I was camped off SR74, the Pines to Palms Hwy, somewhere around 3,000ft above
the Coachella Valley. I was meeting my wife in Huntington Beach in the
afternoon and had planned an easy day doing some simple summits on my way west.
They were fairly short, none of them were more than a mile each way, one just
Black Hill is located on the north side of SR74, east of the crest,
rising up to less than 4,000ft. I parked
at a small turnout SE of the summit and started up from there.
It's a fun bit of scrambling up a granite boulder-strewn slope. The granite
quality is a bit lacking due to loose outer grains, making it less fun than it
could be. Though a short distance, it's a pretty decent climb with about 600ft
of gain over 1/3mi, taking about an hour roundtrip. I had gotten up early,
hoping to get to the summit in time for sunrise, but
the sun came up a little too early, when I was only halfway up.
At the summit I found a register from 2006, all of the loose pages from
the same party. They had neglected to
leave a pencil which might explain why no one else has signed it in the last
12 years. I left one of the extras I usually carry with me before heading
back down a slightly different route.
Santa Rosa Wilderness HP
The highpoint of the Santa Rosa Mtns is Toro Peak, but because it lies on
reservation lands, the Wilderness HP lies about half a mile to the north,
downslope from Toro Peak. It's not quite a "liner," as there's actually a neat
pile of rocks just inside the Wilderness boundary to form a highpoint. The
trick on this one is getting to the turnout about 50yds from the highpoint.
Forest Route 7S02 is long and quite rough in places. I spent more than
an hour driving about 12mi from SR74 up to the turnout for the
Wilderness HP. I walked out to the highpoint, took a picture looking
up to Toro Peak and another looking down to Coachella Valley,
then I got back in Jeep and drove another hour back to the
highway. Yup, that's pretty crazy. I'd have tagged the HPS summits of Santa
Rosa Mtn and Toro Peak while I was there if I hadn't already visited those
This minor summit is located in an interesting area on the west side of the
Pacific Crest, north of SR74, in the same vicinity as the HPS summits of
Butterfly Peak and Rock Point. Though located in National Forest, access is
somewhat tricky, as the area is blocked by a private equestrian ranch
community. The Buckeye Trail off Table Mtn Rd is signed for
residents only. I simply parked on Table Mtn Rd, greeted the three
dogs and three residents gathered at the TH, and proceeded in like I owned the
place. The trail leads into the National Forest, then splits into a
whole network of informal side trails,
all unsigned and unmaintained. There are piles of granite boulders built up
in various places amongst the various trails, some looking like tough scrambles.
Gold Hill is one of the highest lumps, found about a mile from the TH. I
wandered the trails, making my way in the general direction of Gold
Hill, eventually finding myself on the south side. From there I went
steeply up the sandy slope, dodging yucca and other vegetation to find my way to
the top. A new register was placed at the summit (oddly, not
at the highpoint, but another boulder to the west) earlier in the year by Peter Doggett, veteran HPS peakbagger. I decided on a whim to randomly go
down the west side of the peak, finding it
wasn't the smartest idea, but it was fun, a challenging scramble down
through rock and brush that seemed to go on far longer than it should have. I
eventually found my way back to the trail system and then back out
the Buckeye Trail I had started on. Lots of fun to be had in this area.
This is one of the lamest summits I've been to yet. Found on the east side of
the Santa Ana Mtns, just west of Interstate 15 and north of Murrieta, it's hard
to imagine how the USGS was convinced to add this to the maps. It's little more
than a small bump on the west end of a higher, unnamed hill upon which
sit two water
tanks. I grabbed a Mike Sullivan GPX track off PB which starts from the higher
hill. There are easier ways to get to Chaney Hill, but this one isn't more than
about a half hour's effort, plus you get to count the PB-only summit of
"Gateway Hill". There's a locked gate on Gateway Dr off Jefferson Ave, but one
can drive around it to access an informal OHV area north of the water tanks. I
parked just below the tanks, walked up to them, then down
to Chaney Hill on various old roads and tracks, wading through dry
grass and trash to stand upon a very uninspiring "summit."
Later the same evening I texted Mark McCormick to
make fun of him for tagging this one too, and he pointed the finger at Laura
Newman for adding it to PB. I should have known...