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6 Pack of Peaks Challenge 2016: Cucamonga Peak

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Distance: 11.8 Miles (Out and Back)
Difficulty: Hard
Elevation: 8,858 Feet
Elevation Gain: 4,300 Feet
Permit: Adventure Parking Pass
Location: Baldy, CA

Every night that we drive to work, I look up and see this giant of a mountain looking down at me. It always made me wonder what it would be like to be at the top of that giant. Well, now I can say I know! We hiked Peak #2 on the 6 Pack of Peaks Challenge and conquered it!  Cucamonga Peak is no joke, and very difficult but once you make it to the top its all worth it.

Cucamonga Peak is one of the highest peaks of the San Gabriel Mountains. It is located within Cucamonga Wilderness of the San Bernardino National Forest. The trail begins at Icehouse Canyon Trail Head which is located in the town of Baldy CA. Icehouse Canyon is an extremely popular trail and can get very crowded on weekends making parking obsolete and the trail jam packed. We strongly suggest doing this hike during the week and starting early. Our day started at 8:30am but most people will start this trail at 7am. Be prepared to spend at least 7hours getting to the summit and back.

Icehouse Canyon trail is a gorgeous hike filled with many trees and wildlife. We saw a few deer hanging out at one of the cabins along the trail. There are a couple spots where you will have to cross over (or jump over) small streams of water coming out of the mountain. There is a large stream that you follow along the trail for about 1 1/2 mile. Plenty of people use this stream to cool off on hot summer days. You will hike this trail for 3.5 Miles to the Icehouse Saddle. Here is a great spot to take a quick break and relax before you start the last part to Cucamonga Peak. Be aware that there are 5 different trails that come together at the Saddle, so make sure you follow the right one to continue on towards Cucamonga Peak.

From the saddle, Cucamonga Peak is 2.4 miles of steep and semi exposed trail. This was probably our favorite part of the hike despite how difficult it was. You will head down for a bit but don't worry, you're still on the right trail. The north-facing slop usually holds a good amount of snow late into the season. We had seen a few people post that there were still plenty of ice a few weeks ago but the trail was completely clear for us. We saw maybe one or two patches of snow that were off the trail. The terrain is very rocky and unstable at certain parts so come prepared with proper shoes. There use to be a sign towards the end of the trail for Cucamonga Peak but it has disappeared. At this point it does get a bit confusing. There is a small rock "barrier" to stop hikers from continuing on the well maintained trail towards Etiwanda Peak and a wooden post with a white arrow pointing up. Once you reach this turn right and head up, you're almost to the peak!

The views are amazing on a clear day. The peak overlooks Southern California's Inland Empire. When we made it to the top all we could see where beautiful fluffy clouds. In all honestly, we would much rather see these clouds then the city below. It made us feel like we were completely in the wilderness, far away from all civilization. It was perfect! After taking it all in we grabbed our beers, cheered to conquering peak #2, and relaxed while we ate our lunch. This hike was definitely a difficult hike but beautiful and worth it. The next peak will be San Antonio Peak (Mt Baldy) which we have done before in the past but are excited to complete it again! To check out photos of this hike check out our Cucamonga Peak album on our Facebook page :)










Did you like this post? Do you have more suggestions regarding this hike or other hikes in the area? Leave a comment below and let us know :) 


6 Pack of Peaks Challenge 2016: Mt Wilson

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Distance: 13.6 Miles (Out & Back)
Difficulty: Strenuous
Elevation: 5,710 Feet
Elevation Gain: 4,517 Feet
Location: Sierra Madre, CA

In preparation for our JMT Adventure we decided to finally complete the 6 Pack of Peaks Challenge that is put on by SoCalHiker.com. We wanted to do this last year but never got around to actually signing up and making the effort to finish it. Well, this year we have no excuses. We have to train and the best way to train is to hike the highest peaks here in Southern California. The peaks that are on this list are Mt Wilson, Cucamonga Peak, Mt Baldy (San Antonio), San Bernardino Peak, Mt San Jacinto, and finally San Gorgonio (which is the highest peak in Southern California). Every time you summit a peak you share a beer with your fellow hikers and enjoy the view. Its perfect and we couldn't wait to start! First up, Mt Wilson!


The First Stretch
There are two ways to do this hike; Starting at Mt Wilson Park or Chantry Flats. Chantry Flats is the easier of the two but the longer way to the summit, while the Wilson Park is a shorter hike by a mile but a bit more strenuous with more elevation gain. Needless to say, we decided to do the harder way. Even though we didn't start at Chantry Flats we did do some research on it and found that the parking is a bit more difficult. You will need an adventure pass and it fills up pretty fast, especially on weekends. For Mt Wilson Park the Adventure pass is not needed and there is plenty of parking along the street. We did this hike on a Sunday and had no trouble finding a place to park.

The Creek Crossing
The hike starts off steep which sets the tone for the rest of the hike. It is a constant climb up with only a few flat sections that give some relief. The first 2.3 miles are very exposed which is one of the reasons we suggest starting this hike early in the day to avoid the heat. But once you hit the covered tree area it transforms into a whole other world! Green! Lots and lots of green everywhere! Its gorgeous and an amazing relief from the blistering heat put off by the sun. My sister-in-law had said it reminded her of the hikes back east. There is nothing more enjoyable and peaceful then being covered by overgrown trees with the sound of rushing water in the creek below you. It helped give us that extra push to continue on.

Getting Closer...
 About three miles in you come the a creek crossing. It is a great place to enjoy a break and relax (or to take pictures). There is a small waterfall cascading over a fallen tree. You can go hunting for salamanders or other creatures in the flowing creek. Once you are ready to continue on, its only a little farther to the half way point to the Summit which is the Orchard Camp. This is a great place to take a breather! Many people hike to this point then turn back around. But not us! We pushed on to the summit :)

Continuing on the trail does become a bit more exposed at times and eventually meets up with the Chantry Flats trail. Once the trails meet up, you will continue on up towards a road. You will hike along this road for a bit but don't miss the trail to the right that leads to the summit! We would have missed it if there weren't hikers coming down as we were passing. Going up the last bit of the trail is gorgeous with beautiful flowers and the sun shinning down on us. We were definitely exhausted but ready to reach the summit.

Relaxing At The Summit
The summit is a giant parking lot with an amazing overlook of the city below. We came at a great time in the day because the clouds were rolling in below us which made it look like a blanket of fluff! It was a view that was worth the hike. At the top there is the Cosmic Cafe that serves some delicious food and a water refill station for those brave enough to hike all the way up (that's us!). It was nice to have a seat, take off our shoes, and share a summit beer with each other. This hike was definitely a lot tougher then we had anticipated but the joy of finishing the first peak in the challenge made it worth it. We are definitely ready for the next peak! Cucamonga here we come ;)







Did you like this post? Do you have more suggestions regarding this hike or other hikes in the area? Leave a comment below and let us know :) 

Middle Fork Trail to Icehouse Saddle

Monday, May 2, 2016

Date: April 29th, 2016
Distance: 11.6 Miles (Out & Back)
Elevation: 7,600 Feet
Elevation Gain: 3,694 Feet
Difficulty: Strenuous
Parking: Adventure Pass Required (High Clearance Vehicle Recommended)
Location: Lytle Creek, CA

Middle Fork Trail Head
Every time Luke and I hike the Ice House Canyon Trail we always make it to the saddle and look over at the Middle Fork trail wondering what it would be like to start our hike from there. I have done part of it years ago with my older brother, but we went primarily to fish. Well, we finally decided to do it! We hiked the entire Middle Fork Trail to the Saddle. Boy where we surprised by how difficult it ended up being and how desolate it was. This is definitely a trail to hike if you are someone who wants to get away from it all.


The day started out bumpy as we drove towards the trail head on a dirt road. We suggest only taking high clearance vehicles due to the road condition. There was a few times when even we got a bit nervous in our 2015 Subaru Forester. Even being nervous we still managed to have a few laughs and made it safely to the parking lot. It quickly became apparent that we wouldn't be sharing the trail with many people that day as there was only two other cars parked. We gathered our gear and began our trek up the trail. The first 2 miles are exposed so make sure you bring lots of water and sunscreen but once you hit the tree line it becomes very shaded and green. We were shocked at how green everything was! To our surprise we found big Redwoods which were gorgeous! It was definitely a much different hike then we had expected.

Before we made it to the Third Stream Crossing (which is actually the only stream crossing), we passed up a couple of guys who were heading up to camp by the creek and another man heading back down the trail with his dog. We said a quick hello, asked how the trail was up ahead and continued on. Once we made it to the creek and crossed it we lost the trail. On the other side of the creek was an area for camping that had plenty of prime spots. We decided to head right and see where that would take us. Fortunately that was the right direction because it lead us to some rocks that shaped a "trail" leading to the actual trail. After that, the trail heads straight up!

At the Third Stream Crossing
It was quit a climb after that point. Leading us through more rocky terrain, then more forestry terrain, and back to rocky terrain. At a couple spots we lost the trail under all the foliage but with a couple helpful Red Ribbon markers we were able to stay on track. There were a few points where you couldn't see the trail through all the rock slides, but once you get close enough there it was! Small and thin but it was a trail. It was obvious that not a lot of people take this trail all the way to the saddle. We were having to push our way through bushes to stay on trail. It made it all the more adventurous for us! There were a few times where we had to just stop and admire everything that was around us. It was a beautiful sight... and quiet! We hadn't seen anyone since the Third Stream Crossing. Which was a nice change from our usual hikes on the Ice House Canyon Trail where you can run into 20 different hikers.

The last few switchbacks where tough. The trail goes back to being exposed and there were a couple of fallen trees we had to climb over. We finally got a glimpse of the last bit of snow from winter. It was a great view when we could finally see the saddle! We had made it! The feeling of accomplishment swarmed over us! After all this time of looking over at this trail, wondering what it would be like to hike it, we finally did! We love this trail and suggest it to anyone who is looking for a challenge, a change of scenery, and some solitude. Next time we go back we are bring our fishing poles and heading towards the creek!






Did you like this post? Do you have more suggestions regarding this hike or other hikes in the area? Leave a comment below and let us know :)

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