Moymer Trailhead to San Bernardino Peak
On a clear, cool Sunday morning Tom, Paul and myself met at my house in LA at 4:00 am to carpool to San Gorgonio for a modified version of the San Gorgonio “grand Tour” 9 peaks loop. Our plans were to drop Mount San Gorgonio (been there, done that) and add Dobbs Peak, then take the more direct route down via Dobbs West (southwest) ridge.
We left my house only slightly behind schedule, made a pit stop on the way, and were at the Moymer Trailhead in Forest Falls at 5:45 am. The trailhead is easy enough to find if you have done your homework. It is a large dirt parking lot with signage just before the fire station. Some maps show the “old” trailhead further west, but this trailhead is no longer used. We donned our warm clothes and headlamps and started off across the creek. Once you cross the creek the trail is well maintained and easy to follow. It starts off gradual as it contours over to meet up with the ridge, then it starts to get steep. Our goal was to maintain an overall speed of 2 mph, which we were able to maintain throughout the day.
As the sun arose over the neighboring mountains we left the well maintained Moymer trail and started up the not so well maintained trail to San Bernardino peaks. I have heard rumors of this trail and figured it would be worse than it was. There were many log crossings and the chaparral did encroach fairly close in some spots, but overall the trail was easy to follow and not to brushy if wearing pants. We gained some serious elevation gain and followed the trail up until the last switchback below East San Bernardino Peak. At this point I had previously planned to cut across to the west from the last switchback to avoid all the additional mileage east and the backtracking. Usually such plans are ruined when you get to the location and realize it is totally not feasible, but in this case it worked great. At the last switchback the chaparral had thinned out and there were large areas of talus and boulder fields that could be followed to the northwest. We were able to meet back up with the trail a little west of East San Bernardino peak and cut off a few miles. If I were to try this again, I would cut harder to the west and try to hook up with the low point at the saddle prior to the final climb to San Bernardino Peak (and save a little extra elevation gain). I was all about trimming the mileage down on this hike in order to make it more feasible to the average hikers, and when you look at the elevation/mileage profile below, I think you will agree that at approx. 20 miles we accomplished this goal.
First 5 Peaks
Now that the initial elevation gain was behind us, the peak-bagging portion of this hike started. We ascended San Bernardino Peak, East San Bernardino Peak, Anderson Peak, Shields Peak and Alto Diablo fairly quickly. We basically followed the trail and diverted off along the ridges to ascent each peak. To our surprise, we found some "extreme" hiker had signed the logbook at San Bernardino Peak 1.5 hours earlier. And as we signed each of the preceding logbooks this madman was slowly getting further ahead. By the time we reached Alto Diablo we actually regained some time and he was back to 1.5 hours ahead of us. It was sad to see that many of the summit registers had been ruined. A Boy Scout did a very nice job in anchoring ammo boxes to the rocks, carefully labeling each of them and including nice, big log books. But somebody who has an issue with summit registers smashed them with a rock and threw away the lids, making them look junky.
The view from Alto Diablo was demoralizing. We had a long trip down to Dollar Lake saddle and were going to lose a lot of elevation, only to have to regain it all to hike Charlton Peak. Then more ups and down to complete the remaining peaks. We started to wonder if we would make it to Dobbs peak in time to make it down the unknown ridge before dark. So off we went to Dollar Lake Saddle where we had a lunch break in order to get some fuel in our system for all of the additional gain.
Final 4 Peaks and Descent
The ascent of Charlton Peak was tough, we went straight up from Dollar Saddle rather than following the trail to the higher saddle to the east. As I said, we were looking to make this hike as efficient as possible. It was a good 800 feet to the summit. The hiker whom we were following the footstep of had further widened the gap, obviously he does not believe in lunch breaks. We continued on to Little Charlton, commenting how it really shouldn’t qualify as an individual peak because it does not have anywhere near 300 ft of prominence (Tom is particular about what does and does not qualify as a peak) and then continued on to Jepson Peak. At this point it was 1:45 pm. We were ahead of schedule. Tom suggested that we go for Mount San Gorgonio also. I was feeling beat and not crazy about the idea. I pointed out that even though it looks very close from Jepson, it is close to 2 miles away and 1000 ft additional gain. We would be hard pressed to get to Dobb’s by out scheduled time of 3:30 pm. We decided against it and headed for Dobbs Peak. The ridge to Dobbs is easy to find and easy to follow. It involved a straight shot down from Jepson to the low point saddle along the ridge. From there it was minimal elevation gain to the summit of Dobbs. Dobbs had nice views, but was not much of a peak, definitely not passing Tom’s 300 ft of prominence rule. We found the logbook and to our surprise the extreme super hiker had gained even more time on us ( 2 hrs 10 min). Our exhausted minds tried to figure out how he could have summited Mount San Gorgonio and still gained time on us. We had been assuming all along that the other truck in the Moymer Trailhead parking lot was his, and also assumed he was doing the 9 peak loop +1 (Dobbs) and taking the cross country route down Dobbs to Vivian creek. I suggested that maybe he bagged Dobbs first, then Mount San Gorgonio, but this made no sense if he was descending to Vivian creek. Well, we figured this extreme hiker must be “juicing” and headed down the steep west ridge of Dobbs. Neither of us had hike this route before, but we were armed with a new Route Page by a very reliable source and figured it would be straightforward. Which is was. It was very steep, pounded our leg muscles and seemed to go on and on. I was not quite sure when to leave the ridge and aim to hook back up with Vivian Creek trail, but I saw some footsteps heading down and followed them. I did not see any cairns and Tom figures I veered off the ridge too soon, but other then a minor amount of bushwhacking we found the Vivian Creek trail without problems. From here it was a basic descent to Vivian creek. Paul had decided he was happy with 6 peaks earlier on, had descended the trail from Dollar Saddle and was waiting for us at the trailhead, saving us the walk from Vivian Creek to Moymer Trailhead (thanks Paul!). All together the hike clocked in at right about 20 miles and 8300 ft elevation gain and took us 10.5 hours. A pretty reasonable hike, by excluding Mount San Gorgonio and including Dobb’s, plus the shortcut and shorter decent route, I figure this is a hike that anybody in decent shape can do.
8300 feet elevation gain
After we talked with Paul, it turns out he had a bit of an adventure as well. He dropped directly off Shields Peak into the Manzanita fields and fought through them to the Falls Creek trail. At the Dobbs Cabin junction (or close by there) he somehow got on to the old, closed trail (the original Falls Creek trail) instead of staying on the now Momyer Trail. It turned out significantly shorter than if he followed the trail all the way to Moymer Trailhead.
Then, on Monday I checked out the photos of the extreme hiker (aka Rick Kent) we were trailing and solved our puzzle of why he hiked Dobbs first. I will let his GPS Track do the talking. This guy is eXtRemE!!
GPS DataFor GPS tracks in both KMZ format (Google Earth) and GPX format (for downloading to GPS) check out my website: