Saturday, October 27, 2012

Big Iron Mountain #1, Bonita Peak

Hiked: 10/24/2012
Route 1 San Gabriel Mountains
Distance: 13.6 miles round trip on trail and use trail
Summit Elevation: 8007'
Prominence: 687'
Elevation Gain: 6864'
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 5.49
Round trip time: 10 hours 18 minutes
Recommended water: 224 oz.
Parking/Fees: Adventure Pass
Difficulty: Very Strenuous

This was a beast of a hike and the namesake for this blog. Iron Mountain #1 is what I mean when I talk about hiking.

To get there (Iron Mountain #1), from Interstate 210, take the Azusa Avenue (SR 39) exit and go north up San Gabriel Canyon about 12 miles to where the East Fork Bridge turns right. Cross the bridge, and continue straight on E Fork Road. When you come to Shoemaker road, stay right on E Fork Road past Camp Williams. Keep going past River Community. When the road curves sharply to the right and becomes Glendora Mountain Road, keep going straight on E Fork, down a small hill and over a wooden bridge. Continue for about a half mile to the parking lot. From the parking lot, you can get a self issued permit to carry with you. There is a gated road near the permits, that is NOT where you want to go. There is another gated dirt road at the other end of the parking lot that follows the river. Go down that road a half mile to the Heaton Flats trail head.

The "easy" part of the hike is the first 5 miles to the Allison Saddle, following a groomed trail over a roller coaster ride of 5 bumps. Along the way, you traverse over the lower peak summit of Bonita Peak. The views from Bonita are not much different than the ridge after 3042'. I didn't find a register or benchmark on Bonita. The up and down theme continues throughout, as you lose elevation then immediately make it up. The hard part comes in the last 2.5 miles when the average elevation gain per mile increases sharply (1370'/mi). Immediately after the Allison Saddle is a very steep scramble up loose dirt and rocks. Beyond that, steady, upward climbing is broken up with some plateaus and occasional dips. The yuccas were not as much of a problem as I'd read in other trip reports. With care, they can mostly be avoided. The final 800' ascent seemed very difficult, maybe because I was tired. The rock scramble just before the summit was a relief from the loose dirt. The steep descent was difficult. I slipped no less than five times, ripping holes in my shorts. I might have moved slower but I was under time pressure to get down before nightfall.

This was my first trip to use the Garmin eTrex 20 GPS with topo maps. I am still learning how to use it, and only used three features: current elevation, direction, and tracking map. The tracking map was very helpful during the descent to make sure I was coming down the same way I went up. The elevation gave me a good idea of where I was on the mountain.

San Antonio Ridge and Mt Baldy from Iron Mountain summit


  1. The route you did is called "Where Yuccas Go To Die."

    1. Al,

      Saw plenty of dead and living yucca, fortunately most of it avoidable. I was surprised to find some of it trimmed, even past Allison Saddle.