Mount Harvard stands tall and fortress like on the south slope of historic Mount Wilson in the San Gabriel Mountains of Southern California. Mount Harvard has been a local hiking favorite for over a hundred years. The founder for the Hundred Peaks Section of the Angeles Chapter of the Sierra Club first hiked this summit in March of 1924 which was the start of his hundred peaks quest. In 2000, the summit was delisted from the hiking group because of private property issues. The summit was bulldozed and covered in media towers which are fenced in two different layers. I made plans to ascend this peak by it's north ridge hoping to sneak up on the towers. If this route proved to be too difficult I had a back up route up the south ridge that I had spotted while hiking nearby Mount Yale. Either way I wanted to spend little if no time at all on the access road to the towers.
I hiked down the dirt road from Mount Wilson to the saddle with Mount Harvard. Off to the right is the summit road for Harvard with a menacing gate with barb wire and signs. It is quite easy to squeeze through the gap in the gate but I decided to skirt the cliff/slope to the left about 50 feet away. There was a bit of exposure along this slope and had to be careful about kicking rocks loose to the road below. Within a couple of hundred of feet I was on the wrong side of the fence. I hiked up the road a hundred feet and saw a nice use trail off to the right. The trail was built over a hundred years ago for the Martin Camp Resort that was at the saddle with Wilson. I was suprised to see the great condition of these old trail. I took it as it ascends the west face of the north ridge of Harvard. There was one section where the trail vanishes and all you have is a 30-40 foot tall class 4 rockface. A fun quick ascent of the face and your back to the meandering scenic trail. The trail was fairly open of brush and quite shaded with some occasional ticks. I gained the crest of the summit ridge and could see the towers nearing. I took the ridge to the tower fence and found a nice little outcrop that stands maybe five taller then the bulldozed area of the highest tower placement. It was quite nice to have this rock pile just outside of the very fenced and unwelcoming summit complex. It is a pretty isolated position from the main road that acesses the summit. Between the cliffs and the fence there wasn't a great route back to the road. I took my Martin's Camp Trail back down and then crossed under the first gate not caring if anyone saw me leaving. I can tell that Mount Harvard was a really nice peak before it was bulldozed. I returned to Mount Wilson and explored the HPS summit and the one Bob Burd has written about. All in all a nice day out.
External LinksHundred Peaks Section