Arlington Mountain P300
Peak 1,740ft P300
Peak 1,622ft P300
Monument Peak P300
Gavilan Peak P300
Peak 2,729ft P500
Ida BM P300

Sun, Dec 23, 2018

With: Jackie Burd

Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 GPX


Traveling between Santa Clarita and San Diego for the holidays, Jackie and I stopped off for some gratuitous peakbagging in the western part of Riverside County around Lake Matthews. The area has a long history of rural development, recently beginning to see the more upscale suburban development SoCal is well noted for. There is a surprising amount of undeveloped land laced with dirt roads that appear to be quite popular with local motorcycle and ATV enthusiasts. There are few No Trespassing signs and fewer gates, and it seems the place is peppered with informal camping, shooting and drinking spots. There are no signs to indicate who owns the various parcels which have been abused with old couches dumped here and there, broken glass, and other trash that seem to come with being close to urban centers (Corona and Riverside, in this case). The early rains had brought green grass to much of the area and it looked quite nice for our late December visit. Jackie was feeling particularly lazy today, not accompanying me for any of the summits, even when I was able to drive within a few dozen yards on several of them. None of the peaks was more than a half mile walk to the summit and most were much shorter.

Peak 1,740ft

Dirt Eagle Valley Rd winds its way through Eagle Valley and some hills west of Lake Matthews. Lesser roads, some in good condition, fork west towards Peak 1,740ft and Peak 1,622ft. Both are located on quarry property. A rough road, fun in the jeep, leads one to within about 20yds of the summit of Peak 1,740ft. A formidable fence runs across the summit between the highpoint and where we parked. Jackie played in the grass while I went up and over the fence. The quarry has literally cut the mountain in two, leaving the highpoint unscathed but the whole western half has been cut away and hauled off to make gravel and sand, eventually becoming part of the surrounding concrete & ashphalt jungle.

Peak 1,622ft

This is all that remains of what was once a bigger and higher mountain. Most of it has been carved up and it is still undergoing a slow, methodical disassembly. There are trucks and mining equipment all over the mountain. A fence keeps out unwanted traffic about a quarter mile from the summit on the east side. This fence is a little easier to breach than the first one. The summit has been bulldozed and rearranged, leaving some loose rocks dumped over the east side of the summit that one must use care in ascending. After returning to the jeep and collecting Jackie who was roaming a nearby hill, we started driving out when we were confronted by an irate man in a white pickup. He was none too happy with having seen me on the other side of the fence and wanted to know what malfeasance I was up to. He didn't buy that I was just hiking, but eventually came around and lightened up. It turns out he wasn't employed by the quarry at all, but lived adjacent to it and was looking out for their interests. He told us of vandalism that had happened recently on the property but then veered off about some conspiracy involving a competing quarry and God knows what else. He was smiling and joking when we left, so I figured I'd done well to disarm him. Five years ago this would have mortified Jackie with shame and embarassment, but now she just takes it in stride as something that goes with the following her dad around.

Arlington Mtn

Perhaps the lamest of the bunch, this one is the highpoint of an upscale suburban development. A municipal water tank lies at the highest point, signed for No Trespassing at the access road. Jackie stayed in the jeep parked in the neighborhood while I went up to check out the views. Nothing much to report on this one.

Monument Peak

This was the most interesting summit, located a few miles south of Lake Matthews. A series of rough dirt roads allowed us to drive within 40yds of the summit. I might have been able to drive to the top, but the jeep may have taken some strong hits to the undercarriage. There are a pair of crude benches built at the summit overlooking the lake to the north, a few empty Bud Light cans scattered about. A fire pit completed the scene. Just down the hill in a ravine were the remains of a pickup that appears to have slipped off the roadway and was never extracted, probably back in the 1990s. The hills may have been slick from rain or perhaps alcohol was involved, maybe both.

Gavilan Peak

This minor summit lies in the middle of the Gavilan Plateau, southeast of the lake. The left half of the plateau is occupied by a large agriculture concern with acres upon acres of plastic-covered greenhouses. Dirt roads criss-cross the eastern half where motorcyclists seem to have the run of the place. We drove in on a utility road and parked at the edge of the mountain on the southeast side. I was up and down in short order, then we drove to a nearby rock outcrop that had caught Jackie's attention. Partially covered in graffiti, the rock has a number of fun little scrambling problems that we explored for 15-20min before getting our fill.

Peak 2,729ft

This summit is gated about half a mile from the summit, making it the longest hike of the day. There are several empty parcels for sale along the road leading to the top, but no signs forbidding trespassing. The top has a small telecom installation and nice views overlooking the Gavilan Plateau to the north, Estelle Mountain to the west and a host of minor hills to the east and south.

Ida Benchmark

Our last summit of the day is found east of Gavilan Plateau amongst some older, rural homesteads. A dirt road, more commonly used by ATVs, can be used to get within 0.2mi of the summit on the north side. I parked off the busier road on a spur at the base of the hill, near the burned-out hulk of a car. A short but steep hike leads to the open summit. It might be possible to drive to the top, but portions of the route are composed of steep, loose dirt and it would have taken some effort - much easier on foot. I stayed only long enough to snap a few pictures before heading down. There were ATVs active on the road below and I knew Jackie wouldn't be too comfortable hanging out in the jeep. I had a few other peaks in mind to do as well, but Jackie was asking if we could be done for the day. It was after 2p and I figured the others could wait for another time. We plottted a course for Rancho Bernardo about 60mi to the south and headed off to Grandma's house - Over the River and Through the Woods...

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