Ascent of Telegraph Peak on 2015-08-02

Climber: Joseph Esparza

Date:Sunday, August 2, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Telegraph Peak
    Elevation:8985 ft / 2738 m

Ascent Trip Report

Along the great ridge connecting the Baldy Massif to the Cucamonga-Ontario blockade stand the Three Tees: Thunder Mountain (8,587'), Telegraph Peak (8,989'), and Timber Mountain (8,303'); along with the sub-peaks of Rees Point (8,961') and Smetana Hill (8,023'). While trekking this ridgetop the hiker will encounter wonderful views of both the surrounding highlands, with the great hogback of Mount San Antonio as its crowning jewel, as well as the sprawling lowlands of both the coast and the desert on either side of the Pacific Crest, which itself can also be seen a few miles away. In the immediate surroundings are magnificent stands of both old-growth pine below 8,000', and more weathered alpine vegetation above. Surrounded by extremely popular trails of both Icehouse Canyon on one side, and the Baldy Notch and Devil's Backbone on the other, this recess of nature is relatively quiet, and even on a fair-weather summer weekend, you should find yourself with plentiful solitude on the Three Tees trail itself, within the heart of the federally designated Cucamonga Wilderness. One of the reasons this trail is much less used is the this trip requires a car shuttle, with one vehicle at the Icehouse Canyon (4,900') trailhead, and the other at the end of Baldy Road (6,200') at the trailhead to San Antonio Falls. I choose to do this trip from top to bottom, and although still a strenuous hike by anyone's standards, is less punishing than attempting it vice versa; adding 1,200' of gain to an already vigorous excursion.


Category: Strenuous
Miles: 13.5
Elevation Gain: 4000'
Location: Angeles National Forest, San Bernardino National Forest, Cucamonga Wilderness
Directions: HERE

The Hike: From the Manker Flats/Baldy Road trailhead (6,200') proceed up the Baldy Road 3.75 miles to the Baldy Notch at 7,800' (See Desert View trip in "High County" for more info on this section). From the balmy notch bustling with guests at its restaurant, ski lift platform, and new summer cabins, you continue slightly north, and follow the signs eastward towards Thunder Mountain 1.5 miles away. The route to Thunder is a 4X4 road used to maintenance and maintain the Thunder Mountain ski lifts in the winter. From the rather uninspiring summit, with views obstructed by a ski hut and its lifts, retrace you steps briefly, and you will find yourself at the junction with the Three Tees Trail at the northern entrance to the Cucamonga Wilderness.

The trail drops 500' to the Telegraph-Thunder Saddle before climbing steeply 700' to the Telergraph-Rees Saddle. From here take the 0.25 mile, but steep spur trail to the summit of Telegraph Peak, which at 8,989' holds two distinctions as both the highest 8000'er in the San Gabriel Mountains and the highest point in the Cucamonga Wilderness, beating out namesake Cucamonga Peak by a full 150'. With unobstructed views to the Cajon Pass the edge of the Great Basin, and the Pacific Crest, Telegraph stands as the climax of the trip in more ways elevation. After soaking in the grandeur seen from its summit continue back to the saddle and jaunt off trail only a few hundred yards though a lodgepole forest to Rees Point (sometimes called West Telegraph, 8,961'), and while the views are not a good as from Telegraph, the sudden drop 2000' to Icehouse Canyon is more than a sufficient consolation prize.
Back on the trail, the route switchbacks dozens of times on the southeast ridge of the Telegraph-Rees massif. To attain the next summit you take a small cross-country route, again only a couple hundred yards, to Smetana Hill (8,023) a small bump on the ridge. While boasting no grand, unhampered vistas, dwarfed by its neighbors on either side, it does provide quite a good look into Lytle Creek Canyon on its eastern flank. After the short time on top, retrace your steps back to the trail, and follow it another 200' down to the Timber-Telgraph Saddle, where after you begin the final ascent of 500' for the day to 8,303' Timber Mountain. Leaving Timber, the main trail drops down to the Icehouse Saddle, where you follow the much used Icehouse Canyon Trail (See Icehouse Saddle post in "High Country" for more information) back to your second car (or shuttle) 3.5 miles and 2,300 below. What an exhilarating, blissful, but tyring day jaunting through Creation!
Hiked 8-2-2015, San Bernardino County, Wilderness Permit Required (self-issue after the hike at the Icehouse Trailhead)
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Stream Ford

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