Peak 5,260ft P300
Peak 5,568ft
Peak 5,890ft P300
Bighorn Mountains PP P300
Peak 5,620ft

Thu, Feb 3, 2022
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX

My original plan was to spend four days in Joshua Tree, but as I was looking at the maps of the area, I got distracted by the Bighorn Mtns at the eastern end of the San Bernardino Mtns. This desert subrange has peaks up to almost 7,000ft. They lie in the rain shadow of the higher peaks to the west, so remain very dry. They get occasional snow, but it tends to melt quickly. The area is home to the Bighorn Mountains Wilderness and a surprising number of BLM OHV trails. The Wilderness is broken up into multiple parcels to allow the OHV roads to remain usable. The trails look to get lots of use - there is little brush encroachment, though some of the routes are on the difficult side. I used 4Low and my lockers on one particularly steep section, and there were plenty of rocks on a few of the trails to keep me on my toes. From SR247 I used New Dixie Mine Rd heading west, intending to make a big loop through Rim Rock and out to Yucca Valley the next day. All the hikes were short, less than 3/4mi each way, most of them much less than this. All the peaks were easy class 2 save for the one spot I found some class 3 scrambling, completely avoidable.

Peak 5,260ft

The lowest of the day's summits, but had the most prominence. It is found about 5mi in on New Dixie Rd, on the north side. A spur road gets one even closer, making for a half mile hike each way. A couple of members of the P.P.P.P. left a register in 2010. Looks to be an informal group paying homage to the smoking of weed. They called it Willy Boy Peak, presumably in reference to the interesting tale of Willie Boy from 1909. He died on nearby Ruby Mtn to the west after being chased by a posse for months. I used an easy class 2 route on the way up, then switched up for some class 3 scrambling through a small cliff area on the way down. Good fun.

Peak 5,568ft

This was the shortest hike at less than 1/5mi each way. I parked off a spur road on the north side where there is a badly abused but functional picnic bench. The topo map shows two points vying for highpoint honors, with LoJ choosing the western contour as the highest. The reality is that the eastern one is obviously higher. I will have to get LoJ to change that, but it will get demoted as a soft-ranked summit.

Peak 5,890ft

This was the highest of the day's summits, at close to 6,000ft. Found in the Wilderness, I had to walk the bit of road now inside it. Still, it was only about 3/4mi each way. I left a register on this one.

Bighorn Mtns PP

I have this as the most prominent summit in the Bighorn Mtns. The subrange is poorly defined by the USGS on the topo maps, and seems to encompass little more than the highpoint ridgeline (an HPS summit), which doesn't even have 300ft of prominence. This peak may or may not be included in the range, but it does have more than 300ft of prominence. I went up an old road, now part of the Wilderness for about half the distance, then cross-country to the top. On the way back, I took an all cross-country route, more direct, that I thought worked better. As I was leaving a register here, I got a call from my daughter. I sat on the leeward side of a boulder to chat with her about her latest frustration with school and her tough class on transmission line theory. We had a few good laughs with the bitch session, but I had to cut it short after about 20min as I was freezing my butt off.

Peak 5,620ft

The roads getting to this one were rougher than the others, high-clearance with some tight turns and obstacles - good fun. The hike is short, a quarter mile each way. The highpoint is not where one would guess from looking at the top or where folks left small cairns, but at an outcrop to the south. I got to the summit in time for sunset. It was 37F, but the cold wind was at least diminishing.

After returning to the Jeep, I did the hardest driving yet in getting out of the New Dixie drainage into the adjacent Rattlesnake Canyon. Light was getting scarce, but I made the two miles of tough driving without too much trouble. I found a flat place to camp at the junction of Viscera Spring and Mound Spring Rds. More fun tomorrow...


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