Monday, November 14, 2016

Postal Ridge

Hiked: 11/14/2016
Distance: 10.1 miles one way on trail and firebreak
Summit Elevation: 2301' (Peak 2301), 3011' (Peak 3011), 3426' (Peak 3426), 3800' (Bedford Peak), 3840' (Peak 3840)
Elevation Gain: 3680'
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 2.94
Round trip time: 5 hours 5 minutes
Recommended water: 116 oz.
Parking/Fees: Adventure Pass
Difficulty: Moderate

The first time I hiked Peak 2301 in the Santa Ana Mountains, I wanted to continue to Peak 3011 and up the ridge to Bedford Peak and beyond. However, the Silverado Fire closure order was in effect at the time. The closure order was lifted in September and I got a chance at "Postal" ridge (since it starts by the Silverado post office) on an unusual Monday off due to Veterans Day falling on a Friday.

The agenda was to hit peaks in this order:
  1. Peak 2301
  2. Peak 3011
  3. Peak 3426
  4. Bedford Peak (3800')
  5. Peak 3840
Since they had the day off too, Steve and Noel joined me, though Noel opted to skip the ridge and take the Silverado Trail up to the intersection with the ridge, then meet us on Peak 3426. I dropped off my car at the Maple Springs Visitor Center so we could finish there and Steve drove us down Silverado Canyon to the base of the ridge near the post office. We started up a good use trail and climbed 1100' to Peak 2301. I remembered to bring a small notebook to add to the register box, an improvement over the loose scraps of paper filling it. We took a short breather, then started down the other side to a saddle, appreciating the size of Peak 3011 looming above -- the centerpiece of the ridge. A trail led down into Ladd Canyon, but we took the firebreak leading up. It was easy to follow and most of it was just high angle class 1 dirt. There were a couple of short sections that required hands for balance and some light bushwhacking. It was a 1000' gain in less than a mile before it leveled out near the top. The summit was a pile of rocks with no signs of previous visitors or official marks. There were interesting views of Pleasants Peak and Hagador Peak. After another short break, we started toward Peak 3426, where we could see Noel pacing around, waiting for us.

Good views about half way to Peak 2301

Peak 3011 from Peak 2301

Climbing the firebreak to Peak 3011, Peak 2301 behind

Half way point on Peak 3011

Steve and I on the summit of Peak 3011

Looking up at Peak 3426

The route to Peak 3426 was slightly overgrown with harsh grasses. Easy enough to wade through while climbing another 500' dirt section. We reached 3426 and Noel joined us as we traveled under an electrical tower before hitting the junction with the Silverado Trail. We followed the single track to Main Divide Road, turning northeast to reach Bedford Peak. The benchmark was vandalized and has been missing for a while, but the register was there in an ammo box. I signed us in, then walked over to the bench on the summit. The old bench had collapsed, but a newer one dedicated to someone named "Gary" was there. It had taken us a little longer than planned to reach Bedford. Steve and Noel were ready to head back while I continued on to Peak 3480. I dropped off the east side of Bedford, then followed Main Divide another half mile before reaching the firebreak up to Peak 3480. The summit of 3480 was wide and flat. The high point was easy to spot and I found an Orange County benchmark dislodged from it's original location. It was out of the ground but embedded in cement with the anchoring pole still attached. There was no register. I had clear views of the San Gabriels, Lake Elsinore, and the San Bernardino mountains in the distance. Generally the same views you get from Bedford Peak. I looked around the summit area finding nothing else of interest, then descended back to the road. When I got to the Silverado Trail, I followed it down to my car at the Visitor Center. We didn't see anyone else the whole day. Damage from the 2014 Silverado Fire was apparent across most of the area, but that didn't diminish a fun ridge exploration.

Sidebar on the difficulty rating: I try to rate hike difficulty using the subjective Sierra Club rating system -- from Easy to Very Strenuous. With only four ratings, there are some big variations. While the regular Bedford Peak hike on the Silverado Trail is on the lower end of Moderate, this one is on the upper end. It is significantly more difficult than the regular Bedford trail.

Looking back at Peak 3011 from Peak 3426

Heading to the junction with the Silverado Trail

Bedford Peak and Peak 3840 from the Silverado Trail

Bedford Peak register

Gary's bench on Bedford Peak

Firebreak to Peak 3840

Orange County benchmark on Peak 3840

Lake Elsinore and the San Bernardino Mountains in the distance

Burn damage looking toward Modjeska


  1. Did you have two vehicles parked at two different areas??

    1. JoeL,

      Yes, I parked at the regular Silverado trailhead, then we took a second car down to the trailhead near the post office. If you only had one car, you could do an out and back from near the post office. It would add about 1.5 miles and 500' of gain doing a complete round trip.

  2. Thanks for the reply! I downloaded your GPX and will use it for the hike.

  3. hiked up bedford peak from silverado. nice hike. so close to the city, but very few people. hidden gem. thanks for the info

    1. joe schmoo,

      Cool, glad you found it useful! It's a fun way to get to Bedford. Looking at the map, the ridge seemed an obvious ascent route for more adventurous hikers.