Penstock Ridge 2x P300
Lower Lytle Creek Ridge P500
Lower Lytle Creek Ridge North P500
Upper Lytle Creek Ridge P300
Peak 3,620ft P300
Peak 3,900ft P300

Fri, Apr 28, 2023

With: Tom Becht
Tom Grundy
Iris Ma
Jeff Moffat

Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 GPX
Penstock Ridge previously climbed Sat, Apr 1, 2017


I was in Southern California during a brief heatwave, hoping the higher elevations of the San Bernardino National Forest would provide some relief. The highest elevations were still buried in snow, so we had to stay below 7,000ft if we wanted to avoid the stuff, which would be a sloppy mess with the warm temps. Five of us were in the Lytle Creek area in the eastern San Gabriels for some summits along Lytle Creek Ridge, made far easier with the aid of two Jeeps.

Penstock Ridge

We met around 7a at the junction of paved Lytle Creek Rd and Forest Road 2N79 at the north end of Penstock Ridge. This is a smaller, lower ridge wedged between Lower Lytle Creek Ridge and Lytle Creek. TomB and I had been to this summit six years earlier at the end of a brutal day to Chalk Peak. It is a drive-up to the open, grassy summit with decent views.

Lower Lytle Creek Ridge

This is another drive-up, about a mile north of Penstock Ridge. The windy road had us driving almost half an hour between the two. The highpoint is 700ft higher than Penstock Ridge and much better views. Still plenty of snow in the Mt. Baldy area to the west.

Keen BM

This is a PB-only summit found about a mile northwest of the previous summit, and along our drive to Lower Lytle Creek Ridge North. There is an old firebreak on the northwest side that we used to hike the short distance to the benchmark. TomG had us hike a bit past this to the local highpoint for the fun of it. Nice view of Cajon Canyon to the northeast. Less than 15min for the roundtrip hike.

Lower Lytle Creek Ridge North

We continued our drive northwest along Lower Lytle Creek Ridge, passing by Mountain Lakes Resort that could be seen below to our left. It looked pretty deluxe with several lakes for fishing/boating/swimming, RV sites, cabins and all sorts of ammenities. We noted the impressive fencing around the resort that appears to be designed to keep riff-raff such as ourselves from gaining access. Our Forest road went around the north side of the resort and the Apple White USFS campground, onto Lytle Canyon Rd briefly, then up dirt Sheep Canyon Rd (2N56) to the saddle between Upper and Lower Lytle Creek Ridges. This was as far as we could drive on the ridge. Lower Lytle Creek Ridge North is about 3/4mi to the southeast from this saddle. At first glance, it appears to be a brushy bushwhack along the ridge to the summit, but there is an old firebreak and a little-used social trail that makes this far easier. We took about 35min to reach the summit, open with good views. There was not enough interest among our group to visit the nearby PB-only Peak 4,306ft, so we left that untrammeled and headed back down.

Upper Lytle Creek Ridge - Peak 4,770ft

We had hoped to be able to drive Forest Road 3N31 on Upper Lytle Creek Ridge, but it was gated and locked at the saddle. We managed to open the gate after finding the chain could be removed from the post without undoing the lock, but were stopped only 1/3mi up the road by a large landslide. We would have to do the 2mi to the summit on foot after all. It's not an unpleasant hike along the road and there are various shortcuts one can take to bypass some of the long switchbacks. It was getting pretty warm by now, so we weren't appreciating the hike as much as we might have otherwise. The road continues to wind its way along the ridge, passing the highpoint on its east and north sides. There is a firebreak with a use trail going up the northwest side that we used to find our way to the summit in a little over an hour's time. At just over 5,000ft, it was the highest summit of the day and had the best views of the Baldy area to the west. I managed to pick up a tick hitchhiking on my pants, noticing it while sitting at the summit. It was the only one our group would find today. For the return, we continued southeast along the firebreak, going over PB-only Peak 4,770ft. This minor summit has the wreck of an old pick-up truck below its summit to the southeast. While the others returned to the road, TomG and I continued down the Southeast Ridge, bypassing most of the road altogether, a quicker route. After returning to the Jeeps and passing through the open gate below, we returned the chain and lock to how we'd found it, and continued down to Lytle Creek Rd.

Peak 3,620ft

This summit is found along the north side of Lytle Creek Rd between the community of Scotland and the Lytle Creek ranger station. David Comerzan provided a TR on PB that describes a trail to the summit starting from the ranger station. Though all on public lands, it feels a bit sketchy going over the ranger station's fence and through the back property to reach the water tank where the trail begins. There is some poison oak found on the way to the water tank and the first 100ft of the trail, but after that we saw none. TomB was spooked by the poison oak and turned back at the water tank. The trail is about a mile in length, quite steep in places. It was the hottest time of the day, the trail exposed to the sun, and I found myself sweating like I haven't in a very long time. The others were finding like-wise. Iris was leading the charge up the trail, and hope as I might that she'd slow or stop for a break, she did neither on our way to the top in under an hour. We found the summit has some views but is thick with brush, leaving little room to sit for a break. Half-exhausted, I completely forgot to take any pictures from the top. I'm sure the views were decent, but I remember little of them. Mostly I recall that we saw quite a few cars parked along the roadway below, with people enjoying the afternoon in the nearby creek. They looked to be having a much better time than ourselves. The return was more relaxing thanks to Newton's gravitational force, getting us back shortly before 3p.

Peak 3,900ft

We thought we were done for the day and headed to the San Bernardino Mtns where we planned to hike the next day. Our timing was poor with rush hour traffic on I-15 northbound, and it took us well over an hour to reach Silverwood Lake. While we were waiting for Iris and TomG to catch up to us at a turnout near the lake, I realized there was a nearby summit we might add to the day's totals. Peak 3,900ft overlooks the west side of Silverwood Lake, on the east side of SR138. John and Alyson Kirk had paid a visit in 2017, providing a track on LoJ that goes up the West Ridge from the highway. Their starting point was on a stretch of highway now signed for No Parking, so we used a large turnout further north. From there, we dropped down to a utility road and followed this south to join the Kirks' track. The peak appears to be horribly brushy, but there is a use trail up the West Ridge that gets one to the summit with minimal bushwhacking. Parts are overgrown, but it is far better than going without. The summit is broad and covered in much brush. There is a tall survey marker that TomG climbed to claim the highground. Views of Silverwood Lake are decent, but not as good as one might expect. We returned the same way, finishing up at 5p.

We would find a very good campsite nearby at the end of paved Cleghorn Rd and the start of Forest Road 2N49. I had thought this was a staging area for OHVs, but as it turns out, only street-legal vehicles can use the road and from what we saw over a couple of days, it doesn't get all that much traffic. A good stream, a tributary of the Mojave River, flows nearby to provide excellent opportunities to cool off. We enjoyed adult beverages and dinner roadside, whiling away the remaining hours of the afternoon with now pleasant temperatures... Continued...

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