Distance: 8.5 miles round trip on dirt road
Summit Elevation: 3720'
Elevation Gain: 2963'
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 2.37
Round trip time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Recommended water: 122 oz.
Parking/Fees: Free on Van Tassal Motorway
Parking just off the road across from the equestrian center is outside the national forest, so does not require an adventure pass. Mt. Bliss is a dirt road hike, and though the route itself is not inspiring, the stories of a lost DC-9 plane wreck on Mt. Bliss kept my attention in the nearby canyons. Noel and I were going to meet at 6:30 AM to take on Bliss, but due to a last minute change in my daughters Winterguard practice schedule, I had a start an hour earlier. Noel declined to join me at such an ungodly time and said he would meet me on the trail. I ended up starting at 5:10 AM. We met as I was descending at around 3000' and he was approaching the summit.
It was very dark at the start and I unpacked the lights to get going. This is entirely a road hike, except for a short bit of firebreak at the end. The road was well graded and in good shape. No potholes or skull sized rocks to break your stride. There was a lot of heavy construction equipment lining the road, part of some active project. The gain started immediately and there were maybe two places where it leveled out for a while before continuing up.
Views along the way and from the top were better than I expected. The summit is smallish and had been bulldozed as part of the wide firebreak. The register was in a plastic coke bottle that had been cut in half. The remains of the original red cans were nearby. I signed the register, which was nearly full, and got a chuckle at Bob Burd's entry complaining of "damn flies". I had covered myself with bug spray before starting up so they weren't much a problem for me, but future hikers take note. The benchmark was placed by the Metropolitan Water District and was stamped simply "Peak". On the way down, I passed 11 work trucks driving up. They were all courteous, slowed down, and waved when they caught sight of me. It was a nice conditioning hike. I can see why this would be tough in the heat of summer being fully exposed to the sun on the south facing road. I was done before the day had a chance to heat up. Although I stopped frequently to gaze into the canyons, I saw no traces of any plane wreckage. It felt odd to be done with a hike at 8:40 AM. I even hit the morning rush hour traffic returning home, but had plenty of time to take my daughter to Winterguard practice.