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DesertMud - Hiking, Mountain Biking, Pine Trees, Southern California
Hiking Mountain Biking Pine Trees Jul 7, 2022
Special Instructions
Wilderness Permit Req'd
Lytle Creek Ranger Station
1209 Lytle Creek Road
Lytle Creek, CA 92358
(909) 887-2576
NF Adventure Pass Req'd

Related Hikes (5)
Cucamonga Peak Ridge from San Sevaine Flats
Cucamonga Peak via Middle Fork Trail
Timber Mountain via Middle Fork Trail
South Fork Lytle Creek Rock hopping to 4 pristine waterfalls
Middle Fork Lytle Creek Falls Little known waterfall

DeparmentofGoods - Outdoor Gear Without the Gouge

You are here: Home : Hiking Last Updated on 07/28/2001    
Diff: Rating 8/10
Scenic: Rating 9/10
Tech: Rating 3/10
Cucamonga Peak
         via Middle Fork Trail
Location: San Gabriel Mountains, San Bernardino National Forest, Southern California
Region: Lytle Creek Region
Wilderness: Cucamonga Wilderness
Total Distance: 16 Mi
Elevation Gain: 5,100 Ft
Season: April-Nov
Type: Out & Back
Start Elev: 4,000 Ft
Peak Elev: 8,859 Ft
Total Time: 6 hr
Time In: 3.3 hr
Time Out: 2.6 hr

Peak List Peak List
Peak Name Elevation
Cucamonga Peak 8,859 Ft

Hike added by
on 07/28/2001
Driving Directions
Take I-15 & exit Sierra. Make a right onto Lytle Creek Rd and go up into Lytle Creek. Pay no attention to what you are doing until the speed limit lowers to 25 mph, then you will begin to enter the residential part of Lytle Creek. Be looking to your left for Middle Fork Road, make a left here. Drive over a small narrow bridge on Middle Fork Rd and continue. The road will soon turn into dirt. It is about 3 miles further on a farily bumpy road to its end at the trailhead/parking area. Stay out of the many forks into the canyon below & you will end up at the parking lot.
Hike up middle fork trail. After a little ways there will be a sign and the trail will split. Take either fork because they will meet up in about 3/4 mile or so. I like the Stone House fork, it goes down to the creek and is shadier/cooler/more gnats. The other fork - Three Streams - is more direct and easier to follow, but the ferns & lushness of the Stone House is worth it. What I do is take Stone House on the way in and Three Streams on the way out. A short distance after the trails rejoin, there is a large Cucamonga Wilderness sign. Continue on the trail to the Icehouse Saddle at 5.5 miles. Actually it is not necessary to go to the actual saddle area with the signs and stuff, but it is only about a 100ft walk or so. The trail to Cucamonga Peak meets up with the Middle Fork Trail about 100ft or so before you reach the Saddle area. Take this trail with a sharp turn to the left. Continue 2.5 miles further to Cucamonga Peak.
Jerry who lives in Phelan calls me up at about 3pm on this day and says "you want to do something?" So were there on the phone trying to decide between hiking to a cliff-jumping area at Warm Springs on Deep Creek that this guy I saw in Walmart told me about, Cucamonga peak, or the mall to look for chicks. Deep creek didn't sound to good after thinking about it a little, it was too hot and I've been out there too many times. So we dedided to go up Cucamonga on Middle Fork & then go look for chicks after. I said I'd be at his place at 3:50 pm, but I got there at 4:10 pm. From there it was about an hour drive - Sheep Creek Rd to Hwy 138 to Lone Pine Canyon Rd to Swarthout Canyon Rd to Sheep Canyon Rd to Lytle Creek Rd to Middle Fork Rd & then we parked. Started hiking at 5:10 pm. Within the first half mile on the trail we passed about 6 people who were heading down - a good day of hiking for all them I presume. Our day was just beginning. There were people camping at Stone House as usual. There were these worm-looking-things (look like a worm but ahuh huh I don't really know for sure) covering some rocks in this one area. A tree had fallen over the old fallen-tree crossing at the 2nd stream crossing down on the Stone House trail. About a mile or so further up the trail beyond where the 2 trail rejoin we passed two chicks - I think we freaked them out though. About a mile after that, we saw 3 backpackers (a white chick and 2 asian guys) with camp already set up. The said "are you guys going all the way to the saddle?" We're like uh, the saddle, no, Cucamonga Peak. So when we neared the Saddle, we saw 3 more asians camping just below the saddle burning this completely unsafe campfire in weather where a fire was a the last thing one would need. I mean it was hot out there. They were burning this fire under a large tree next to some shrubs on top of a thick layer of pine needles and dead wood. This was just a plain idiotic place to have an unnecessary fire going during a time of year when fires are popping up all over the San Gabriels. After the Saddle, the trail is very mellow at first (somewhere along here there are two stacked caves on the right side of the trail - the lower one goes maybe 20ft back and the the upper one - maybe 15ft above the lower one - is shallower) and then decends maybe a few hundred feet over 2 spearate spans, wraps around a canyon and then begins to climb up Cucamonga Peak. The trail basically just kind of switchbacks up to the peak. There was a group of backpackers at the peak with another fire going. It was quite a bit cooler at the peak. I had a soaking-wet t-shirt on and got cold after a few minutes up there, it was also a little windy. We stayed up there for 30 min, signed in and had dinner - graham crackers with oats & ritz crackers with water. Dinner tasted real good, especailly the ghram crackers & oats together. It was now pretty dark. We could see all the city lights below. At one point I was looking at the lights and there was a power outage over this large area & it went completely black & remained black as long as we were up there. A few minutes after that power outage, a large area surrounding it flickerd, but the lights remained on. We didn't really care what time we left the peak except our band had planned to record the next day & we wanted to get an early start, so we headed down. There was a little more than a half-moon & it provided pleanty of light on the exposed sections. Within a mile or so of decending, we saw a GLOWWORM for the second time in our lives. These worms are a dull red color, about an inch long and have a tip that glow neon green very brightly - like an LED light. Jerry reports that "the females only glow before they lay there eggs to attract a male and the males fly around and after she lays the eggs she dies." Continuing on down the trail, tripping and stumbling here and there, running full speed at uh the same time we were back at the saddle. The 3 asian's fire was still going & I don't know if they were scared to be out there by themselves or what it was but they heard us coming and started shining their many flashlights down the slope, then they heard a little better and blasted us in the face with there lights after we had been hiking in the dark for the last hour or so & that did not feel good. A quick flash, ok, but these paranoid idiots flashed us a 2nd time and held the lights on us. Whatever fear they had of us by holding the lights on us in the first place was about to come true. Yeah we were pissed; it is very difficult to see anyting after you've just been blinded by 3 mag lights at once when all you're trying to do is find your way in the dark. Like their fire ain't enough for them. Yeah I was already pissed at them for this unsafe fire, so we were both about ready to let 'em have it. We settled with a few words but I still couldn't see where in the h*ll I was walking. So we keep on going and pass up the other 3 backpackers who asked if we were going to the saddle. They seemed like they got weirded out over the few hours since we had initially seen them - playing with their flashlights & dirt or something. When we got into the depths of the canyon somewhere near the cutoff to the waterfalls, there was nearly a cave-like darkness. After running myself off the trail, falling off a 3ft ledge, banging my knees into numerous rocks & eating dirt a few times I decided to get out my headlamp. Then we took off running once again & took the Three Streams fork & eventually were back at the truck. Not really tired, worn, or weak, all we wanted to do is be back at the top. The hike really didn't seem long or tiring or anything, it was just really nice being out there. We passed some "night weirdos of Lytle Creek" took the freeway back to Hwy 138 to see if it was any faster. It took about the same amount of time as it does taking the backroads, so from now on it's backroads for me, all the time. I ran out of water about a mile from the truck, I started with just under 100 ounces. I was hot the entire hike except sitting on the peak. We stopped at the AM/PM at the Sierra exit of I-15 & picked up some candy & a 2 liter bottle of spit, I mean sprite, for myself. I got home at 1:10 am on July 29, 2001. Overall, it was awesome to be out here and possibly even more awesome to be out here at the time we were. The first part of the trail which is very exposed in the morning, was shady, but still hot. It was a great view of the lights, although that really ain't my thing. The glowworm was awesome. In one area just below the Icehouse Saddle, the Jeffery pine scent was very stong, that was nice.
Trail Condition
The trail is very good everywhere except for some of the slide areas where it is narrow and slippery, but these are very small in comparison to the rest of the hike.
Forest Details
The forest out here is awesome, what more can I say. The trail follows along the creek for quite a distance, that is nice. The first part of the trail is kind of desert-like, yuccas & scrub & some manzanita. Most of the pine trees are Jeffery and Sugar. Big cone douglass fir is abundant. Lodgepole pine higher up... blah, blah, blah... There was a lot of forest destruction in the canyons from the heavy snow this past winter, tree debris everywhere, though not neary as bad as we saw in Coldwater Canyon a few weeks earlier.
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