For my 40th birthday I decided to skip work and get what may be my last hike in for the year. Mike Basgall and I decided to head up to Icehouse canyon and do Cucamonga Peak as a nice dayhike. We got our permit at the Ranger station, probably just as they opened at about 7:15. We drove the short distance to the trailhead, parked the truck and were headed up by about 7:30. The hike up Icehouse canyon is very pleasant. There was still a fair amount of water in the creek, probably from the recent rain. The lower part of the canyon has good cover, so would probably be nicely shaded on a hot day. The second half of the trip up the canyon is more open. It gets a little steeper on this part, and the trail is over more rocks. We made it to Icehouse saddle about 10:00, taking our time.
I took my jacket off here as it was pretty nice, my thermometer said 55F, had a little snack, then we headed off towards Cucamonga. The trail is obvious and well marked, but we still headed down the Middle Fork trail instead of the Cucamonga Peak trail, but is wasn’t long before we realized our mistake, turned around and headed back up to the fork, where we took the correct right fork. From here to the saddle between Cucamonga and Bighorn was my favorite part of the hike, with nice views, fun trail, and not too much climbing. We got to the saddle and stopped for a minute to look at the route up to Bighorn. We were thinking about this for the trip back. I had read jjcates trip report, but didn’t see the use trail up here. Oh well, we’d worry about that when we got back. From the saddle it’s a quick trip to the top. There was still a little bit of snow on the ground in the most shaded north facing bits of the trail, not much really, just enough to make a snow ball with. We were at the top by 11:30, and stopped for lunch. The views were fantastic, you can see all the way down to Upland and the Deer Canyon route. Looks pretty open, I wouldn’t want to go that way on a hot day. We also took a look at Bighorn Peak. The route up the ridge seemed pretty obvious even without a use trail, so we decided we would go that way.
We packed up and headed down after about 15 minutes. We were at the saddle probably about 12:15 and headed up. The first two thirds are the steepest, but it eventually eases up and it is no trouble finding the way up. Probably you’d call it class 2 only because there is no trail and it’s a bit steep. We spent just a little bit of time up here, enough for another snack, and time to figure a way back down to Saddle Junction. We didn’t see any use trails down, and didn’t feel like going Southwest towards Ontario Peak towards that trail, just to have to double back towards the saddle, so we decided just to bushwack it down to Icehouse Saddle. We went down the north side of the draw just east of the peak about halfway, then crossed over to the south side, traversed around and came to the gentler slopes above Icehouse saddle. In retrospect, I think I would have headed off a little more East than we did and skip the draw altogether, but it wasn’t that bad, though a bit steep, and the manzanita was pretty thick just above the saddle. In any case we made it down pretty quickly and were stopped for a quick break to empty rocks out of my shoes (even with scree gaiters!) about 1:30.
We decided we had time for one more, and left for Timber Mountain. It’s only .9 mile from the saddle, so we were up pretty quickly, by about 2:00. At this point my knee was starting to bother me a little so I slowed down a bit near the top, but I was glad we had saved this one for last, since it was the easiest of the three, just a little bit of steep trail in the beginning, getting easier as you get closer to the top. We didn’t see a register in the box, so we were out of luck for our third peak. Neither Michael nor I had ever signed a summit register before, but I decided to do so on this trip, and was a little bumbed not to find one up here to make it a trifecta. Anyway, we had another little snack, and headed down.
We made it to back to the saddle and headed straight down. Up to this point we hadn’t seen or heard anyone else all day. A bit of a surprise to me since I had read so much about the traffic on this trail, but we had been fortunate and had the whole place to ourselves. On top of the outstanding weather (no more than about 65 and hardly any wind, even on the summits), the quiet was a bonus. In any case, as we headed down, we saw a couple nearing the saddle, the first of only six people we would see total on the trip down. We took our time down, actually slowing down a bit to look at the canyon. I really like this canyon, and would like to come back with the kids. We were back at the truck about 4:15, hopped in and headed out.
This was a nice way to spend my birthday. If I were to do anything different, I would consider doing Ontario instead of Timber, if only for an excuse to skip the bit of cross country down to the saddle. Ice house saddle is a nice destination, since as something of a hub, it lets you do as much or as little as you want. According to Topomapper our day was 13.01 miles with 6174 feet of climbing, not too shabby!