Ascent of Mount Russell on 2017-03-20

Climber: Joseph Esparza

Date:Monday, March 20, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Russell
    Elevation:2704 ft / 824 m

Ascent Trip Report

Mount Russell, the 2,704' high-point of 8,800 acre Lake Perris State Recreation Area, boasts not only pleasant views of the surrounding area and lake, but offers an exemplary solitary experience through Riversidian Sage Scrub second to none in the area. Chances are no matter what time of year, you will have the summit and Russell Mountains all to yourself, with only a Red-Shouldered hawk above, the various species of reptiles below, and the elements of the natural world around to keep you company. No maintained trail penetrates these high and wild sections of the park, and although there is a faint-to-non-existent use trail to the summit, few who enter the park venture past the fish-stocked waters of 131,400 acre feet Lake Perris. To those who embark on this trek, if a little imagination is used, they will see perhaps not much indeed has changed since Juan Bautista de Anza passed through these mountains centuries ago. Take this trip in the spring, preferably after a rainy winter , when the various kinds of wildflowers are bright abloom, the grasses verdant, and the temperature cool. This range has no substantial shade from trees of any sort and is completely exposed to the triple-degree heat of summer; plan accordingly.

Miles: 4.5
Elevation Gain: 1,200'
Location: Lake Perris State Recreation Area, Upland Game Hunting Area ($10 entrance fee)
Directions: HERE

The Trail: From the Hunter's Point, take the horse trail through the brush and turn left, as the trail skirts the hillsides. After a few hundred yards, take a right turn up a small canyon up to its crest about 300' above the parking area. In Spring, this vale is alive with fresh growing grasses, various kinds of wildflowers including California Bells, Fiddle-necks, Popcorn, and Goldfields, and rejuvenated coastal sage scrub mainly consisting of Brittlebrush, varied sages, and California buckwheat. As the single-track path makes its way onto a multi-use trail, you will pass alongside the north-side of a cresting ridge on the left and up to a small communications station.

From here, take the faint use-trail up to the crest of the ridge, frequently overgrown in Spring, requiring a good eye to find. As you steeply ascend this route, the path turns onto the ridge and rides it about a mile, sometimes barley recognizable, to a small saddle between the ridge and Mount Russell. Descend into this saddle at the head of a canyon about 200', and wind around to the southwesten slope of Mount Russell. Here, the use-trail is quite useless, and a commonsense scramble coupled with solid route-finding techniques will be necessary. After ascending a steep couple of hundred feet past a pair of old wooden electrical posts, follow the ridge dotted with large rock outcropping and Laural and Lemonade sumacs to the boulder-strewn summit of Mount Russell, marked by a nearby Cross and summit register. After enjoying the solitude and welcoming breeze over the valley metropolis to the west and desert and mountains topography to the east, return to the base of the scramble section, and either retrace your steps, or (not-recommended) bushwhack the canyon back to the trailhead. The latter option requires pants, extreme caution, patience, route-finding, some bouldering, and a not so slight dose of masochism. If taken, follow the southside of the canyon where the brush is less thick and the ground, with its reptilian dangers, more evident. Apparently, there was once a fairly used climber's path through this canyon, but any semblance of it has since disappeared. Once at the mouth of the canyon, cross through an open country of invasive, yet charming, stinking chamomile and other native and non-native vegetation alike back to the multi-use trail and the trailhead.
Saint Joseph, Pray for Us!

Hiked 3/20/2017. Riverside County, CA

Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles

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