and are going to follow that trail for 3.6 miles until you reach the Icehouse Saddle. Once you reach the Icehouse Saddle you are going to follow the Cucamonga Peak Trail for 2.4 miles to the summit of Cucamonga Peak.

Further Thoughts: Ashley and I really enjoyed our hike to the summit of Cucamonga Peak. One of the exciting things for us was that we had the opportunity to see a herd of 10 bighorn sheep while hiking in Los Angeles County. You can find bighorn sheep in Southern California in portions of the San Gabriel Mountains, few hikes outside of Los Angeles offer this opportunity. Ashley and I were the only ones on the trail at that time we saw the herd of bighorn sheep and we took our time watching them. We had the opportunity to take a bunch of pictures and a video of the bighorn sheep we saw. For a link to our video and additional pictures of the bighorn sheep in the Cucamonga Wilderness, click Here.

The hike up the Icehouse Canyon Trail is beautiful. It follows next to a stream much of the way to the Icehouse Saddle. Expect to find water in this stream for much of the year. Along the trail, until you reach the wilderness boundry, there are residential cabins. There are also ruins of cabins that have either burnt down in fires or that have been washed away by the run-off in the canyon. The hike is a steady uphill the entire way to the Icehouse Saddle.

As you get closer to the Icehouse Saddle the views of the surrounding San Gabriel Mountains become amazing. The elevation of Icehouse Saddle is approximately 7,600 feet. You start to have views of the baldy complex at this elevation and once you reach the Icehouse Saddle you have views of the high deserts of Southern California. From the Icehouse Saddle to Cucamonga Peak, you actually have a little bit of down hill before you begin a set of switchbacks up to the summit of Cucamonga Peak.

Once you reach Cucamonga Peak, you are rewarded with amazing views of Southern California. On a clear day you can easily see for more than 50 miles in each direction. You will have views of the Santa Ana Mountains, of Mt. San Gorgonio, of Mt. San Jacinto, and some of the San Diego Mountains on a clear day. You will also have views of the high deserts of Southern California and the San Gabriel Mountains.

This is a great Southern California hike located just outside of Los Angeles. The hike to Cucamonga Peak offers great hiking in Los Angeles as the views at the top are world class and the peak is less crowded than its neighbor Mt. Baldy. Both Ashley and I would highly recommend this hike to others. You might also consider doing a training hike before this hike, if you are more susceptible to altitude or are not used to doing a 12 mile hike.

Rating: Elevation Gain: 3,939 ft. (Strenuous), Distance: 12 Miles Roundtrip (Strenuous).

Time to Complete Hike: 6.5 - 7.5 hours.


View Cucamonga Peak in a larger map

1 comment:

  1. What a great hike! We saw about a seven or so Big Horn Sheep in Glacier recently...it was quite a sight! Such beautiful animals!

    ReplyDelete

Ashley and I encourage and welcome our readers to submit comments about their experiences on the trails we have posted on our blog or about their own hiking experiences in general.