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    Member Since April 2019

    Bryan Eisenbise Pro-red@3x

    Rancho Santa Margarita, California 

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    Bryan Eisenbise reviewed Icehouse Canyon to Cucamonga Peak Trail

    4 months ago

    I went up Friday and spent the night up on the peak. I am ridiculously out of shape and figured if I gave myself all afternoon to get to the peak, I could head back the next day and rest the remainder of the weekend. Well, I did it and I am happy I did. So keep in mind the following observations are coming from someone who probably shouldn't have done the hike.

    The first mile in from the trail head is gorgeous. Icehouse Canyon is spectacular. Water was flowing plentifully down the main creek, and at times across the trail into the creek. Plenty of shade and relatively flat. The one thing I wasn't expecting was how uneven the trail would be in the bottom of the canyon. I went with trail runners (Altras), and right away I wish I had boots.

    At about 1.8 miles you have to pay the piper and start climbing out of the canyon. These are long, gradual switchbacks with take you from the canyon floor up to Icehouse Saddle. Although it seems access to the creek is behind you, there is a clearly visible spring at the switchback at 2.25 miles. There is another final opportunity for water at about 2.5 miles. You can't miss either.

    I brought spikes and an ice axe because it had snowed Wednesday and I didn't know what to expect. Although there was a little bit of snow before the Icehouse Saddle, I never really needed spikes at this point.

    Once at the saddle it was pretty flat and quite a nice break from the switchbacks out of the canyon as you went around Bighorn Peak. My problem is that it started to get a little dark here and the trail is not as clearly marked as it could be. Sure anyone can find where it goes and switches back, but it is not like a traditionally well-maintained single-track. Only once did I miss a switchback, but I certainly should have had a headlamp on by then.

    At about 4.3 miles you arrive at another saddle. It is gorgeous here and you can see the Antelope Valley to the East as well as LA to the West. After this point it is straight up the side of the mountain to the peak. I am out of shape, so it was ridiculously brutal for me, but I can agree with those who say it is a little over-exaggerated. Fitness aside, I ran into a couple difficulties I think it would be smart for all to consider: First, I did this in the dark with a headlamp, and it was very difficult. I do have quite a bit of experience in the outdoors and especially night hiking, but this was certainly a challenge. A lot of people have created ad hoc paths cutting the switchbacks so I was constantly checking my GPS making sure I didn't end up off into the bushes. I think with some familiarity it would have been easier, but doing this for the first time in the dark was brutal. Second, there was still some snow, which added some anxiety to the situation. I was only wearing trail runners, so spikes were an absolute must from a safety perspective. There was perhaps combined 50 yards of snow on the trail which needed traversing, and the spikes saved me here. I would imagine that it is all melted or slush by now.

    I summited late into the night and the view was gorgeous. City lights as far as I could see. I set up my hammock and had a decent night's sleep. The next morning I was brutally sore and was thinking only of getting a jump on things and hitting the trail. I didn't take in any views that morning, nor did I have the energy to hike up to pride rock (I was down on the other side where there were more trees for my hammock). I packed up and was on the trail by 6am.

    The hike back was beautiful and I wish I would have done the hike up during the day as it certainly would have been much more enjoyable. It was Saturday morning on Memorial Day Weekend when I hiked down and I could not believe the crowds...especially once I got back into the canyon. A ridiculous number of people.

    Overall amazing hike--a well-deserved 5-star rating. The path to get to the peak provided adventurous cross-country feeling (out of a canyon, around a mountain, and up a peak). Very challenging, but doable. If you can go during the week, it seems like it would be definitely worth it. I would recommend bringing spikes if there is even a slight chance of snow on the trail...just to be safe. I am writing this on Tuesday morning and all of the soreness is gone. I will DEFINITELY do this hike again soon. I am looking forward to 1) doing it in the warmer months, 2) doing it during the day, and 3) doing it after training a bit more.