Friday, November 28, 2014

Morton Peak, Cram Peak, Peak 4400, Peak 4030

Hiked: 11/28/2014
Distance: 8.1 miles round trip on dirt road and use trail
Summit Elevation: 4624' (Morton), 4162' (Cram), 4400' (Peak 4400), 4030' (Peak 4030)
Prominence: 724' (Morton)
Elevation Gain: 2000' (Combined)
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 1.6
Round trip time: 3 hours 45 minutes
Recommended water: 100 oz.
Parking/Fees: Adventure Pass
Difficulty: Moderate

Morton and Cram are two lower peaks in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains. I drove up on Black Friday, escaping the shopping hordes, and turned on Warm Springs Truck Road from highway 38 outside Mentone. The first gate was open, so I dropped into 4WD and continued past the gate up the truck road. It is rocky, rough, and requires high clearance, but you can save 2 miles round trip by driving up to the second gate, which is usually closed. I parked near the gate and headed up the road toward Morton. After about 1.7 miles and 700' of gain, I reached Morton Peak. There is a lookout tower there that was locked, a picnic table, and a restroom. No register was found, but I did find a reference mark and the triangulation benchmark (missing the cap), underneath the tower. Since I was just warmed up, I didn't loiter. I continued back down the road where a use trail heads down the ridge toward Cram Peak. There is a small cairn marking the spot.

Morton Peak and Cram Peak from highway 38

1st gate trailhead, unless you have a high clearance verhicle

Morton Peak Lookout Tower

Ridge line to Cram Peak

Reference mark pointing to the triangulation benchmark

Benchmark under the tower, missing the cap

The use trail was a little brushy, but never completely overgrown. It descends to a saddle where it intersects a dirt road losing the fight against nature. It quickly melts down to a single track trail with yucca encroaching on a few sections. The trail moves up and down the ridge over several bumps before winding around Cram Peak. Near the top of Cram, I ran into a deer and watched it for less than a second before it crashed into the brush on the south side of the ridge and went into hiding. The Cram summit is a round shaped flat area with an iron post and triangle marking the top. There I found the register dating back to 2004 with less than the half the book filled. This seems like another unpopular peak, mostly frequented by list chasers and peak baggers. I added a second plastic baggie to protect the register, then returned the same way. When I hit the road again, I was looking for more action. I remembered seeing Peak 4030' on the Peakbagger map, but before I got there, I decided to head off trail to hit unnamed Peak 4400' at a bend in the road. As I got to the saddle below it, I found an abandoned road winding around the north side to the summit. Nothing was on the summit other than a few small boulders and a cigarette butt, evidence that I wasn't the first person up there. Next, I headed down and quickly climbed Peak 4030, also finding nothing of interest. It was a short day of hiking, but two more Great Lower Peaks got crossed off the list.

Approaching Cram Peak

Cram Peak summit

Looking northwest from Cram Peak

Peak 4400 climb path

Looking up Mill Creek from peak 4400

Looking down on my car and 2nd gate from Peak 4030

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