I was in back Southern California to meet up with my wife who was reffing
beach volleyball over the weekend. We spent the morning together before she
had to head off in the afternoon for the start of play, leaving me to do some
peakbagging. My original plan was to drive up to the top of SR74 in the Santa
Ana Mtns to ply the dirt truck trail along the crest of the range to tag a few
neglected summits. I found the forest road closed (to vehicles and foot traffic
alike) at the highway to visitors due to fire damage, so
I switched gears and headed east into Riverside County for some unnamed summits
east of Lake Elsinore.
Road construction on the highway east of the summit had
traffic backed up for miles, which meant it would be much later than I had
hoped before I got started on foot.
This peaks is part of a conservation parcel managed by the Center for Natural
Lands Management, just east of Lake Elsinore and Interstate 15. The lands
between Interstates 15 and 214 are mostly treeless, rolling hills covered in
tall grasses and brush. I used a track
by Michael Sulivan to make a looping route about a mile and a half in length.
When I got out of the car at the end of Scenic Ridge Dr, there was a guy on
horseback 50yds off, sort of watching me. I thought maybe he was there to keep
me from trespassing as I hadn't yet discovered it was on land open to the
After reading the sign and figuring it was ok to be there, I went over
the railing and followed along a use trail. It turns out the equestrian was one
of three there to rustle up a wayward cattle
that had wandered off from the
rest of the herd. They warned me to keep a wide berth as they worked to get it
tied up and under control. I continued up the trail to the summit in about
20min where I found a nice view overlooking Canyon Lake to ,4>the southeast.
It does not appear that the informal trails
get much use as I found them mostly
overgrown. Perhaps the presence of cattle keep the locals from using them, or
perhaps they're just not all that inviting. When I got back to the jeep,
my exit blocked by a cattle trailer. It took the trio some time to get the
steer and the two horses secured inside, after which they drove off down through
the residential neighborhood to take their load back to the ranch on the other
side of the summit.
Located about a mile and a half south of Canyon Lake, the peak features
a water tank. I accessed it via gravel Lost Rd to the west of the peak.
Just past an abandoned property one can find a route without fence or sign,
climbing cross-country up the steep west side. It took less
than 15min to reach the top with a view southeast to the highpoint of
the Sedco Hills, a summit I had visited previously. Peak 2,300ft's highest point
is a rock just outside the fence surrounding the water tank, so no need
to breech the formidable razor-wire fence. To the northwest could be
seen Peak 2,262ft, and it was to this that I next turned my attention.
Found on the west side of Lost Rd, less than a mile from Peak 2,300ft, this
summit lies on some sort of land trust property. To the south is an informal
OHV area and I had some fun driving the jeep up to a saddle on a ridge
about a quarter mile south of the summit. There is a fence here,
indicating motor vehicles are prohibited further north. From where I parked, I
headed downhill on an overgrown road, then other tracks to climb up to Peak
2,262ft. There was a small memorial plaque calling this DJ's Peak.
Nice views of the surrounding hills, still very green from
this season's abundant rainfall. I had picked this route to allow me
to also access the PB-only summit of Guadalupe Hill that was on the way.
The last three peaks are all located southeast of Canyon Lake, on either side of
Canyon Hills Rd, above the suburban community in the valley below. I climbed
Peak 1,951ft from the southeast, starting from Hillside Dr. After climbing up
a drainage culvert, I found a use trail that conviently makes
its way to the top of the grassy hill. It took about 15min for the
short roundtrip effort.
I used another Michael Sullivan track to climb this and PB-only Pt. 1,893ft
from the south off Heather Ridge Rd. Access is above a drainage culvert on the
north side of the road where no homes are present. It's not obvious from the
start, but there is use trail that can make it easier to get up
the brushy slopes. Once on the ridge above, an old track runs left to
Peak 2,001ft and right to Pt. 1,893ft, both easy hikes. Peak 2,001ft has two
closely spaced summits. The track goes to the western point where a
wooden cross is found, made from 2x4s and painted white. The
other summit is a little brushy to get to and appears to be slightly
higher. Pt. 1,893ft has the best of both worlds in a red part of the state - a
white cross with an American flag attached - no need for separation of
Church and State here. Views from both summits take in the upscale
suburban neighborhoods of Canyon Lake found north and south of the ridge. The
manmade lake has two arms called Canyon Bay and East Bay that were
intricately designed to maximize the number of
lake front properties, each with a dock and boathouse - not bad for what would
otherwise be considered a desert community.
This last summit is found on the south side of Canyon Hills Rd, on private
property. Starting from the end of Piedmont Dr, one has to walk past No
Trespassing signs to gain access to the grassy slopes. There do not appear to
be any residences up here, so little chance of upsetting anyone. My ascent
route was mostly cross-country, the descent down an old road,
a smaller variation of a Mike Sullivan looping route I had on my GPSr.
The summit wasn't much,
just a rounded hump the old road travels over. Views north and west cover the
newer suburban developments, while those east and south look over the older,
more rural homesteads. It was after 7p by the time I found my way back to the
jeep, just after sunset. That would be enough for one afternoon...