Little Cahuilla Mountain

Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 33.60690°N / 116.8103°W
Additional Information County: Riverside
Activities Activities: Hiking
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Elevation: 5042 ft / 1537 m
Sign the Climber's Log

Overview & What You're Getting Into

When viewed from afar, Little Cahuilla Mountain is barely noticable compared to its nearest neighbor, Cahuilla Mountain, as it blends into the surrounding landscape and lacks a dominate feature like Cahuilla and its exposed granite faces. Its flanks are dominated by chapperal, manzanita, ribbonwood and similar brush and has only a few exposed areas of granitic rock adorning its summit and approach ridge. However, it qualifies for the Sierra Club Hundred Peaks Section List and does have over 500 feet of prominence making it a worthy goal for those seeking some sweat and solice for a couple of hours.

All this aside, Little Cahuilla Mountain rewards you with fantastic panoramic views of the San Jacinto massif, Thomas Mountain, Anza Valley, the Santa Rosas and the Palomar Mountain range. San Gorgonio and San Antonio are also readily distinguishable along with Hot Springs Mountain and Santiago Peak allowing you to view five county highpoints from an easily attainable hike.

Getting There

From Points North: Take I-10 or SR 60 east to SR 79 South in Beaumont. Go south on SR 79 to the Ramona Expressway and turn left (east).
Take the Ramona Expressway until it ends at SR 74 and turn left (east). Go east on SR 74 to Mountain Center at the junction with Idyllwild Highway (SR 243) and continue east on SR 74 for 12.5 miles to the intersection with SR 371 and turn right. Follow SR 371 for 9.5 miles to Cary Road and turn right.

From Points South: Take I-15 north to Temecula and take the SR 79 South exit and follow for about 17 miles to Aguanga and SR 371 - turn left. Follow SR 371 for 11 1/4 miles to Cary Road and turn left.

Finer Details: Follow the paved Cary Road which becomes Tripp Flats Road for 3.7 miles and turn left (west) on the dirt road at a signed junction for "Tripp Flats" as shown.
Tripp Flats & Cahuilla Mountain turnoff

At 4.5 miles, go left (west) through a normally opened gate on 6S22 at a junction with Tripp Flats Station on the right and a sign that says "trail."
Second Intersection

At 6.1 miles, reach a saddle and road fork. This is the parking for Cahuilla Mountain. At 6.2 miles reach another fork, but continue right on 6S22.

At 7.5 miles arrive at another prominent junction with 6S89 and a sign for "Allesandro Trail". Park here off the road.
Prominent Junction at the Trailhead

The road is easily navigable in anything, but a low-slung car. I drove it in a rented Kia Spectra with no problems.

Route Description

Little Cahuilla s Trailhead

From the parking area follow an obvious trail leading west. After a short distance, look for a boulder where a clipped and ducked use trail leaves the main trail and heads west-northwest following the ridge to the top of the prominent bump 4930'. From here, follow the trail along the ridge west-southwest around a rocky bump, up over elevation 4920'+. In total you will travel over 4 bumps of 4900 feet or higher. From the last bump you will drop down roughly 150' into a saddle, and up to the summit. The summit register is found at the top of the rocky summit area.

A useful idiot rode his/her dirtbike up the trail until the boulder described so you could almost follow this section in the dark. The use trail is pretty well clipped and ducked and very easy to follow since you can see the summit nearly the entire time. There are only a few areas where you will get "friendly" with the brush, but compared to Beauty Peak to the Southeast its a walk in the park.

The use trail was obviously designed to bring you to the top of the ridge as quickly as possible. This affords you the best views along the way and avoids losing elevation as much as possible until the last saddle. However it seems that if they had just followed the prominent ravine southwest and traversed the ridge in a westerly direction the approach would have been flatter until the summit push, but who am I to judge. Total r/t distance is 2.5 miles with about 700' of elevation gain.

Red Tape

Little Cahuilla Mountain lies in the Cleveland National Forest, therefore a USFS Adventure Pass is required to park at the trailhead. See link for more information.

When to Climb

Little Cahuilla Mountain lies in peninsular mountain ranges near the boundary with the desert region so in essence it can be climbed year-round. It is not uncommon for snow accumulations to occur on the peak from winter storms nor is it uncommon to have the temperature soar to near 100 in the summer. So bring warm clothing in the winter and light clothing and plenty of water in the summer.

Weather Conditions

Current weather at Anza, California


Named in honor of the Cahuilla Indians, as is Cahuilla Mountain 2.5 miles southeast. "Cahuilla" means "master" in the Takic dialect of Uto-Aztecan. Their migration legends tell that they came from the north (ca.600?) via the San Jacinto Mountains. They were known trading partners with the somewhat more sophisticated Chumash to the north and served as middlemen with the warlike Mojave Indians to the east. The Apapatcem clan traditionally lived at a village known as "Saupalpa" that was 5 miles southeast of this mountain. Although related to the Luiseños, the Cahuilla were never absorbed into the brutal Mission system, and so they survived intact as a group with strong ceremonial capacity and military ability. Members of the five Cauhilla clans united under the leadership of Juan Antonio and moved north to aid Antonio Maria Lugo defend his holdings against Mojave raids (1846). Another leader, "Cabezon" (a Spanish nickname which means "fathead") also joined in alliance with the Californios. This permitted a degree of autonomy for their people as a whole. They sided with the Californios during the Mexican-American War, and fought a number of battles with their traditional enemies the Luiseños- who didn't. Despite depredations by Americans in the 1850's, the Cahuilla prospered until the measles and smallpox epidemics of the 1860's. Their remnants were moved to their present day Reservation by order of President Grant (1875).

Name was originally misspelled as "Coahuila" on USGS topo and on the original HPS Peak List.

USGS bench mark on summit reads "Coa".

Name first appears on the AMS Hemet topo (1942).

Name officially accepted by USBGN (1963).

Peak was on the original 1946 HPS Peak List.

- HPS Summit Signatures -