Peak 770ft P300
San Tuze BM
Buzzard Peak P300
Peak 1,381ft P300
Elephant Hill
Way Hill

Fri, Apr 20, 2018
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 4 GPXs: 1 2 3 4


I was in the West Covina/Azusa area with my wife to watch our son running in a track meet at Azusa Pacific, his first event in California while running for Marquette (Milwaukee, WI). He ran his 1500m event in the early morning, finishing in 4:05, a respectable time, then took off with his buddies to visit the beach at Santa Monica, the first time any of his pals had seen the Pacific Ocean. Mom went back to the hotel while Dad, naturally, went out to do some hiking. I hit up a half dozen summits found on LoJ in the San Jose Hills and Puente Hills, south of where we were staying off Interstate 10. None were difficult, the hardest involving less than 1,000ft of gain and only a few miles. Most were on publicly accessible lands, the last one on private property. All were surrounded by heavy development and noisy freeways, leaving little to recommend them, save perhaps for some nice views of the San Gabriel Mtns to the north.

Peak 770ft

This one lies on private property, it would appear, but exactly who owns it is up for debate. According to the USGS, it is part of the Puente Hills. The benchmark shown on the topo map at 809ft no longer exists as the whole summit area has been heavily graded. As others have pointed out, the new highpoint is well to the west, behind a pair of water tanks in that direction. There are eight homes on the east end of the summit, accessible via BV Handorf Dr from the north off Temple Ave, but there is a guard station there. Another road from the west - San Jose Ave - also leads to the top, but it is gated at the edge of a neighborhood. Lots of high fences around the water tanks and on the ridgelines to the west, too. My ascent route was from the end of Banbridge Ave to the southwest, involving a steep, somewhat loose climb up from an empty lot at the end of a cul-de-sac. Once on the ridge, I followed a use trail up to a fenceline (with a hole conveniently cut in it), which then soon led to the pair of water tanks on the inside of the high, barbed-wire topped fence. I found myself just outside the highpoint at a small utility shack on the other side of the fence. Finding no nearby breaches in the fence, over I went, a feat not for the faint of heart. After taking a few photos, I looked for a way to walk back along the ridgeline I'd followed, but the outside of the fence had fields of cacti effectively blocking a route in that direction. Rather than go back over the fence, I dropped down the hillside to the west, landing me on Pleasanthome Dr, but not after briefly passing through someone's frontyard property. Not really sure which route I would recommend - both have their downsides.

San Tuze BM

This benchmarked summit at the west end of the San Jose Hills has also seen significant grading, the highpoint no longer near the benchmark location. When I visited, they were working on the final dozen new homes built where the summit used to be. I parked on Walnut Vista Way and walked into the new neighborhood for a photo before finding a way around the outside fences to the west (via a path leading to some view benches), that I could follow to the new highpoint found to the southwest about 500ft from the old highpoint. This point is a bit brushy, but beggars can't be choosy. To the southwest is what appears to be a closed landfill while to the west is the Galster Wilderness Park. Perhaps the old landfill and this summit can be combined with the Wilderness Park for a larger Open Space for the community. Or perhaps they'll just build more homes.

Buzzard Peak

This is the highpoint of the San Jose Hills, preserved for the time being from development. There is a nice trail going across the summit from west to east, but access is far from obvious. The western TH is along busy S. Grand Ave, with No Parking along both sides of the roadway. One can park on Hillside Dr to the west and cross the busy street, or to the north on Cameron Ave (where parking is extremely limited) and walk the side of Grand Ave to the TH. The Buzzard Peak Trail (really an old motorway) goes to the summit in about a mile and a half, or almost to it, threading its way through various neighborhoods encroaching on the hillsides. The last bit to the summit requires one to climb up a steep use trail either from the east (better defined trail) or the southwest (less well-defined). The summit has a battered benchmark, an American flag and a white plastic chair with which to take in the views of Mt. Baldy and the glory that is the surrounding communities of the greater LA Basin. I explored a few optional descent routes, but these seemed to lead to either unrewarding bushwhacking or Beware of Dog signs and similar. I ended up retreating back the way I came.

Peak 1,381ft

This and Elephant Hill are found at the northeast end of the Puente Hills. The area around Peak 1,381ft is Open Space with multiple access points. The shortest approach is off Los Coyotes Dr to the southwest where a use trail heads up to the left of a large water tank. Views overlook the Phillips Ranch suburban development to the south and west, the older Westmont community to the northeast.

Elephant Hill

About a mile northwest of Peak 1,381ft, Elephant Hill lies immediately east of the 57 freeway, making it a noisy summit. The south side features a large, whitish rock face that appears to have been quarried in the distant past. Today, a small development is squeezed between the rock face and busy W Mission Blvd. Access is via a gaping opening in the fence at the end of Sorrento Dr, next to the development. Some homeless encampments can be found in the area through the fence. Use trails lead up towards the summit, but they seem to peter out before reaching it. Still, the brush is mild and cross-country travel not difficult. In addition to the freeway views, one can see Cal Poly Pomona to the northwest and lots of industrial developments immediately below the summit to the west and north.

Way Hill

This is an exceedingly minor hill in San Dimas, with Gladstone St running over its north shoulder. A home sits atop the highpoint which has been graded flat. The highest publicly accessible point is at the end of N. Cataract Ave to the east where one is about 10ft below the highpoint. A private driveway off Gladstone St, signed for No Trespassing, can be used to reach the highpoint. If one were to drive up there, lingering perhaps because they needed to change out a camera battery while about to take a photo, their presence might draw the irate owner out of the house to glare at them as they drive back down the driveway. Just something to consider.


Submit online comments or corrections about the story.

More of Bob's Trip Reports

This page last updated: Wed Jan 30 11:58:09 2019
For corrections or comments, please send feedback to: