Friday, April 11, 2014

Mt. Bliss

Hiked: 4/11/2014
Distance: 8.5 miles round trip on dirt road
Summit Elevation: 3720'
Prominence: 520'
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
Difficulty: Moderate

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.

Early bird gets the caterpillar

Dawn on Van Tassal Motorway


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.

Approaching Mt. Bliss

Mt. Bliss benchmark stamped "Peak"

Rankin Peak and Monrovia Peak

Mt. Wilson ridgeline

Bob Burd's lament


  1. Good to see you on the trail this morning! On my way down the workers were hard at work building the Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project - the section from Duarte to Acton. Very impressive. They keep the road in excellent shape.

    1. Yeah, you looked like you had a good pace going. Thanks for letting me know what they were doing. The road was very smooth as dirt roads go.