Smith Mountain Peak

March, 3rd 2012

Smith Mountain Peak, San Gabriel Wilderness

Elevation: 5,111 feet

Lat/Lon: 34.28059°N / 117.86369°W

Smith Mountain lies in the San Gabriel Mountain Range, just west of the North Fork of the San Gabriel River. 

To get there take the 210 freeway and exit Azusa Avenue (route 39) take that for about 18 miles and you’ll see the parking lot on your left, a restroom and the Bear Creek Trailhead is right next to that. You will need a National Forest Adventure pass to park there, which you can pick up at most outdoors stores. 

I just recently became aware of this trail after checking out the web for some new hikes. Once I read more about the hike to the peak of Smith Mountain, I knew I had to do it. Within a few days of first reading about Smith Mountain I was on the Bear Creek Trail with my trusty sidekick, Tiffany. Once you start off, you’re gaining elevation, about 600 feet in the first mile, but the views, and the general good feelings of this place, you don’t even notice that you’re hiking up hill. The trail is really well maintained and the 3-mile hike to the saddle was a breeze. I carried Tiffany for the last mile to the saddle, because I knew that it was going to be a steep climb to the peak and I wanted to make sure she had plenty of energy for the 1/2 mile climb to the peak, and it actually worked.

The hike to the peak was tough, kinda a rock scramble. You’ll be using your hands and knees in a few spots. I found that my trekking poles helped out, so bring those if you have them. Tiffany was great at picking out the right trail to follow to the top. I had to pick her up a few times, but she pretty much made it on her own to the top.

I wish I had timed the last 1/2 mile, because it felt like it took an hour. I’m sure it was more like 20 or 30 minutes. Once we made the peak I felt great. I was sucking some wind on the way up there. The elevation is only 5,111 feet...I guess I was just rushing too much to get to top. I broke out some food and water for Tiffany, tied her up to my backpack and started filming some video of the views, and while I was doing that, something charged Tiffany and she came running to me dragging my backpack. I heard the sound of something big crushing through the brush. I didn’t see what it was, but it was a predator for sure. You can check out the video and see it all go down. 

I calmed Tiffany down, she went back to eating, and after I had a power bar, we were off. The descent wasn’t that bad. I did slip twice on, mostly because of the melting snow, but we made it down to the saddle quicker then I thought. 

On the way down we did run into a bunch of tourist making their way to the peak. I thought, “good for them” and then I looked back after a few minutes and they abandoned their push to the peak.

What I loved about this hike is that it was only 7-miles round trip. It takes about 3 to 4 hours to complete, and it’s a challenge. 

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