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Lytle Creek, California, United States

Cucamonga Peak via Icehouse Canyon

A challenging 11.6 mile out-and-back hike with 4,300 feet of elevation gain to the 8,859′ summit.

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 (10 votes, 8 reviews)
Difficulty: Difficult
Length: 11.6 miles / 18.7 km
Duration: Full day
Dog Friendly
Overview: Cucamonga Peak offers amazing views over Southern California’s Inland Empire, east toward Apple Valley and beyond. This hike from Icehouse Canyon is a strenuous 11.6 mile out-and-back route with 4,300 feet of vertical gain and a top elevation of 8,859′. The north-facing slope holds snow much later in the season than other peaks.

From atop Cucamonga Peak you can see most of the better-known peaks in Southern California, including the distinctive saddleback mountains (Santiago and Modjeska peaks) in Orange County; Mt. San Jacinto, San Gorgonio, and Mt. San Antonio (Mt. Baldy).

This is the second of six southern California summits in the 6-Pack of Peaks bundle. Done in sequence, they provide great training anyone preparing for bigger hikes such as Mt. Whitney or Half Dome. Each hike in the 6-Pack is progressively higher in altitude, and all have respectable distance and vertical elevation gain.

Tips: Permits are required even for day hikes. Call ahead to the Baldy Village Ranger Station (909-982-2829) the day before and ask them to post it on the bulletin board.

A National Parks Adventure Pass is required for parking at the trailhead. Parking fills up quickly. Carpool and get there early.

There is water available in Icehouse Canyon, but treat or filter before drinking. The second half of the trail is dry. I would recommend two liters for this dry and often hot section of the trail.

The second half of the trail is steep, dry and exposed. On a hot summer day, I would opt to hike a different trail.

Points of Interest


Icehouse Canyon Trailhead

The Icehouse Canyon trail parallels Icehouse Creek. There are numerous cabins that dot the landscape along the lower section of Icehouse Creek, and you'll see the remains of still more cabins that were washed away by floods or rock slides years ago.

Icehouse Creek is extremely photogenic, but save the photos for the way back, with the more dramatic afternoon light.

Crossing a Steep Slope

This section includes several switchbacks as you traverse the steep canyon walls toward the saddle.

[JCT] Icehouse Saddle

Five trails converge at this saddle. Rest, regroup, then continue straight ahead on the trail to Cucamonga Peak. As you leave the saddle, the trail closely follows the contours around the side of Bighorn Peak, providing a much-appreciated break after the climb up the canyon.

Minor Saddle

At this minor saddle you'll have views to the west over the Inland Empire, and to the northeast over the Antelope Valley. On a clear day, you can see the 15 freeway in the distance, making it's way out towards Barstow.

From here on it's a steep climb to the summit with numerous switchbacks.

[JCT] Cucamonga Peak Trail

Watch for the sign to Cucamonga Peak, taking the trail leading to the right and up the mountain. You're almost there!

Cucamonga Peak

The southeast side of Cucamonga Peak is a precipitous drop, with stunning views of the smog-choked Inland Empire. If you are up here on a clear day, you can easily pick out Mt. San Antonio (Baldy), San Gorgonio, and San Jacinto.

Remember to sign the summit log!

Retrace your steps back to the Icehouse Canyon trailhead.

Ranger Station

You can pickup your free permit here at the ranger station. Permits are mandatory in the Cucamonga Wilderness, even for day hikes. The ranger station opens at 7am on weekends. If you are starting earlier, call the day before and they will pin your permit on the bulletin board outside.

Trailhead parking for Icehouse Canyon

Icehouse Canyon is a popular trail and this parking fills up early. A National Forest Adventure Pass must be displayed in your car.
Pictures in this guide taken by: modernhiker, rezn8o2, jeffhester, kylehayes
This trail is so picturesque, and the peak is even better! We backpacked for two days, one night at the peak and made it in about 7 1/2 hours. It was pretty cool (~75 degrees F) when we started. The hike to the saddle got steep but not enough to slow us down. We took breaks, however, due to the phenomenal sound of quiet which can overwhelm you whenever you're standing on the side of a mountain overlooking a valley. After a break at the saddle and seeing several trail runners and kind college students, we continued in to the quiet woods and hiked what seemed to be never ending switchbacks and steep incline (I'm talking about, like, 40 degrees)! We were really slow here, and got to a junction which seemed to lead us up a swale. We thought we lost the trail, it was getting dark, and we were so tired (taking small naps) that we were about to call it a night until we saw a glimpse of sky all around. I've never seen us hike up that hill so fast, but we finally made it at 5:45 pm and were greeted by the most beautiful view in southern california!
Visited on Jul 31, 2015

by deniset on Oct 01, 2015
Wow - one of my favorites. Less crowded than Baldy, much more scenic.

Full hike details and directions on my blog:

Visited on Aug 19, 2015

by on Aug 21, 2015
My friend and I hiked this peak in 6 1/2 hours and it was very nice. It had rained the day before and gave us beautiful ice sculptures on the way to the top. Views are great. We wished we didn't stop at the Ranger station as we could have filled one out at the trailhead. There are several paths to go but if you decide on the Cucamonga Peak, prepare yourself for some exposure. Brought too much water as 2 liters seems enough for me.

I was concerned over the wind chill on the peak, but when we got there it was almost beach weather! The views were great but a cloud came up and obscured the view so we hit the peak in perfect time. Any later and you'd miss the ice and views which was gone in about 2hrs. So get there early. We got there around 7am, but wished we hit it at 6 to get more ice in the way! ha

Next time we'll attempt the other way toward Tripeaks and see how that one turns out.

Visited on Apr 26, 2015

by andrew.nakamura.2015 on May 01, 2015
You only need an Adventure Pass if you use the facilities. An Adventure Pass is not needed if you are just parking at the trailhead and then heading up the trail. Don't let anyone intimidate you into buying an Adventure Pass when it is not required.
Visited on May 01, 2012

by on May 13, 2014
We arrived at the parking lot at 7:30am. Lot was already full, so we parked on the road a couple hundred yards down the street around the corner. The hiking permits are now available in a self-serve kiosk box at the trailhead, so you don't need to call ahead or go to the Ranger Station. We had great weather and enjoyed the scenery and view at the top. Our old knees ached a little bit on the way down, but well worth it. Great day.
Visited on May 10, 2014

by spmiller10 on May 11, 2014
Crowded but an awesome view from the top! Found it a little less challenging than Mt. Wilson but still got the heart rate up. Completed in about 7 hours with 30 minutes for lunch at the top. Carried 2 liters of water, wish I would have brought a 3rd. On to Baldy!
Visited on Jun 02, 2013

by nhiebert on Jun 04, 2013
Had a great day on this hike today. Beautiful views from the top and just a great trail. I am also following the SixPack and it has been great so far. Didn't get on the trail until 9 though and it was starting to get pretty hot before we got down. Wouldn't do this hike if it was much hotter not much cover on the second half.
Visited on May 24, 2012

by pstorey11 on May 24, 2012
I'm following Jeff's SoCal SixPack of Peaks series of trails.
Completed Mt. Wilson 2 weeks before this. The trail up to Icehouse Saddle was very crowded which turned me off a bit. But the trail leading to Cucamonga Peak was a lot less crowed and simply amazing. I completed this trail solo. Came back humbled and inspired. This trail is a must for So Cal folks.

Thank you Jeff for the guide.

Visited on Oct 04, 2011

by thx123 on Oct 03, 2011

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I live in Southern California, where most people are completely unaware of the hundreds of great hiking...

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