Trailhead: Palmer Evey Mtwy & Mt Baldy Rd, Claremont, CA
Length: 5 miles
Elevation Gain: 12oo ft.
Difficulty: The fire road is a good beginner hike; East Face is for advanced peeps
Total time: 1.5 hrs
Parking: There is tons of parking, no pass required, HOWEVER, cars get broken into A LOT. Mine got broken into and they stole my purse, but I had my wallet with me, so take that SUCKER. Cars that park in the dirt lot across the street tend to get broken into more than those at the trail head, so I recommend parking as close as possible to the trail
Potato Mountain is one of my favorite places for noob hikers, as you can change up the route depending on your skill level. So, basically, once you’re all like “Pfft, this fire road is for chumps” you can take East Face and feel like you’re a baby fawn learning to walk for the first time.
So, let’s get started:
Route 1: The Fire Road
Definitely a heart pumper if you’re new to hiking, but not so bad. Follow the fire road until you get to the intersection about 1.5 miles up. Turn left at the intersection to head to Potato Mountain, unless you plan on going to the Claremont Loop parking lot, where your car isn’t.
Continue following the fire road until you make it to the water tower. You’ve made it! Do a little dance. Make a little love. Get down tonight! (J/K, please don’t do that there. Nobody wants to see any of it, including the dancing).
Route 2: The Fire Road to “West Face”
Go up the fire road. After you turn left at the fork, you’ll go downhill for a bit. At the bottom of the hill, you’ll see a path off to your right. That is what we call “West Face” even though it’s not EXACTLY facing the west. I didn’t name it, don’t blame me.
This section is much steeper but gives you more of a challenge and is a tiny taste of what East Face will be. Speaking of which…
Route 3: “East Face,” down the fire road, complete at “West Face”
Follow the fire road down until you reach the first hill. There will be a trail off to the left after the first hill. It’s a bit hidden so you have to look for it.
This trail is hard. Like, way hard. There’s a flat bit towards the beginning, but I can say there are times when I’ve been crawling to get up the mountain. Be prepared for many a-false peak.
Once you get to the top of East Face, you can be a wimp and turn left to get to the top of the mountain, OR you can be all womanly and strong by turning right and trotting down the fire road to get to West Face. West Face will be a bit of the way down on your left hand side, right before you get to the part where you start going up hill to get to the Claremont loop intersection.
Regardless of which route you take, be sure to head toward the water tower to take in the view. And it’s not like a water tower, water tower. It’s like an underground water tower with a bit of the top hanging above ground. Makes for a mighty fine seat, even if it does say “Potatoe Mountain” on it. Must have been painted by Dan Quayle (people born before 1982 will get this joke).
For some weird reason, it’s become a tradition to leave a potato dressed as something on the water tower after your first hike. Don’t ask me why; I don’t make the rules. Anyway, if you do choose to take a potato up, please take your photo and bring the potato back down with you. “Leave no trace” includes “biodegradable” items.
And yes, leaving orange peels and apple cores on the trail is bad, please stop doing it, the animals do not eat orange peels nor should they. Please know that if I see you leave something there because it’s “biodegradable,” I will stare at you disapprovingly while I pick up your trash, never breaking eye contact so you know you are being judged.
Lazy Ass Hiking hosts a Meetup hike at Potato Mountain every Wednesday at 5:45 p.m., and yes, they will make you take dumb photos, so suck it up. As an added bonus, though, they go to Grazie’s afterward for some awesome Italian food so you can eat all the calories you’ve just burned.