Etymology Story

Iron Mountain is a low collection of volcanic hills located south of Hinkley, CA. Situated a few miles west of Barstow along SR58, Hinkley appears to be a slowly dying desert community. A sign at the corner of Hinkley Rd and SR58 suggests PG&E is to blame for contaminating the groundwater with chromium 6 back in the 1950s and 1960s. The details can be found online, but the conclusions are far from obvious. Decades of litigation have muddied the science behind the cancer-causing effects of ingested chromium 6, so you'll have to draw your own conclusions. I was driving through the area on my way to the Bristol Mountains where I planned to join friends for a few days of peakbagging. I had a few hours before sunset to do some hiking, so I stopped to visit Iron Mtn which is mostly BLM lands interspersed with a few homesteads and private lands. From Hinkley Rd there are two ways to reach the center of the hill cluster, both of which are fine for all vehicles. On the way in I used Iron Mtn Rd which is an old paved road, no longer maintained. On the way out I took a shortcut to get back to Hinkley Rd, unsigned Shaves Rd which is good dirt. I found no issues with ruts or sand.

I spent about 2.5hrs making a circuit around the three summits that exceed 300ft in prominence. The hiking is easy across open desert with light vegetation and good footing. None of the peaks are particularly high or remarkable, but with temps in the 50s, no wind and the sun low in the sky for good colors, I found it highly enjoyable. The highest, Iron Mtn East, has an old survey tower and the fallen remnants of an antenna that used to serve some purpose. There is a benchmark here as well. I found no registers on any of the summits and left them pretty much as I found them. There is a good deal of trash found along the access roads and nearby, the result of the lands being used as a dumping ground for some unthinking folks. Some of the trash was dumped right in the roadway, requiring one to drive around or through it. Luckily that didn't detract significantly from the fine desert hiking I found away from the roads.


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This page last updated: Thu Dec 1 18:08:24 2016
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