OverviewMorton Peak is a peak in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains that overlooks the Mentone, Redlands, and Yucaipa areas. Perched on top is a historic fire lookout which you can rent out and spend the night in. The views from the top on a clear day are tremendous including what may be the best view of Mill Creek Canyon. You also have great views of Keller and Slide Peaks which rise immediately to the north, San Bernardino Peak to the east, Mt. San Jacinto, Palomar Mountains, and the Crafton Hills to the south, Cucamonga Peak & Mt. Baldy to the west, not to mention the towns of Mentone, Yucaipa, Redlands, Highland, and San Bernardino.
The southern side of the peak burned in the Emerald Fire a couple of years ago. The northern side is still thick with chaparral. Common plants are chamise, manzanita, live oak, yucca, ceanothus, and many types of seasonal wildflowers. Animals that you may see up here are raptors, hummingbirds (there is a feeder on the lookout), quail, rabbits, mule deer, bobcats, foxes, snakes, and lizards.
Take Hwy 38 east of Redlands/Mentone. About 1.5 miles past the Mill Creek Ranger Station turn left on Forest Road 1N12. The road is rough and rutted and steep so you'll need a high clearance vehicle and 4wd isn't a bad idea, either, especially if it has rained or snowed recently. Go 1.5 miles up 1N12 to the lookout gate. If the gate is locked and you don't have the key because you're not renting the lookout for the night, park here and walk the remaining 1.5 miles up to the lookout. On occasion there may be a fire lookout volunteer who will let you up into the lookout cab and will tell you about their job.
An alternative route would be to hike the Santa Ana River Trail 2E03 which skirts the peak and crosses the Morton Peak Road near its summit. The trail starts at the Pacific Crest Trail and then countours down along the Santa Ana River Canyon west towards Morton Peak. There are many places to access this trail. A recommended map for the trail would be the San Bernardino Mountains Recreation Topo Map. Click here to order this and other maps from the San Gorgonio Wilderness Association.
Morton Peak is accessible in the spring, summer, fall, and depending on road conditions, winter as well.
Red TapeAdventure Passes are required to park at the fire lookout. They are $5/day or $30/year. Interagency Passes are also accepted. Click here for more info!
Campfires may not be allowed. Click here for the latest info.
Please practice Leave no Trace Ethics on your visit to Morton Peak.
Click here to book a stay in the lookout, or call 1-800-Big-Bear. It is $75/night for weekdays, $85/night weekends. The tower is 30 feet tall and you must climb a steep staircase to get up into it. Inside it's a cozy 14 x 14 feet and there is a twin bed with a trundle, a telescope, and books and other reference materials. There is no electricity, no running water, and no cooking is allowed inside the tower. There is a pit toilet and picnic table on the ground. 3 adults or 2 adults/2 kids is the overnight capacity of the tower. Bring your own bedding, water, and food.
CampingThe nearest campground is Barton Flats, up Hwy 38 about 20 miles from the 1N12 turnoff. Dispersed or primitive camping is available further out 1N12 at Thomas Hunting Grounds. There is no water here nor bathrooms. Pack out what you pack in!
Morton Peak Fire Lookout
California Getaways - Morton Peak Lookout
Morton Peak Lookout reopens after Emerald Fire
Morton Peak Fire Lookout Volunteer Blog
San Bernardino National Forest
Link to area map
Weather Forecast for nearby Angelus Oaks