Friday, February 13, 2015

Buzzard Peak

Hiked: 2/11/2015
Distance: 3 miles round trip on trail
Summit Elevation: 1375'
Prominence: 380'
Elevation Gain: 790'
Elevation Gain (in Sears Towers): 0.63
Round trip time: 50 minutes
Recommended water: 16 oz.
Parking/Fees: Free on Grand Ave
Difficulty: Easy

Buzzard Peak is the high point of the San Jose Hills just south of I-10 in the Walnut/Diamond Bar area. It also overlooks the Kellogg campus of Cal Poly Pomona. I had attempted to hit Buzzard Peak on 2/6/2015 prior to visiting Vulture Crags (sticking with the scavenger theme), but was thwarted by private property issues from the south on E. Seton Hill.

Satellite research revealed a well defined use trail on the north side starting on Martingail Road. For my second attempt, I headed toward that trail but discovered it is in a gated and guarded subdivision. The guard directed me to a nearby horse trail that he said led to the peak. I followed the horse trail until it became a road that vanished into knee high green foliage. I continued cross country for about a mile before concluding that access was not possible this way without trespassing, so I turned around. On the way back, I remembered a possible access trail on Grand Ave and drove around to the south side to see if I could find it. I located it with a legitimate looking trail sign and parked on the opposite side of Grand, sprinting across as traffic allowed. The sign labelled it as the Schabarum trail.

Trailhead along Grand Ave in Walnut

Lots of green near the start


I didn't bother with a pack, only one water bottle and the GPS. The trail starts as a single track then widens into a dirt road, showing recent use by horses. About a half mile in, another road branches right heading up a different hill, so continue straight. The trail descends to a gully passing two unexpected tipis, then gains elevation again as it meets the west end of Buzzard Peak Road. There is a little poison oak along the sides of the trail, but it is easily avoided. The road climbs up the ridge where you get your first look at Buzzard Peak. I headed up the use trail on the south side of the peak and found a reference mark stamped "Covina" and the benchmark itself stamped "San Jose". No register. There were good views of the local mountains. Without fanfare or a break, I descended the use trail on the north side, then returned along the road. Lacking beta and surrounded by private property, this little peak turned out to be rather expensive in terms of time and miles wasted on the north side. For future hikers, I am confident this is a totally legal track. This was my first lunchbagging peak (one I could summit during a work day lunch break).

First look at Buzzard Peak

Benchmark stamped "San Jose"

Looking north to the San Gabriels

Cal Poly Pomona campus


  1. Bagged it today, Keith. Nice hike. Only one teepee is standing, the other is in ruins.

    1. Mike,

      I wonder what the back story is with those. I thought Buzzard had very good views for an urban peak.