San Bernardino Peak

 

Photo credit @michaelpowellphotography and @broloelcordero

Trailhead: 5766 Frontage Rd, Angelus Oaks, CA, 92305 
Length: 
17 (ish) miles
Elevation Gain: 4650 ft.
Total Elevation: 10649
Difficulty: Strenuous
Total time: 9-10 hours
Dogs: Yes
Parking: There is parking in a dirt lot after a long, bumpy ride down a dirt road. You can definitely make it in a regular car, but it’s not a great idea. Also, I’ve heard conflicting reports on needing an adventure pass, so just put one up. Hiking Guy has excellent instructions on how to get there.

HIKING PERMIT REQUIRED.
You can request it online to be mailed to you, stop in and get it on your way there, or, if  you’re stuck in 1996, fax your request to the station and they’ll fax a permit back. Here’s the link to the Mill Creek Ranger Station.

San Bernardino is probably my favorite of the #SocalSixPack. The trail is the most gentle of all the peaks with a very steady incline throughout and with a rather flat part in the middle when you go through the forest of Manzanita trees. The only part that was particularly steep was the very last .2 miles to the peak which is super of you, San Bernardino Peak. Go ahead and put the hardest part at the very end when I’m tired. ‘Preciate it, sir.

Some other things of note:

Ho Hum Peak
The peak’s view is rather lackluster. You’ll find the best view is on the way up at Limber Pine Bench which gives one of the most spectacular views of the Inland Empire you’ll ever see. I’ve also heard that camping at Limber Pine is an amazing experience. Many call it the best campsite in Southern California. I don’t call it that, though, because I hate camping.

Covered in Bees!
When we went in August there were a lot of bees. I mean A LOT OF BEES. Everywhere. All buzzing around, like they own the place. I hate bees. I mean, I get we need them and all but they FREAK ME OUT.

Washington Monument
Less than a mile from the peak you’ll see Washington Monument. Or, if you’re smarter than me, you’ll see it. I’ve gone twice and just passed the plaque, not realizing that there’s an actual structure off the main trail. I am not observant.

The Descent
The last two miles of the trail is a soul sucking, switch back after switch back journey with zero scenery change. I felt like I was in the movie Groundhog Day except without Bill Murray to make me laugh.

Seasons
Best time to go is June – October. Otherwise you’re going to hit snow. And not like “Hey, look at that pretty snow over there” kind of snow, but “I’m so cold that I can’t feel my feelings any more” kind of snow.

 

Cucamonga Peak

Trailhead: Ice House Canyon Rd, Mt Baldy, CA 91759
Length:
12 miles
Elevation Gain: 4300 ft.
Total Elevation: 8859
Difficulty: Strenuous
Total time: 7-8 hours
Dogs: Yes
Parking: Adventure pass needed. You can buy them at any sporting goods store. I also recommend getting there no later than 6:00 a.m. for guaranteed parking, as Ice House Canyon is extremely popular.

Cucamonga Peak is located in San Bernardino County and is the second in the So Cal Hiker‘s #SixPackofPeaks series.

Look, I’m going to level with you on this because we’re friends, and friends are honest with one another.

I hate this trail. In fact, I often refer to it as “Satan’s Trail” and here’s why:

The beginning part of the trail is quite beautiful, with a fairly gentle climb. This is all a trick. It’s the trail’s way of making you feel safe. But you are not safe.

After you get past the first part, you cross a dry riverbed, full of river rocks. Not fun, but not terrible, either (until you hit this on the way back).

After that, is a never ending set of switchbacks.

Then, you hit the Ice House Saddle for a bit of a break.

Then you descend 400 feet and the trail becomes completely exposed and sketchy.

Two problems with this–it’s hot, and if it’s windy, it’s terrifying. There are parts of the trail that is literally just rock piled on top of other rock.

If it’s during the winter and it’s icy, it’s extremely dangerous and can be deadly. And with no shade, you’re in danger of heat exhaustion in the summer.

And there are more switchbacks. So many more switchbacks.

Eventually, you get to the turn off for the last slog up a hill to get to the peak. Except it’s really easy to miss the turn off.

Why?

Because some jerk stole the sign for the turn off so it’s literally just a brown post with an arrow on it. This isn’t a well marked turn off. This is a cartoon scheme that the Coyote would play on the Road Runner to get him to fall off a cliff.

The view from the peak, is admittedly beautiful and might make you a little less bitter about the trip to get there.

But then, you have to descend.

Remember that 400 feet you descended on the way down? Guess what you get to climb!

Remember that riverbed filled with white rocks that you crossed? Guess what is reflecting the heat of 1,000 hells back into your face?

If you can get past the riverbed without breaking an ankle due to tired legs and lack of coordination, you’ll make it to the wooded, shaded part of the trail, the part that was so beautiful when you started. You’ll think “ah, almost there.”

Except you’re not. This part will feel never ending. Each cabin you pass on the way out will be a bitter reminder of the civilization you left–for some reason–and that you may never return to.

And then, you come around the corner and you see cars! Glorious cars! It’s the parking lot!

Except, as it turns out, it is not the parking lot. It’s the pre-parking lot parking lot, where some people get to park for some reason. But not you. You didn’t get to park there. Your car is further down. And you still have to walk to get there.

Cucamonga Peak is not for the faint of heart. Even though it’s only number two on the Six Pack of Peaks, it is not the easiest by far. If you go, be sure to bring lots of water, a ton of sunblock, and a truck load of patience.

Especially that last one. Trust me, you’ll need it.