OverviewThis is a new page for Big Maria Peak. There had been a page posted here at Summitpost previously, but recently removed by its owner for some reason, so I am making up a new page. The problem is, my photos aren't the best, so if you have some, please attach them to this page!
The Big Maria Mountains are a stark desert range paralleling the Colorado River about a dozen miles north of Blythe, in far-east California. There are three potential summits: a 3,379 point on the north end of the range, a 3,381-foot point, and a 3,380-foot point about a mile south of the 3,381-footer. The 3,381-foot point has no official name, but often goes by Big Maria Peak. Much of the range is enclosed within Wilderness, and don't expect any shade along the way. This is as stark as desert summits get.
This peak is a popular destination for the Sierra Club's Desert Peaks Section crowd, as well as prom-chasers (it has 2,298 feet of prominence) and range highpointers. Like many peaks in the Mojave Desert, the approach follows a rocky canyon and gully system, some ridge-line walking, and the usual avoidance of all things prickly and pointy. Overall, the climb to the 3,380 and 3,381-foot points is fairly straightforward, and best done in winter. At worst, you deal with some loose slopes in spots, but nothing technical.
Winter is the best time to attempt this peak. Summer, and even parts of Fall and Spring, can be hot to very hot. Highs above 100 start in April and linger into October, and highs pushing 120 are common in the middle of summer.
In Blythe, follow Lovekin Road from Interstate-10 north about five miles to where it bends left (northwest) near some railroad tracks. The road is now called Midland Road. Stay on it for 8.5 miles, looking for a scant dirt road on your right near some power lines. You may see a plastic BLM road marker, calling it the Midland-Vidal Road.
This power-line road is okay for the first four miles, then comes to a big eroded section at the 4-mile mark. It's another 1.5 miles north beyond this eroded section to the de facto parking stop as listed in the DPS guide, but you may find yourself parking back at the eroded section. This will add 3 miles of flat walking to your trip. Standard high-clearance vehicles should be able to get to this eroded section with no problem.
New information from "cab": As of 2/24/13, the dirt road that leads to the DPS 4WD parking spot has been graded and is passable by almost any passenger car. It appears that the road was improved in order to replace the power poles that the road follows.
MoapaPk adds on 1/18/14 that the road has deteriorated slightly but that visitors sometimes fill in the ruts with rocks.
The take-home message is that this section of road is variable. If you cannot proceed past it, park before the drainage as it does not add too much to this relatively short hike.
The range is designated a Wilderness. The roads are outside this wilderness, but no fees are required. Just be clean.
You can scatter-camp just about anywhere up here, in the wide-open desert.There are developed campgrounds in spots along the Colorado River, but probably not convenient to this trailhead.
External Links My Trip Report (12-21-2008)
BLM Wilderness Information