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Ascent of Smith Mountain on 2018-10-24

Climber: Vic Hanson

Date:Wednesday, October 24, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Smith Mountain
    Location:USA-California
    Elevation:5111 ft / 1557 m

Ascent Trip Report

I started hiking from the West Fork San Gabriel River Parking lot, taking the paved bike route east to the bridge at the 1 mile post. There you need to cross the bridge and then go left under the bridge on the Bear Creek Trail, following the creek north. The trail crosses the creek many times, no problem most of the year but in the Spring some of the crossings can be dangerous. The trail is good, and easy to follow through the second campsite. Aways after that it starts to get harder in places, especially at the creek crossings, but also in some of the rock and boulder areas. Most places there are cairns, or sometimes ribbons, to mark the route but sometimes there are 2 options. The trail itself is usually visible but not always, especially in the rocky areas and stream crossings. Basically you just need to follow the creek but sometimes the trail goes high to one side or the other to avoid deep water when the creek is high. Most of those times there is lots of poison oak! At one point there is a small canyon and creek going off to the left, make sure to stay to the right. This time there were some places where the creek was dry, at least on the surface. It seems to flow underground sometimes because it always reappears a little farther upstream. The turnoff to leave the stream and climb up out of the canyon can be a little hard to see. There is a marked trail going to the right shortly before that which goes to what used to be the Upper Trail Camp but there is only a fire ring in a small clearing there now. I continued beyond the trail looking for a deep pool in the creek, which is where I turned around. The trail up out of the canyon is just past a large boulder with a large cairn on top, both on the right (east) side of the trail. It is in very poor condition, first with washouts and slides, and then overgrown. There is one section that is wide and clear in between. At the saddle is where the Smith Mtn. trail goes up to the south. It goes up a wide path, steep but with some zigzags, and higher up turns into a meandering path through the bushes. When you reach what looked like the top, the true summit becomes visible farther up. Here the trail turns into a rocky scramble through the bushes. It's harder, but not really that difficult, I think it seemed harder just because it was such a surprise. I was also surprised to see another person on top, the first one I had seen all day. We talked as we walked down to the saddle together, and then I ran down the rest of the Bear Creek Trail, which is in very good condition, and also ran down Hwy. 39 back to my vehicle. Total distance was just under 20 miles.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3801 ft / 1158 m
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack, Stream Ford, Scramble
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:3801 ft / 1158 m
    Distance:19.5 mi / 31.4 km
    Start Trailhead:1310 ft / 399 m
Descent Statistics



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