Tahquitz Rock to Lookout Tower Traverse

Tahquitz Rock to Lookout Tower Traverse

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 33.76000°N / 116.6811°W
Additional Information Route Type: Scrambling
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall
Additional Information Time Required: Half a day
Additional Information Difficulty: Class 2 to 5
Additional Information Grade: I
Sign the Climber's Log


Looking for something a little bit different than hiking to the lookout tower on a Class 1 trail for a few hours? Try this do-it-yourself ridgeline traverse from Tahquitz Rock to Tahquitz Peak! The terrain offers a little something for everyone but be assured that "everyone" best possess some confident rock climbing skills before adventuring this course.
The Traverse from the backside (SE slope) of Tahquitz Rock to Tahquitz Peak’s lookout is approximately one mile of Class 2 to Class 5 hiking, scrambling, and climbing. With an elevation gain of 1000’, the climb is sustained and encounters with obstacles are many. Although you may travel strictly south through the pine and Manzanita until reaching the South Ridge Trail, staying close along the southern buttresses of continuous granite walls is the most exhilarating way to go.

Route Description

Ascend Tahquitz Rock in any fashion desirable, but be mindful that any extra gear you bring will also have to suffer with you through some vertical bushwacking. Taking the North Gulley to the saddle between Tahquitz Rock summit and pinnacle rock croppings is the most likely avenue of approach. See North Gulley Descent page for directions and description of route. Also taking the trail along the base of Tahquitz Rock to the south and around past the Friction Descent will get you to the saddle where you will begin the Traverse.
Once at the saddle, you will begin a southeastern trek over stone within your ability to free solo; varying degrees of Class 5 will be encountered. To keep this within manageable “safe” low level Class 4 and 5, stay as south (to your right) as possible while avoiding too much bushwacking through chaparral and Manzanita.
You will come upon large pinnacle cropping after cropping, pick your best line of weakness and go for it! Be advised, there is considerable exposure in some sections and the possibility of becoming blocked by imposingly vertical headwalls. Stay to your right!
After more than halfway (half a mile), you will descend slightly through the forest to avoid vertical lobes of sheer stone and then begin to ascend again on a fun Class 3 and 4 ledge system until stepping onto the South Ridge Trail.
Take trail to summit, or keep left and scramble over more Class 2 and 3 stone to final approach on trail just west of the lookout tower on the summit of Tahquitz Peak.
For descent, do your self a favor and take the trail to Saddle Junction and jump onto Devil’s Slide Trail to the parking lot at Humber Park. Otherwise, descend from whence you came and enjoy dumping the scree from your shoes every half hour. You can also take the South Ridge Trail but will find yourself 3+ miles away from Humber Park.

Gear Needed

Nothing more than good approach shoes and plenty of water; map and compass if unfamiliar with the area.
Lots of water!

Time to Climb

Spring to early Winter are the best times to do the Traverse.
It will be rather warm in mid-summer as this is a southwest facing trek.
Spring is a wonderful time to experience the swarms of bees in the manzanita blooms and red ants in chaparral.

Red Tape

Adventure Pass must be posted in vehicle parked at Humber Park or South Ridge Trail trailhead.
Self-issued trail pass also required if you are descending via Devil's Slide trail to Humber Park.

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

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asmrz - Jan 19, 2011 2:49 pm - Voted 10/10

In Winter

This route, either via North Gully or North Rib or even the North Buttress of Tahquitz Rock to the Notch and up the ridge to the Lookout Tower can be a wonderful winter outing. If you decide to go via the North Rib or North Buttress you'll need a rope and pro, also ice axe and crampons, but the climbing is fairly easy and the ridgeline to the Lookout Tower is great. You can make the upper part (to the Lookout Tower) as easy or hard (scramble to easy 5th to about 5.9). The North Gully in winter also (usually) requires crampons and ice axe. Return via traversing the Tahquitz Peak's North Face (a bit of technical ice terrain), then down to the Saddle and via the Devil's Slide to Humber Park. Might be Alpine Grade III, mid 5th class the easiest technical way, about 7-9 hours in winter RT (if you know the way). See some photos in this post from our winter climb a few years ago. Cheers, Alois Smrz.

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