Hike #1 – Cucamonga Peak
Cucamonga Peak Hike
Distance: 12 Miles
Time: 6-7 Hours
Elevation: 8,862 ft
Location: Cucamonga Wilderness in San Bernardino National Forest.
Cucamonga Peak is hands down one of my favorite hikes in the Inland Empire thus far. Granted, I’ve only completed a couple of the big known hikes for the past year, so I don’t have a ton of hikes under my belt just yet. But one thing is for certain, you can’t beat the views once you’ve ascended Cucamonga Peak. Every time I go up there, I’m always taken back on everything that I’m seeing. Cities like Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga, Corona, Riverside, Jurupa Valley, and even the sky-scrappers in downtown Los Angeles are all in your view. So this peak is definitely one that I recommend for all to try.
This peak finishes at a total distance of 12 miles. Which is broken down to 6 miles up the peak and then another 6 miles back down. So don’t let the 12 mile number discourage you from even trying this hike. It may seem daunting, but I promise you it’s not the worst thing in the world. Take into account that when I first did this peak last year, this was the very first hike I’ve ever done. Apart from hiking the Bridge to Nowhere, which isn’t even close to the elevation gain as this one, I too was able to complete this on my very first try. So If I was able to do this, I know you can too.
So let’s go straight to my thoughts on the hike. I loved it! Short and simple. If you’re looking to get away from those dirt trails near your backyard or just want a change of scenery, then I believe the Cucamonga Peak hike is for you. It has just about everything on what you would want to look for into a hike. It’s a hike that is surrounded inside the San Bernardino National Forest, which means lots of outdoor scenery, the wilderness, the trees, leaves, mountains, etc. It has it all.
There’s a bunch of stuff to see. You’ll come across cabin homes reminding you of the great outdoors located in our area. You’ll also come across a couple of chimney structures, or at-least what’s left of it, which signifies the past and what is left. (More pictures on those chimney structures below!). As you continue hiking the trail, there will be tons of opportunities to see the mountains across the Cucamonga Wilderness. Below is a quick video of the vast landscape.
The trail is a bit rocky once you reach mile #5. This is where I highly recommend wearing hiking boots. They will protect your feet and help avoid any major injuries. This hike can creep up on you physically. At least for those who are just starting out. And what I mean by that is the physical toll it can take on your body if you haven’t hiked all that much, if not at all. Especially on your legs/feet. When I first hiked up Cucamonga Peak back in 2019, I made the mistake of hiking up the peak with Nike running shoes. I regret looking back at it now. My feet were pretty sore for the next couple days and I remember limping all day at work. It sucked! It took a couple of days for the inflammation to go down but I couldn’t put much weight on my feet at the time.
This is why I highly recommend wearing hiking boots, opposed to wearing tennis or running shoes. The trail on Cucamonga Peak will become very rocky at certain points of the hike. So wearing shoes that will protect your feet during a 6 mile hike will come in handy. If Cucamonga Peak is the very first hike your diving into, that’s fine, but understand that you should come prepared. Making sure you bring the necessary gear and supplies that will help make this hike worth it. I will list everything that I used below.
I do believe that even beginners can push through to the top. And while I’m ranking this hike as a difficult one, If you’re someone who keeps yourself in shape then I believe you will be fine. However, if you’re someone who isn’t physically active, then I definitely recommend some smaller hikes before diving into this one.
I began the hike by arriving at Ice House Canyon Trailhead around 8am. Which meant I was up early in the morning to make sure I had all my materials ready. The parking lot at Ice House Canyon does require an Adventure Pass for parking. Those cited without a pass can receive a ticket. Not 100% sure how much that will cost you. But Adventure Day Passes cost $5 for a single day use or you can purchase a yearly Adventure Pass which will cost you $30.
Information on where to purchase Adventure Passes
Once you’ve become settled in and ready to begin the hike, the trail is just ahead where you’ll find the information board regarding the area and the trail. Here is where you will find the permits which are required for this trail. Fill one out and place inside the post as directed. You keep one copy to yourself and an extra copy in the post. Once you have it all completed, you are ready to begin. The picture below is what you’re looking for once you head towards the start of the trail.
During your first mile, you will come across the cabin homes as I’ve mentioned at the top. There are plenty of them so please be mindful as your walking on the trail.
Here are more of those broken down chimney structures. They are pretty cool to be honest and I took some time to explore and investigate what may have happened in the past.
At the end of mile #1, you will come across this sign. This is your first mile mark. Just continue straight ahead. The trail continues up ahead.
As you approach the end of mile #2, the landscape begins to change. You will soon see this sign below which officially welcomes you to the Cucamonga Wilderness.
Mile 2 & 3 is where you begin to ascend up the mountains as you get closer to the halfway point of the hike. It does become more rocky at this point, so please come prepared!
As you approach near the 3 mile mark, you will come across this sign below. You want to head on right side towards Ice House Saddle. On the right, you should see the trail continue to ascend. This will take you to Ice House Saddle. Head that direction. Just up the distance, you will be at the halfway point.
Once you have arrived at the Ice House Saddle, you will notice 4-5 different signs. They all point you in different directions, depending on which peak you are hiking. We are looking for the Cucamonga Peak Trail sign which is just up ahead. Here is a picture of the sign below. Just follow the trail in the direction which the sign is pointing and this will take you to the peak.
As you continue on the Cucamonga Peak trail, this is one of the highlights of the hike overall. You’ll have an amazing view of the mountains from a great position. Perfect for pictures 😉
Lastly, you have finally made it to the top of Cucamonga Peak at the 6 mile mark! Amazing job! There you will find a Cucamonga Peak wooden sign. Perfect for taking pictures. Don’t forget to tag us @seekingmytravels on Instagram if you do :). And of course, you have a front row seat to the view of the Inland Empire!
As I mentioned earlier, here is a list of all the things I brought during my hike. In case you needed any idea on what to bring for a hike like this.
I made sure I had plenty of water. The last thing you’ll ever want is to be short of water. I brought food & snacks, including my own lunch. I purchased all my food from Walmart before driving to the trailhead parking area. The items below is just what I needed for my day.
- 6 pack of Glaceau Smartwater
- Food & Snacks (Walmart)
- REI Co-op Ruckpack 28 Pack (REI)
- Talus Tek UltraDry Hiking Boots (REI)
I currently use “All Trails” mobile app on my phone during my hikes to help guide me. I will attach a link below. This was super helpful for me and it was something I used to help me stay on track in case I felt lost.
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