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
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:
- Peak 2301
- Peak 3011
- Peak 3426
- Bedford Peak (3800')
- Peak 3840
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.