Friday, June 14, 2013

Sierra Peak

Hiked: 6/14/2013
Distance: 12.7 miles round trip on bike trail, dirt road, and firebreaks
Summit Elevation: 3045'
Prominence: 355'
Elevation Gain: 2600'
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 2.08
Round trip time: 5 hours 15 minutes
Recommended water: 128 oz.
Parking/Fees: Free to park on Green River Road
Difficulty: Moderate

Sierra Peak is the northern most peak in the Santa Ana Mountains and looms large over Highway 91, one of the busiest connecting Orange County and Riverside County. This was the final peak I needed to complete all 13 Sierra Club listed peaks in the Santa Ana Mountains.

To get to the parking area, take the 91 east toward Riverside, exit on Green River Road, turn left and loop around until you are going west on Green River Road. Follow the road to a dirt parking area on the right before the construction site. Park, then continue walking west along a paved bike path with the 91 on your left and the Santa Ana River on your right. After about a 1.4 miles, turn left and go under the 91.

Crossing under the 91 freeway

The trail splits into the Coal Canyon trail to the right and the Pipeline trail to the left. Noel and I followed the more direct Pipeline trail up and returned on the longer, but gentler, Coal Canyon trail. The Pipeline starts off as a wide dirt road that gains elevation moderately at first. There are a couple of sections in the last half of the trail where it turns into firebreaks that are steep and have loose dirt. Trekking pole(s) recommended. The Coal Canyon trail is 1.75 miles longer but is a smoothly graded road with milder inclines.

Noel was not a big fan of the firebreak

Horned lizard is at home on the firebreak

Once we got over the last firebreak, Sierra Peak finally came into view. There were two benchmarks on the summit and a crushed register can that appears to have been run over. We couldn't find a register. The views into Riverside County were great, and all the local big mountains were clear, despite some smog and lingering June gloom clouds.

Sierra benchmark, original placed 1928, replaced 1973

A poorly executed crow pose

On the way down, I spotted an interesting rock formation at the intersection of Leonard Road and Coal Canyon. There were also some great views into the Santa Ana back country. The GPS said there was a clay mine some distance off trail, but we didn't have time to investigate. Maybe on another trip, I can explore the canyon itself and the mine.

Rocks to explore on another trip

Very poisonous datura wrightii

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