Saturday, November 22, 2014

Arrowhead Peak

Hiked: 11/22/2014
Distance: 4.8 miles round trip on use trail and cross country
Summit Elevation: 4237'
Prominence: 357'
Elevation Gain: 2470'
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 1.97
Round trip time: 4 hours
Recommended water: 72 oz.
Parking/Fees: Adventure Pass on highway 18 turnout (San Bernardino National Forest)
Difficulty: Moderate

I parked off the Rim of the World highway (hwy 18) a short distance from Crestline and Lake Arrowhead. The mountain sports a granitic structure on the south face that looks like a purposely engineered arrowhead, but is in fact natural, perhaps inspiring the name for the lake and village. Arrowhead Peak is #24 on the Lower Peaks list and the official guide mentions the poor condition of the unmaintained trail. Multiple trip reports cite Arrowhead as the most difficult bushwhack of the Lower Peaks, maybe all Sierra Club peaks that allegedly have a trail. Nature has reclaimed most of the old Jeep trail descending from the north. I came armored and recommend long pants, gaiters, long sleeved base, long sleeved jacket, and heavy gloves. Navigation was difficult and requires finding your way through a hedge maze of spiky buckthorn and chaparral. Fortunately, I didn't notice any poison oak. I found a useful GPX track on uploaded by Patrick O'Neill. Thanks, Patrick. A trip report from January, 2014 suggested the party did some trimming and I noticed signs of it in several places. Thanks, Pat Wells and Sierra Club members on that trip. I performed some grooming of my own via machete and left the trail in slightly better shape than I found it. I took the shortcut down to the first saddle that cuts off the longest switchback, then followed the trail around the west side of bump 4422.

The giant granite arrowhead on the south face of Arrowhead Peak.
The summit is out of view to the left.

Arrowhead Peak (far summit) from the turnout on hwy 18

Into the brush, trail goes straight into the buckthorn

The lower part of hwy 18 from the first saddle

A couple of places required crawling

Descending down to the second saddle

Brush gets lighter from here to the summit

Approaching the summit, clear path on the left (east)

From the bottom of the second saddle, I went up the firebreak, veered left (east) and found a pretty clear path through the manzanita surrounding the summit. This deviates from the LPC guide. About 30' from the summit rock pile, the use trail takes a sharp right. To find the triangulation benchmark, take a sharp left at that point and go about 20'. I cleared some of the encroaching brush around the benchmark. The register is in the rock pile. It is a small book that goes back to 2002 and remains only half full. The previous visitor to Arrowhead Peak was 9 months ago in February, 2014. This is a very wild and lonely peak. I found the entries from Patrick O'Neill and Bob Burd. Conspicuously missing from the register was Mars Bonfire. Such a lonely peak. The single baggie protecting the register had a hole in it, so I wrapped it in a second baggie. I highly recommend going on a clear day because the views in all directions were beautiful. To the west are the San Gabriels, to the south, the Santa Anas, and to the east, the San Bernardinos and San Jacinto. I lingered longer than usual enjoying the views. Sadly, Arrowhead Lake is not visible from the summit or anywhere along the trail.

The way back gave me more navigational problems than the way out. I got off track on top of bump 4422 and ended up finding a direct way down the ridge to the trail. That ridge path was not apparent on the way up. When I got back to the first saddle, I followed the switchback instead of going up the shortcut and got stuck off trail after continuing past the turn. Unless you just want to explore, the shortcut is easier and more direct. There is a lot of trash just below the turnout, including a tube TV and discarded tire. The route finding problems and bushwhack were great fun. The only negative was that I came back with two ticks. I got them before they made a meal out of me. November through January are probably the best months to climb Arrowhead Peak. Spring and summer probably dish out more ticks, flying insects, thicker buckthorn, and heat.

Arrowhead Peak summit rock pile

San Gabriel mountains to the west

Harrison Mountain (front), San Bernardino Mountains (left), and San Jacinto (distant right)

Saddleback and Santa Ana mountains to the south

Arrowhead benchmark, about 50' away from the summit rock pile

Register, last visitor was 9 months ago. Lonely, wild peak.

TV thrown from the turnout

Discarded tire thrown from the turnout

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