Red Buttes East
Peak 3,996ft P500
Sunday BM P300
Nash Hill P300
Resurrection Hill
Deadman Point
Peak 4,088ft P300
Pitzer Buttes

Tue, Dec 1, 2020
Etymology
Red Buttes East
Sunday BM
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 4 5 6 GPX

At the start of a six-day roadtrip to Joshua Tree, I spent the first day visiting summits on the west side of San Bernardino County, around the El Mirage OHV area. The OHV area is huge, with many, many trails and a $15 access fee for the day, managed by the BLM. There is only one entrance, found on the south side near the community of El Mirage, though I knew none of this beforehand. In fact, only one of the peaks is within the OHV area, and can be accessed by foot from outside to save the entrance fee. The last three summits are found in the Lucerne Valley area along SR18. None of the hikes were hard, the longest about a mile each way, most of them about a 1/4mi. I used all the available daylight before driving east on SR247 to the Johnson Valley area where Karl would meet me later in the evening.

Red Buttes East

I had been to Red Buttes West, the higher of the two summits seven years earlier, today I was coming back for the lower eastern summit with little prominence. I'd slept the night off US395, rising in the morning after 7a to start my day. High-clearance vehicles can drive to the site of an old homestead at the base of the two summits. Otherwise there's another 1/2mi hike from the good dirt access road. The abandoned and abused house that was here on my previous visit has been mostly removed, though the area is still pretty trashed with broken glass and ammo casings littering the grounds. The hike to the east summit is short and easy. Both summits can be done together in less than an hour's time.

Peak 3,996ft

The Shadow Mtns are a small range about 8mi south of Red Buttes. I drove back out to US395, then used the good dirt Shadow Mtn Rd to access Peak 3,996ft south of Silver Peak. Barbara Lilley had visited this summit with Laura Newman only nine days earlier, and it was this that had enticed me out to the area. I had visited the higher summits of the Shadow Mtns in 2011, and others in 2016, but had missed four others in the area, starting with this one. I followed a rougher dirt road south from Shadow Mtn Rd, following the boundary fenceline of the OHV area to the base of Peak 3,996ft on the north side of the mountain. Though the hike is short, it is somewhat steep - I was quite impressed that Barbara managed it at 91yrs of age. Richard Carey had left a register here in 2018 with Jeff Moffat visiting in 2019. The southern of two points (where the register was found) appears to be the highest point.

Sunday BM

This one is about 7.5mi northwest of Peak 3,996ft. Good dirt roads get you most of the way. A rougher road goes to the saddle with Pt. 3,268ft, making for a short hike following a motorcycle track from the east. I didn't find the benchmark, nor a register. There is another point a short distance north that appears to be 5-6ft higher than the benchmark location. No register there either.

Nash Hill

Seven miles further south is Nash Hill. My parking spot on the northeast side of the hill is a messy shooting area with tons of bullet-ridden items including the shells of two automobiles, one that was somehow left impaled on a boulder. The hike has some modestly fun scrambling. Someone rode a motorcycle up much of the route, an impressive feat.

Resurrection Hill

This is the only peak found inside the OHV area. It would have been inconvenient to find the entrance road and then backtrack to the hill's location on the west side of the area. Instead, I parked outside the boundary fence and walked the mile distance to the small, rounded summit. There are at least four roads leading to the summit, so for $15 you can have the privilege of making it a drive-up. High-clearance and possibly 4WD needed for the ascent. Not far west of where I parked a landowner was busy building a eight-foot dirt wall around his 100-acre property, presumably to keep out prying eyes. Desert folks are interesting.

Deadman Point

This small point is found at the junction of SR18 and Bear Valley Cutoff Rd, southeast of Apple Valley. Though exceedingly short, it is a class 3 scramble on some impressive rocks to reach the summit. There are multiple ways to get to the top, including a tight squeeze tunnel that I used on the way down. The area is littered with bear cans and other trash. Efforts have been made to paint over some of the graffiti at this popular party spot. I liked the scrambling on this one.

Peak 4,088ft

This one is found about 4.5mi east of Deadman Point, high in the Granite Mtns. Access is via powerline roads off SR18 around Fifteenmile Point, getting one about a mile from the summit, starting from the southeast, north of dry Rabbit Lake. I found some decent scrambling on this one, the hardest of the day, taking about an hour roundtrip. I left a register at the summit, returning shortly before sunset.

Pitzer Buttes

This last summit is found a few miles south of SR18 at Lucerne Valley. The sun had set about 15min before I parked, but it was a short hike of less than 1/5mi each way. I was treated to the lights of scattered Lucerne Valley residents from the summit, looking west and east. A few dogs barked up at me from their homes on the east side, though the lighting was too weak for me to see them. After returning to the jeep, I took a quick shower before it was completely dark. I then spent about 45min driving further southeast along SR247 before finding a quiet spot to spend the night on the north side of the highway. I sent the coordinates to Karl who was planning to meet me to hike in the area the next day. A fun day...

Continued...


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