I thought I would write a little about my favorite 8, 6, 4, 2 and 1 point summits after three years of Summts on the Air. Three years ago I would not have imagined that I would hike 50+ unique summits in Southern California. On looking at my selections, I see they have a common thread of providing some good solitude.
Mt Williamson (W6 CT-011) 8248 ft, 8 Points
Looking along the ridge towards the summit
This is a moderate hike, not strenuous. I like the pine trees and nicely graded paths on this mountain. About half the time I run into one or two other people when doing this hike. You can start from Islip Saddle on the Pacific Crest Trail (the sunny way) or from back along the Angeles Crest Highway to the west a couple of miles at the PCT (the shady way if you start in the morning). Elevation gain is about 1600 feet, 2.5 miles each way.
This is a fairly long bike ride of 9 miles each way, almost all on a paved road. The first 2.5 miles is 6% grade, then gets easier. The final mile or so is a 10% grade so I push the bike up this section. Elevation gain is about 1800 feet on the way up, 300 feet on the way back as you climb back to the shoulder of Little Gleason (Pt 6020, W6 CT-087). Remember, going down on the bike is much easier than walking! If you want, you can combine Little Gleason and Mt Gleason. Also, Mt Gleason has a 3 point winter bonus from 1 December to 15 March, so this is a good time to go if the road is clear and the weather is good.
I like the “feel” of the summit, which is an old Nike radar site. There are a few remnants of the old days here. On the way up, you pass by the burned-out remnants of the barracks, which were used as a fire fighters camp until the station fire of 2009. I think there will not be as much solitude at the summit if the road is ever re-opened to public travel. On my activations, the road has been used by trucks going up to the Gleason/Little Gleason Saddle to do high voltage line work. Perhaps they are finished by now.
One hint on this bike ride: try not to do it if there is a cold wind from the north or north east; the start of the ride at Mill Creek summit is onto the teeth of this. Twice I have abandoned the ride when faced with this kind of wind!
This is a very strenuous hike, about 7.5 miles each way, with about 3700 feet elevation gain up, and maybe a couple of hundred feet on the way back. It starts near Vogel Flats in Big Tujunga Canyon. Though this is my favorite 4-pointer, I don’t think I will do it again because it is very strenuous at my age. But this is a very good hike for solitude in some very rugged country! Take plenty of water, there is no shade so it is best not to do Condor in the summer.
Yerba Buena Ridge (W6 CT-163) 3892 ft, 2 Points
I have found that sometimes lower peaks like this have spectacular views of the surrounding peaks. Here is a view towards Condor Peak from Yerba Buena Ridge
This is a nice moderate hike with 7.5 miles round trip, and 2300 feet elevation gain. The path is well graded, and about half is on a dirt road. The trail starts on Gold Creek Road from Little Tujunga Canyon.
Only recently have I started to hike in the Santa Monica Mountains above Malibu. I have tended to do mountains in the San Gabriels until now. This is a nice little hill with a nice trail to it; about a half hour walk along Malibu Springs Trail from Decker School Road. I don’t think it sees too much activity, I am thinking hikers in this area probably are up on the Backbone Trail around Sandstone Peak and Triunfo Lookout. I have decided to refer to this peak as “Malibu Springs Hill” since it deserves a name!