Black Mountain P750
Mica Butte P300
Peak 1,874ft P300
Peak 2,167ft P500
Peak 1,859ft P300
Double Butte East P500
Peak 2,081ft P300
Tres Cerritos West P500
Tres Cerritos East P300
Tres Cerritos South

Sat, Apr 23, 2022
Black Mountain
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 GPX


I was heading back from San Diego to San Jose after taking care of some family business. I would take a few days for peakbagging along the way. I was up early, saying goodbye to my mother-in-law, then headed out to the Temecula Valley and Diamond Valley Lake areas in Riverside County. None of the day's hikes was very long, but there were enough of them to keep me busy for most of the day.

Black Mountain

This was the highest and most prominent summit on the day, found in the hills south of Diamond Valley Lake. I believe it lies entirely on private property, but it doesn't appear to be vigorously defended. I had made a half-hearted effort to reach this one back in 2014 when I climbed the nearby Rawson Mtns highpoint. At the time, I thought it looked too brushy and didn't feel like a tough bushwhack late in the day. I had spent some time studying the satellite view recently and decided the route from the east off Black Mtn Rd wouldn't be too brushy. There is an old spur road off Black Mtn Rd that climbs a bit higher on the east side to a clearing. I could have driven it, but didn't know at the time and simply hiked from Black Mtn Rd. I spent just under an hour hiking the 0.4mi to the summit with about 800ft of gain. It was moderately brushy and steep for the most part, not exactly fun. I was surprised to see two younger guys at the summit who were as surprised to see me. Turns out they were locals having come up from the southeast. We had a short chat while I took photos of the benchmark and views. Bachelor Mtn to the west caught my attention and I asked them about it, but they didn't have any idea, not even knowing its name. We parted ways and I returned back down the way I came.

Mica Butte

This summit is located on the southeast side of Diamond Valley Lake. The summit and much of the butte are on BLM lands, but are surrounded by private property. It wasn't on my radar until I was driving north on De Portola Rd and it caught my attention. I made a first effort to approach from the south via Saddle Ridge Rd, but that fizzled when it appeared that corner of the mountain was blocked by a residence. My next effort was more successful, off Cactus Valley Rd on the north side. A gated spur road goes higher to a water tank. I parked just east of this spur road in a clearing and went up to the access road, and then up to the main N-S ridgeline, easy cross-country with light brushwhacking. Not sure why this is called "Butte" instead of "Ridge", but so it goes. I encountered an old bulldozer rusting amongst the brush low on the mountain, evidently abandoned and forgotten. Near the summit I encountered a snake pretending to be a rattler, startling me and getting away before I could get a good photo. I reached the summit in 25min, finding a class 2-3 rock outcrop at the highpoint. There are good views overlooking Diamond Valley to the north and smaller valleys west and east. I left a register on the summit before heading down. The base of the mountain on the east side appears to be criss-crossed with OHV tracks and what looked like an easier ascent line. I dropped off the east side to take advantage of this, finding what looks to have been a OHV playground for many years, with the expected trash, shooting debris and many trail threads. Only after returning to the Jeep to the north did I find that the area has been fenced off to keep out vehicles and people alike. Much of the land appears to have been part of the Diamond Valley Golf Resort, now defunct. It may be slated for tract homes coming to the area soon.

Peak 1,874ft

I next drove to the Diamond Lake Marina with intentions of tagging two unnamed summits on the north side of the lake. After hiking about a mile on the shadeless trail around a portion of the lake, I eventually realized both summits were out of bounds. Poaching them seemed likely to draw attention since there was no hiding on the slopes to reach them. I backed off and headed to Peak 1,874ft instead. It is located a few miles north of the lake, a tiny, standalone summit with an old road going to the top. I found the road ungated and unsigned, accessed through a vacate space between two rural homesteads. I could have driven to the top in the Jeep, but not seeing any recent signs of use and not knowing the road's condition, I hiked it from the pavement of California Av. It took less than 15min to find my way to the summit where there is some sort of exercise bar and not much else. Wide open views, though. Seems this summit was slated for development at one time, then abandoned after it had been leveled.

Peak 2,167ft

These next two summits are located west of Diamond Valley Lake. Peak 2,167ft is on private property, but not signed or gated. I drove dirt Busby Rd east from paved Leon Rd past a few rural homes and then halfway up the mountain to where it make a sharp turn. The road is very rough and suitable only for Jeep-like vehicles. I might have driven higher, but there was little evidence of use and I didn't have the nerve to try. A rough-looking guy in a beater Suburban came driving down a spur road from the west after I parked. I suspect he was camping at the end of the road there. From my parking spot, it took but 11min to make my way to the summit via the old road and a motorcycle track.

Peak 1,859ft

Found east of Peak 2,167ft across Leon Rd, most of the east side of Peak 1,859ft is on BLM lands. I parked at the junction with Busby Rd and crossed an open field with tall grass, unfenced and unsigned (but private) to reach the base of the peak and the BLM land. It took 15min via cross-country to reach the class 3 summit boulders. On the way down, I followed a use trail to the northeast that made things a little less brushy. It seemed to be following the ridgeline in that direction towards the neighborhood to the north, so I eventually had to leave it and return back across the field I started on.

Double Butte East

Double Butte is located a few miles north of the previous two summits. As the name suggests, it has two summits. I had been to the higher west butte in 2014 when I was chasing down P900s. The east summit has more than 700ft of prominence, and is a fine objective in its own right. There is an old dirt road running up the SE Ridge. There is an access road from the south off Grand Ave, unsigned and ungated. I drove to a small clearing low on the SE ridge and started on foot from there. Braver Jeepers could probably drive much higher, but there is a very rough obstacle immediately above where I parked. The road makes the hiking a piece of cake, reaching to a high saddle NE of the summit. A motorcycle track can then be followed to the summit. It took about 35min to make my way to the highpoint overlooking Diamond Valley Lake and the community of Winchester to the south. Snowy San Gorgonio could be seen in the distance to the north over the nearby Lakeview Mtns.

Peak 2,081ft

This summit is found between Double Butte and Peak 1,874ft. There is a telecom installation on the lower north summit with a road from the northwest going to it. The west side is a small OHV playground, all of it private property. There was a trio of teenagers on ATVs and a motorcycle riding around. When they spotted me approaching in the Jeep on the OHV roads, they stopped, watched me, and then darted off, apparently thinking I was there to bust them. I parked just below the locked gate on the road to the antennae, then hiked a combination of road and cross-country to the higher south summit in less than 20min. The kids never did come back out of hiding while I was off hiking.

Tres Cerritos

As the name suggests, there are three peaklets to this small set of hills on the east side of the Lakeview Mountains. A suburban development has been recently planted on the northwest side. Tahquitz High School is to the northeast. The summit area is owned by the water company that maintains a pair of water tanks just below Tres Cerritos East. The south side is slated for more development, but is currently just rough pads and is fenced off. Almost. I found a way to drive the Jeep in from the southeast at the corner of Rose Rd and Myers St. This allowed me to drive 2/3mi closer, to a gate on the road leading to the water tanks, between the west and south summits. I parked the Jeep in plain view to the south, hoping I would be able to do a loop around the three summits before anyone would come check on me. I spent an hour and twenty minutes hitting the west, east and south summits in turn, mostly cross-country with some help from use trails. The terrain was rock, grass, thistles and brush, mixing fun with mild pain over the course of the outing. I left a register on the higher west summit. It would be nearly 5p when I finished up. I took a nice jug shower where I had parked before heading back down to town. I wiled away the remaining daylight at a Starbucks in Hemet before driving west to Menifee where I found a very cool place to spend the night halfway up the east side of Peak 2,141ft. A steep Jeep road climbs to a clearing overlooking the Heritage Lake Park community. No wild teenagers or curious police would disturb my campsite above the suburban road noise below...


Avery Wear comments on 06/08/22:
Hey Bob-

Thanks for this! I've been wondering about Black Mountain for a while. How is Black Mountain Road? Good dirt or something worse? And does the brush ever get bad?

Black Mtn Rd is paved. The spur road would probably require high-clearance. The brush never gets bad, but not pleasant, either.
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