Indian Canyon Road to Snow Benchmark (4949 ft, W6/CT-121) 19 April 2014

I had attempted this mountain in the autumn. Thanks to the government shutdown the area had been closed off. Now I returned, this time with my mountain bike. It was one of the few remaining summits in the San Gabriels not yet activated for SOTA.

Indian Canyon Road heads south up into the hills from Soledad Canyon Road. It has been closed to “civilian” vehicles for some years, and is gated. The Pacific Crest trail head is here also, but takes a different route. First I headed steeply up and rose 400 feet, then down (west) 200 feet into Indian Canyon itself. I left at 5:35AM, about 45 minutes before sunrise.

A nice waning gibbous moon and a brightening sky provided light

Then a nice mile along Indian Canyon, rising gently. The road was sandy in places but not a bad ride. The birds were awake and singing so it was very nice.

The road then heads right (west) and up to a saddle on the ridge above. The road had not been graded, I had hoped for a better surface. There was one other bike track in the road, and one vehicle track, I guess a 4WD since the road was so rough.

Snow Benchmark comes into view, a long ridge.

At the saddle, a firebreak heads up (and down) the ridge. I guess people used to take their jeeps up here so it has been blocked off! The firebreak is easily seen on Google Maps. If you enable the photo function you can find a picture of a Jeep on the fire break.  (  )

The road now heads south on the west side of this ridge, so Indian Canyon has been left behind to the east. Peak 4054 (W6/CT-156) comes into view. It lies in the heart of the Magic Mountain Wilderness. I doubt that it will be activated for SOTA, since getting to the top would require much burrowing through very dense chaparral. Not my cup of tea, nor anyones’ I guess! However, if you have the urge to go there,  a fire break coming down from Magic Mountain high point will get you within three quarters of a mile, as the crow flies…

Magic Mountain Wilderness high point, about 4700 ft

Some nice flowers

Looking up towards Snow, and the firebreak and Indian Canyon Road

The road surface is generally pretty darn crummy. Often it is like a stream bed. I pushed the bike up a lot. Luckily, I found it OK riding down.

More spring flowers

After six miles and two and a half hours, I came to the Santa Clara Divide Road, which runs along the east/west ridge from Bear Divide to the west, up over Magic Mountain, past Snow Benchmark, then down to North Fork ranger station, up to Mt. Gleason, down to Mill Creek Summit, continuing east to Mt Pacifico and then to the Angeles Crest Highway.

View west to Magic Mountain

View east to Snow Benchmark. The SOTA activation zone is half a mile long, take your pick of operating spots!

The crazy steep fire break on the ridge below

Peak 4054 in the center. Just to its left is a peak about 3800 ft tall. It has a prominence of 400 ft, so is not a SOTA peak

After half an hour I left the road and pushed the bike up through grass to the benchmark. About 30 feet away there was a strange concrete square about 8 feet on a side with what looked like a drain in the middle, no idea why it was there. I think this is a thing I barely made out from the Google maps aerial view. I didn’t feel like taking a picture of this structure!

The “new” 1962 benchmark says Trail Cyn! What happened to poor Snow Benchmark we will never know.

View along  the ridge of Snow Benchmark as it curves south. I later biked along the curve in the road to the “Vista Point”.  Skyline is Mendenhall Ridge, high point Iron Mtn #2. Towards the end of my operation today a couple of mountain bikers passed by on the road heading east.

Got on the HT and called CQ on 2 meters, talked with N6SRI (Ed) who was just beginning a hike in the area at Mint Canyon, and W6GEV (Eric) who was camping in Soledad Canyon. Then I set up the HF gear.

Bike tied off one end of the dipole

I was well before my alert time, so I just listened and tuned around and made a few non-chaser QSOs. The started calling CQ, and made contacts on 20m, then 30m. I took a break and talked with Frank KR6AL on the Catalina Repeater, the Brian AB6UI on the Hughes Aircraft Company (now Raytheon) repeater W6HA. I hadn’t heard anyone on the latter for years. Brian says they now have a net noon Thursdays and 9:30AM Saturdays so i think I will join in, since I used to be a member of the club before retiring. Then I went back to 20m.

30m CW: K6TUY W7RV AA5CK N5XL(s2s w7a aw-009) N0OI WA6RIC K6EL(s2s w6 nc-423) NA6MG(s2s w6 ct-023) K0YO W7CNL WD0EBZ VA6FUN

Radio bike packed and ready to head down

Magic Mountain Wilderness high point, and Peak 4054

The condition of the Indian Canyon Road sign matches the condition of the road!

Indian Canyon Road at Quail Spring

The road has a grade of 10%, so is steeper than I like to bike up hill. Ok for down though

Indian Creek

The ride down took one hour twenty minutes. After the hike/ride, I headed over to Blum Ranch in Aliso Canyon to buy honey and more peach jam. We will be going there again in harvest season to buy peaches and pears. It was founded by George and Magdalena Blum from Switzerland, in 1891!



Poppies at Clear Creek

Now the statistics. Seven miles up, seven miles down. Took six pints of water, drank three, then had a coke and half a pint of water in the car. Temperature was about 60F at the top, 74 at the base, though of course seemed hotter in the bright sun. 2900 feet up, 200 elevation gain returning.



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