Sandstone Peak

Trailhead12896 Yerba Buena Road, Malibu, CA 90265
Length: 6.25
Elevation Gain: 1075 ft.
Difficulty: Beginner/moderate
Total time: 3.5 hours
Dogs: Yes
Parking: Parking at trail head (free)

Sandstone Peak is the tallest point in the Santa Monica Mountains, which is super adorable because it’s only 3,111 feet tall. Look at you go, little guy!

The trail is a loop with a fairly gradual incline, although there are a few ups and downs… just like life, amirite?

To take the longer route, go to the right when the trail splits off, unlike what we did, which was go left and then have to turn around. This seems to happen a lot when I happen to hike with this particular guide. Not sure why I keep letting him lead me into the wilderness.

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Most of the trail is completely exposed, so going early morning or late afternoon to catch the sunset is advised. While trekking along, you will likely see rock climbers on Echo Cliffs, which is a name that sounds like something that you’d see in The Princess Bride.  “As you wiiiiiiiissshhhhh!”

There is one spot about 2 miles in that offers some shade, but that’s about the only part on the trail that doesn’t leave you exposed.

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After this section, you’ll continue skirting around the mountain. Head down the backbone trail to continue to Sandstone. To get to the actual peak itself, you’ll be required to participate in a smidgen of rock scrambling, and climb some stairs, so get a few Buns of Steel workouts in before you go (J/K its not that bad and also does Buns of Steel even exist anymore?).

Sunset at the peak is quite a sight, especially when it’s windy and cold and you have to shield yourself behind a rock because you didn’t bring a jacket. Good times.

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Once you’re done and complete the loop, go back down the stairs and make a right when you reach the trail. I was told by my guide that you can also see glow worms on the trail at night, but I didn’t see any on our trek. Then again, he is also the one who says “I think we go this way” and is wrong soooo…

Enjoy!

 

Sunset Peak

TrailheadGlendora Ridge Road
Length: 6 miles
Elevation Gain: 1400 ft.
Difficulty: Advanced Moderate (completely exposed)
Total time: 3.5 hours
Dogs: Wouldn’t recommend on this trail.
Parking: Parking at trail head (free)

Full disclosure on this write up. I’ve been to Sunset Peak twice. The first time there was a sunset to behold. The write up I’m doing now is based on the second trip, which involved a ton of cloud cover and no sunset.

I mean, the sun set and everything. It’s not like it was permanently stuck in the sky. I just mean we couldn’t see it because of clouds.

“More like NO sunset peak,” I grumbled (har har).

Onward!

There are two ways to get up to Sunset Peak, one up the booorrrrring fire road, or the way we went, which was up the ridge. The fireroad is easy to spot because it’s a fire road. It’s right in front of you, looking all fire-road-y.  The ridge route is a small path to the left if you’re facing the peak from the parking lot.

At the start of the trip, the organizer for the group was like, “Oh, this isn’t a hard route, it’s like the second short cut at Potato Mountain, not like east face.”

Very shortly I learned that he’s a liar liar pants on fire.

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Most parts of this hike on the ridge are very East Face-onian. Lots of  ascending. Then some descending to ascend again.  Climbing. A bit of bouldering. Do-able, but a heart pumper.

After the first long stretch on the ridge, you will be dumped off at the fire road. Look for the trail off to the left, just a small ways up.

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This second trail is much shorter than the first and will take you to the peak. This is the final stretch that will lead you to the peak. You’ll know you’re there because you’ll see a weird tin roof (rusty!) on the ground.

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As you can see, not a lot of Sunset here.

We made up for the lack of sunsets with a solid potluck. I brought the important item, a.k.a. Circus Animal Cookies because NOM NOM NOM.

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I’d recommend Sunset Peak for moderate/advanced hikers who are interested in a challenge. If you’re a beginner and the ridge way seems too tough, you can always take the fire road.

As of May 2017, Lazy Ass Hiking is planning this trek with the potluck at the top on a monthly basis. Check out the calendar on their Meetup page.

 

Potato Mountain

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
Dogs: Yup
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

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Here’s your sign.

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

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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”

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When you get up West Face before everyone else and rub it in your fellow hikers’ faces.

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”

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And the hard part begins…

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).

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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.

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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.

Bear Canyon to Baldy (Return Via Devil’s Backbone)

Trailhead: 6778 Mt Baldy Rd, Mt Baldy, CA, 91759, USA
Length: 6 miles to the peak, another 3ish to the notch and then take the ski lift down because if you have to walk another step you might die.
Elevation Gain: 5740 ft. You will climb all of this in 6  miles. It will make you tired and sad.
Difficulty: So hard you will cry like a baby.
Total time: 8 hours
Dogs: Don’t do this to your poor dog. I don’t care if he IS a “really good climber.”
Parking: Adventure pass required, as is a shuttle. Have someone park at Manker Flats, and another drive you to the ranger station where you will start the trek.

To get to the trail head, walk up Bear Canyon road (across the street from Mt. Baldy Lodge) until you get to the trail head. Getting there is a little tricky, so I recommend you check out Hikingguy.com‘s turn by turn directions.  Actually, you should just check out his site for any hiking instructions. I don’t know why you’re even here.

Anyway, I’ve done this trail twice because apparently I didn’t learn the first time. Both times we started this trek at about 6:30 a.m. in the semi-dark.

The beginning part of the trail does not go gentle on you and you climb pretty fast, pretty quick. There are some short breaks with flat terrain, but just remember you’re climbing an average of about 1k feet/mile and it’s going to be like that for a long, long time.

We made it to Bear Flats just in time to see the sun rising over the mountains by the time we were half way up the unrelenting switchbacks. Take your time on this section. You’ve got a lot of mountain to climb.

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After you finish the switchbacks, the next big landmark is a place called “Split Rock” which is a rock… that is split in two. It’s a good place for a quick break before you head up the next grueling passage.

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This part is the hardest climb of the trail because your legs are tired and it’s super steep.

After 17.5 years of climbing, you’ll reach the traverse. Take heart because it’s kinda, almost, not really at all close to being over. You’ll have something like two more miles to go, but the elevation gain is more mellow.

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For us, the traverse where it started getting windy and cold. Like SUPER windy and cold. What made it even better was the fact that I’m a head sweater and my hair was sopping wet (I mean, I can wring it out kind of wet) which felt way awesome with the cold wind blowing on it.

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After the traverse you’ll head up into the trees. The trees protected us a bit from the wind, but had the added bonus of snow. At this point to distract myself from the slog, I started making up new lyrics to the Fugee’s version of Killing Me Softly. It goes like this:

I got up at 4:30
Put on my boots to hike

I hopped into my Hyundai
And drove it for awhilllle.

And there it was, this mountain
About to claim my sooooul.

Cold, numbing pain in my fingers
Wind blasted face, legs that hurt.

Killing me slowly with this hike,
Killing me slowly…with this hike.

Taking my whole life… with each step.
Killing me slowly… With this hiiiiiiiiike

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The composition of this soon-to-be-chart-topper kept me busy enough to get to the top where winds were blowing about 45 miles per hour. My fingers were so cold that it took a while to take a picture, as my phone didn’t recognize them as belonging to a human anymore. It also came out blurry, so it was well worth the effort.

Someone else had a camera and decided to take, perhaps, the most unflattering photo of me in the history of my existence. Here I am, in the middle looking like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Woman under my three layers of clothing.

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I also had to borrow a face scarf from my friend Mike which I returned to him filled with snot and spit. Thanks, buddy!

At this point, there is a choice. You can either go back down the way you came which probably sucks just a little less than it did going up, or you can take the 3.5 mile down the Devil’s backbone down to the Notch and take the fire road or the ski lift down to Manker Flats.

Remember how I said to arrange a shuttle? That’s why. I hope you listened when I said that, because otherwise you’re going back down Bear Canyon to the ranger station.

I stayed up at the top for about 95 seconds and made my way down to the Notch Restaurant, just in time to see the storm rolling in.

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After eating the vegetarian lunch I brought because last time when I ordered a “Black Bean Burger” from the restaurant I got an actual meat burger with black beans on it (WHO WOULD WANT TO EAT THAT?), I paid the $12 to take the ski lift down, which was totally worth it, even if it was hailing on the way down and I kept getting pelted in the face with tiny, high speed ice balls.

And there you have it. This is arguably the hardest trail up to Baldy. I say “arguably” because there’s also Register Ridge and that one is also horrible.

This is actually a great training hike if you plan to do Cactus to Clouds, which makes this one look like a hike for toddlers. This won’t be the last time I do Bear Canyon, as I do need to train for the next and last time I ever to C2C (I made a promise to a friend), but I think it’ll be awhile before I climb it again.

Register Ridge

All pictures by Tony Tellez

 

Trailhead: Manker Campground, Mt Baldy, CA, 91759, USA
Length:
 9 miles, depending on your route
Elevation Gain: 4500 ft.
Difficulty: Very strenuous
Total time: 6-7 hours
Dogs: Not a good idea
Parking: Parking is $5 at the ski lifts. If you out to park at Manker Flats, you’ll need an Adventure Pass which you can find at any sporting goods store or ranger station.

Spend any amount of time with @lazyasshiking and one of the first questions you’ll be asked is “So, have you done Register Ridge yet? When are you doing Register Ridge?”

Register Ridge is a death march up Mt. Baldy where you climb 2750 feet in less than two miles. It is grueling, and it sucks and I don’t know why these people like it so much. Tony, the organizer, posts it every six weeks or so on Lazy Ass Hiking.

After a year of peer pressure and canceling three times, I finally climbed it, and now I never have to do it again, ever.

In order to do Register Ridge you need to be in outstanding physical shape. Or at least the physical shape I’m in, which is that I hike three to four times a week. And like, legitimate hikes, guys. Not strolls up Mt. Rubidoux (sorry, Roobs, you’re just not that difficult). I’m talking like, real womanly hikes that make you pump your fist in the air kind and shout “Suck it, mountain.”

And at least one hike a week up peaks at elevation. I spent the last 5 weeks doing peak climbing before I felt good at attempting this.  Actually, “good” is too strong of a word. I just felt like I was less likely to die.

So what I’m saying is, if you’re not doing those kind of hikes, don’t do Register Ridge, mkay?

The hike goes like this:

You start up the fire road by the port-o-potties, say hey to the cute little waterfall, and then connect to the Ski Hut Trail which is further up, on the left hand side. You’ll recognize it by the fact that the sign for the trail is broken in half. Way to go, jerk that broke it.Go up Ski Hut, and not far up, you will see a metal register box on your right. About 25 yards up from that, you’ll see a water run off on the right. Except that’s not a water run off, that’s the Register Ridge Trail. And that’s where the pain begins.

You will spend the next 2 to 2.5 hours Spider Man-ing your way up this trail. It is like scaling a building and it never levels off. I must say, that while it is extremely steep, I never felt worried I would roll off a cliff, just that I might collapse and die.

When you are about .25 miles from the top of the trail, you will begin to see the best sight EVER: heads bobbing along the Devil’s Backbone and you know you have arrived.

From here, you can either connect to the backbone to make your way up to Baldy, OR head up Harwood trail off to the right for extra credit, which I agreed to for some dumb reason.

After sumitting Harwood, we made our own trail back down to the backbone and summitted Baldy which was just the icing on this terrible cake. The some of the group then went to West Baldy- I opted to roll my eyes at them and plop down at the wind shelter.

While technically you can go back the way you came, that would be dumb. I suggest heading your way back down the Devil’s Backbone and stopping off at the Notch. You can then either take the ski lift down from the lodge or walk the 3 miles back down to Manker Flats, like I did, again, due to peer pressure.

 

 

Some other notes:

Weather:
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this, but this is an extremely strenuous hike. Don’t do it when it’s hot. The group has done it in the snow, as well, but if you do, be careful on the backbone on the way back

Wildlife
Because this is less trafficked than other trails, I am told that this is the best trail if you want to see big horn sheep, which I still haven’t seen, so thanks for nothing, Register Ridge.

I’d suggest parking in the lot at the ski lifts and walking down to the trailhead because you’ll be tired by the end. I didn’t do that and made my friend drive me two tenths of a mile to my car because I was over it #lazyasshiker.