Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Location: Monterey Park, CA
|Posted: Mon Feb 29, 2016 9:45 pm Post subject: Monte Cristo Four-peak Loop
|On Sunday Cecelia and I left the house at 6:20am not knowing what to do in the mountains. And when in doubt, I start driving up the Angeles Crest Highway.
It wasn't long before the winding road reminded me of the time I put the Monte Cristo Loop on my to-do list. Cecelia agreed it was a good day for it. So at Clear Creek we turned left and drove to Monte Cristo Campground.
The campground gate was closed. We parked in the turnout and hit the trail around 7:40am.
The road pleasantly meandered through the Monte Cristo Creek canyon. There was some water trickling across the road in a couple spots. The road clung to the walls for a stretch to avoid some mini-narrows. Then it regained the streambed (now dry) and hit a junction, where straight was a private, gated driveway, and left was a water tank alongside a service road for the electrical towers.
We continued leftward, climbing toward the towers on Rabbit Peak's south ridge. At the ridge, we located a small use path moving from the road up to the ridgetop.
Soon we made the summit with a little breeze clearing the air for some distant views of the nearby peaks.
To the west were Fox, Condor, and Gleason. To the south, Josephine and Strawberry.
And to the east awaited the other three peaks in the loop: Granite Mountain, Roundtop, and Iron.
To reach Granite we dropped down the north side of Rabbit to a saddle. Then we climbed approximately 1500' of gain along the northeast trending ridgetop to a summit with scattered car-sized boulders.
The boomerang-shaped peak had three or four small sets of rocks, two of which were close to the same height. We located a register in one of the sets. But I won't reveal which one.
After eating lunch, Cecelia and I took turns mounting the summit block, and then we continued on the loop toward Roundtop. We dropped off the southeast ridge of Granite and hooked up with the aptly named Roundtop Road. The highlight of the road, however, was the open view of Mt. Pacifico.
There wasn't anything special at the end of the road. Not even a register. But I snapped a picture anyway.
From Roundtop we headed down the west ridge, encountering a few healthy trees along the way.
The upper part of the ridge was mellow while the lower part was a bit steep. A marked use trail was easy to follow down to the saddle below Iron Mountain.
A short climb up the more established Iron Mountain Trail brought us to the fourth and final peak of the day.
We signed the register and admired the glorious Alder Creek watershed.
Then we basically followed the West Ridge route back down to Monte Cristo campground, thus completing the loop.
Yay for us!
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