Cucamonga and Etiwanda double feature

Peak Summited2020 Cucamonga Peak
Type of HikeDay hike
TrailheadIcehouse Canyon Trail
EncounteredWildflowers blooming, Fall foliage
Road ConditionsRoad suitable for all vehicles
Bug StatusNo bugs
Snow ConditionsSnow free
Trail ConditionsTrail in good condition
I dunno about you, but when I’m prepping for a big deal hike, I get excited, anxious and go right into research mode. Which hike? Which trailhead? What’s the elev gain? What’s the mileage? What’s the distance from home? Permits required? Extra gear? Weather? Whew! It’s a lot of planning. And then it’s THE day! You pray that you slept and hydrated enough the night before and you didn’t forget anything.
I was on the road by 4:45am and hitting the trail by 6:30am. There was enough daylight not to need my headlamp so off I went up Icehouse Canyon Trail. The creek, beautiful as ever, babbles happily along side. The Big Leaf Maples dotted the canyon, painting a gorgeous Fall landscape w a rainbow of leaf colors.
The trail was a lot busier yesterday morning than my last trip up to Ontario Peak a month or so ago. Despite a few passers by, it’s quiet. Not quite as many Stellar Jay’s or wildflowers around as the mountains prepare for winter. Still plenty of chipmunks and squirrels tho.
The 1st leg to the Icehouse Saddle went fairly quick and was a nice warmup to the Cucamonga Peak Trail for the 2nd leg. From the Saddle, the trail skirts the Eastern side of Bighorn with gorgeous vistas of the Victorville area? and then zigzags its way up and around the NE side of Cucamonga. Seeing this trail from the Ontario saddle, it’s a precarious single track scratching a line up a series of loose scree patches. There were a few sketchy lengths that were about a foot’s width across over rockslides. Not for the faint of heart. The switchbacks makes it a reasonable climb despite the elevation gain.
At the ridge, there’s an unofficial trail marker at the fork between the 2 peaks. Go straight up and you have a quick climb to Cucamonga Peak. Definitely one of the most picturesque summits I’ve seen thus far. Impressive rock outcrops and skeletal trees are scattered about the peak and make for great photo ops. With 360° panoramic views above the clouds, you’re left in awe. I could see my recent Ontario/Bighorn/Baldy summits in the distance and to the East, there’s the ~mile trek to the Etiwanda Peak.
I’m always surprised and humbled by the amount of SoCal Hikers members I find in my adventures. I met another on Cucamonga and she helped take my peak pics!! Great to meet you guys!!🙋🏻‍♀️🥳
3rd leg: Etiwanda Peak. I was beginning to fear the jaunt to Etiwanda might be similar to the nearby Ontario/Bighorn range. Ontario zigzagged you up to the peak but Bighorn was a grueling steep straight slog to the top. 🥵 But Etiwanda was a bit kinder. Back at the fork you head East along the ridge between peaks. You DO dip down a bit but the climb up wasn’t nearly as tough as Bighorn’s last stretch. Without a peak sign to pose w there still were some amazing trees at the top and a tight quartz rock outcrop w a vertical drop on the southern side overlooking the Rancho Cucamonga/San Bernardino areas.
Wow, some truly amazing landscapes. I’m lucky to experience them from these vantage points. Very humbling.
Time to head down. You think you’re getting some reprieve going down but it’s also a tough journey descending. The strain on knees and feet to control your speed over a loose, uneven, steep trail is nothing to underestimate. With tired and wobbly knees and a now shadowed trail the sketchy spots feel more sketchy and the steep gravel areas more difficult. You need to remember to refuel and stay hydrated. Fortunately it was a cool day but you still need to be concerned w the UV factor and weather that can turn.
Finally back down to the Saddle and then down to the creek, my knees, feet and hips were toast and begging for the car ride home. Despite the soreness you still feel accomplished passing the cabins and working your way through the rocky terrain before the parking lot. Flip flops never felt so good!
1 more peak to go!!! I’m coming for you💪


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