Hiking the Inland Empire

If you are one those people that loves the outdoors then the Inland Empire is a great place to be.  Among all of this suburban sprawl you have all the benefits of the urban areas and the great outdoors.   In the Inland Empire you are as little as minutes away from a great trail to at most a couple hours. It just depends where exactly you are at.

The Inland Empire is home to some great hiking trails and mountain peaks.  Three great peaks over 10,000 feet that many use as training hikes for Mt. Whitney are Mt. San Jacinto (10,834 feet), Mt. San Gorgonio (11,503 feet) and Mt. San Antonio (10,064 feet).  These are all close enough to make into day hikes.

If you are really adventurous, and fit, you can even hit as many as 9 peaks in one day.  Best to make it a Summer day though, becaue it is a long hike.  Starting at the trail head to San Antonio Falls you can hike to West Baldy via the ski hut trail.  From there you hit Mount Baldy (10,064 feet).  Descend the trail and make a quick jaunt up to the top of Mount Harwood (9,552 feet).  Then descend down the Devil's Backbone trail to the Mount Baldy Notch where you can catch a short respite and refresh yourself at the Baldy Lodge.

After a short break you head east and begin climbing again to reach the three Tee's Trail. This trail will take you 5.4 mile from Baldy Notch to Ice House Saddle across the peaks known as Thunder Mountain, Telegraph Peak, and Timber Mountain.  Once you reach elevation, getting to each of the peaks isn't that difficult.  They are just a short distance from the main trail.  However, after hiking up to the top of Mount San Antonio (a.k.a Mount Baldy) you won't have much energy unless you are an experienced and exceptionally fit person.  If you are, then just making these 6 peaks is a great accomplishment.

Following the trail from Timber Mountain you descend to the Ice House saddle where you can again rest and regain some strength.  Here you can begin your descent into the Ice House Canyon and back to the parking lot satisfied that you have had one heck of a long day and a satisfying hike. (Keep in mind that this is NOT the same parking lot where you parked at the beginning.  So be prepared to have a shuttle back to your car).  Of course, if hiking 6 peaks in one day isn't enough, you can get three more.

From the Ice House saddle, head toward Cucamonga Peak.  I understand this is another but kicker of a trail to get to the top.  Everyone that I have spoken to has said it is well worth the hike though.  From the top of Cucamonga Peak you can look down on the valley below which includes the cities of Fontana, Cucamonga, Etiwanda, Upland, Ontario and Alta Loma to name just a few.

Of course, now that you are at the top of Cucamonga and you have all kinds of time and energy left, why not go to a lesser travelled peak.  This peak is so close it is almost shameful to not get to the peak.  So few people go to this peak that you may find it difficult to find the trail. The peak is Bighorn Peak and it lies between Cucamonga Peak and Ontario Peak.

This brings us to the last of the trifecta trifeca.  Ontario Peak is the last peak.  The only real challenge of this last peak is if you have already been to the top of the other eight.  The hike to it is not overly difficult but you may be surprised at how many times you think you are there only to find it is just a little further.  Again, you get a great view of the valley below.  You can even get cell phone service to call home and brag about your accomplishment.

Once you have made it to the top of Ontario peak you can back track 1.8 miles to the Bighorn Saddle and descend to Kelly's camp for a little respite or even to take an overnight to recover before heading back toward Ice House Saddle.  Now take the Ice House Canyon trail down the mountain to the parking lot where hopefully you have transportation waiting to take you back to the San Antonion Falls trail head.

So are you an avid outdoor enthusiast looking for a weekend filled with adventure?  You can definitely find it here in the Inland Empire.  These nine peaks are just the ones in a relatively small area.  Your total distance covered (not including the ride back to the trail head) is only 26 miles +- 2 miles.  I throw in the extra miles to account for some of the slight jaunts to the peaks just off the main trail.

Twenty six miles is a lot of miles to cover in one day. Given that several of these trails have significant elevation gain they are also hard earned miles.  However, where else can you hit 9 peaks in one day covering only 26 miles?

Have you been to any of these peaks?  Talk back in the comments.