Saturday, March 8, 2014

McKinley Mountain

Hiked: 3/7/2014
Distance: 3 miles round trip on use trail
Summit Elevation: 3795'
Prominence: 735'
Elevation Gain: 1645'
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 1.31
Round trip time: 2 hours
Recommended water: 52 oz.
Parking/Fees: Adventure Pass
Difficulty: Moderate

On the way back from Bertha Peak, we stopped along highway 330 to climb McKinley Mountain. It is on the lower peaks list and shares the same name as the monster Mount McKinley in Alaska. There is also a Mount McKinley in the Angeles National Forest. A very popular name for mountains. McKinley Mountain is one of the two guardians of highway 330 as it enters the San Bernardino National Forest, the other one directly across from it is Harrison Mountain. While the distance is short, the gain is significant, and it deserved something other than an easy rating. McKinley is not a family friendly hike. Soon after we started climbing up the firebreak, I had to stop and tape my left heel. I was breaking in some new winter boots on Bertha and bought a half size too big to easily accommodate multiple layers of socks. Now I was second guessing that decision. Before the day was over, I would end up taping both heels.

The hike is broken into two steep ridges. The first ridge gets you to an overgrown fire road that cuts left and offers the only break in the "up" action. At the end of the short fire road, the use trail cuts right then up the second steep ridge. At the top of the second ridge is a flat, grassy area that leads to the summit pole marker and register. Expansive views of the Inland Empire suddenly appear at the top. Wind gusts started to hit us as we neared the summit, and it got a little brushy just before breaking into the grassy area. Rod and I signed the register after chasing down some of the loose pages that blew away in the wind. We took some photos, ate our final snacks, then headed home.

Start of the use trail from highway 330

Looking back on the highway, part way up the first ridge

Rod starting up the second ridge

Nearing the top

Summit pole marker

Harrison Mountain from McKinley summit, the other guardian of highway 330

San Gabriel Mountains from McKinley summit


  1. i was there the day after you. fun hike. saw some mule deer.

    1. Philip,

      Glad you had a good trip. It's always a bonus to see wildlife.

  2. I know this was a long time ago but do you happen to know where the trail head sits?

    1. A Step at a Time,

      Here is a Google Map link that will get you very close to the turnout. The turnout is on the west side of the road (left side as you are going up highway 330).