Ontario – > Cucamonga (and Big Horn Peak because why not)

Peak Summited2021 Ontario Peak
Type of HikeDay hike
TrailheadIce House
Hiking CompanionsHiked with a partner
Road ConditionsRoad suitable for all vehicles
Bug StatusNo bugs
Snow ConditionsSnow free
Trail ConditionsTrail in good condition

I joined the challenge late and with holidays was pressed for time, so I figured I would just do both in one day. These two mark the end of my Six Pack of Peaks challenge, something I'm pretty proud of myself for considering I was a fat sedentary person before this year. I completed this hike with a friend who is very familiar with the San Gabriel Mountains since he grew up in Claremont and I was happy for the company. We got an early start at ~6 AM and hit the trail right away so we could make it back at a reasonable hour. Moving at a quick pace, we headed straight up Ice House trail with minimal stops until a longer break at Ice House Saddle. From there, we travelled west to Ontario Peak first. I should say my friend is a geologist and completed his thesis here in the San Gabriels, so I got plenty of knowledge on the rock formations on the way! It was a great day out, with tons of shade on the trail and very few people after the saddle (The trail to the saddle was pretty busy, in fact if we arrived to the parking lot a few minutes later we wouldn't have gotten a parking spot!) The cold weather helped speed us along, and in no time we were at Ontario Peak. There was significant cloud layer at lower elevations, and so the view from Ontario was epic. Baldy and the three T's to out north, countless mountains piercing the clouds to our west! There was only a couple of others up there at the time which made for a peaceful experience. I actually really enjoyed Ontario and the entire route up to it, glad we started with this one! We lingered for a little bit, signed the summit book and took the obligatory pictures of course and then got moving on to Cucamonga. The route we decided on had us go up to the top of Big Horn Peak and then down the other side to the start of the Cucamonga switchbacks. The trail up to Big Horn was steeper than I anticipated! Happy we did this route to bag a lesser peak and save time, but it did take some of my energy reserves up. There were a lot of people at the top of Big Horn, some who had a whole lunch spread with chairs and mini tables. The path down to the switchbacks definitely exists, but I will caution that it's “the road less travelled”, so there were some dicey parts and I had to keep a close eye on the map to make sure we were on the right trail. I don't shy away from rapid elevation gain, but when I got there and looked up at Cucamonga and the switchbacks I definitely had a moment of self doubt for some reason. It was quite steep after what we had already done! As they say, slow and steady wins the race and so in taking my time I was able to make it to the top with no problems. I think this peak had better views than Ontario for the sole reason that from here I could see out to San Gorgonio and the desert with no obstruction. It was sunny and a touch warm at this time, a perfect way to celebrate on my final peak! I felt pretty good at the top, and even spent some time watching a fellow hiker fly his DJI Mini 2 drone (which I know is epic because I have one too). I also had my only wildlife sighting here: a chipmunk hanging out at the very top!  Got the photos and started a quick hike/jog down the mountain. Once I reached Ice House Saddle, I spent about 80% of the rest of the hike jogging down for more of a workout and to get back to the car since it was getting later than anticipated. The way down was just as great, offering views of Baldy most of the way! When I got back to the car I was relieved, we did a lot of miles/elevation today! Super happy to have completed the challenge, looking forward to the San Diego Six Pack of Peaks challenge in 2022, see you all then!


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