Distance: 3.7 miles round trip on trail and cross country
Summit Elevation: 2704'
Elevation Gain: 1133'
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 0.90
Round trip time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Recommended water: 60 oz.
Parking/Fees: $10 State Parks
Not to be confused with the Sierra 14er with the same name, this Mt. Russell is on the Sierra Club Lower Peaks List at the north end of Lake Perris State Park. The lake itself is a large reservoir and recreation area surrounded by hills with a small island in the middle. There are also horse facilities. I arrived around 9:00 AM and it was already 85F. I parked in the horse staging area at the north end of the park. This is also a quail hunting area (shotguns only), and I hoped not be mistaken for a bird. Turns out, I didn't hear one shotgun blast on the trip and saw no hunters, but I did see lots of spent shells. It was probably too hot for the hunters.
Despite being next to a lake, this is a desert hike. It was dry and dusty from the start. There were also plenty of bugs. Spray up before heading up. Mt. Russell loomed behind other hills at the far end of a canyon. Only the first half mile or so of the hike is on a trail, then you veer into the canyon filled with scrub and boulders. There are faint use trails on both sides of the canyon. I stayed to the right and sometimes wandered too far up the canyon wall, making corrections when I saw the use trail below. At the end of the canyon, I went up the left side of Mt. Russell with no trail, which was the wrong choice. This path led me up the steep slope while bushwhacking and boulder scrambling. When I got to the top, I spotted a faint use trail on the right side that bypassed the boulders. That was my descent path. With the heat wave, the whole area felt "snakey", but I didn't see any snakes. Plenty of big lizards and ground squirrels, though. There is enough brush on the route that long pants were justified, even in the hottest weather.
The summit has a large wooden cross on it, cemented to the rocks, with a light aimed at it. There was also a metal pole, but I didn't find a register. The views of Lake Perris and the surrounding larger ranges were very nice. I took some photos and rested a bit on the summit. I followed the more pleasant path down and when I got back to my car, it was 100F. Ah, nothing like Perris in the spring. I had time for my bonus peak, so I drove toward the south end of the park in search of Armada BM.
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