I’ve always been drawn to climb peaks. While I’m not a peak bagging fanatic, I do keep track of the peaks I climb and have some modest goals. The Sierra Club’s Angeles Chapter, Hundred Peaks Section (HPS) has a list of 275 named summits in Southern California of at least 5,000 feet in elevation. The consuming task of completing the list has no draw for me, but I would like to complete 100, including all of those in the San Gabriels.
So today’s outing was specifically to bag three peaks along the Angeles Crest Highway in the San Gabriels high country: Winston Peak (7502’), Buckhorn Peak (aka Mount Akawie) (7283’), and Mount Lewis (8396’). All three are short hikes of 1.0 to 1.25 miles round trip with 400-500 feet in elevation gain each. The summits don’t compare to other peaks in the area offering grand views and requiring lengthy hikes to get there. I have, however, seen each of these peaks from various perspectives on various hikes and have been drawn to their summits.
Hikemasters hiking group. Nine of us rendezvous at 7:30 on Saturday morning at the Highway 2 meeting location in La Canada. We drive 32 miles up Angeles Crest Highway to Cloudburst Summit (7018’) in the Mt. Waterman/Buckhorn area. This is a location where the Pacific Crest Trail crosses the highway. Our trail to Winston Peak starts off as an abandoned dirt road to the left of 3N02.
I’m the last to leave the summit at 9:54. We retrace our steps back, enjoying the beautiful high country. Looking east across the canyon, I eyeball Buckhorn Peak 1.1 miles away as the crow flies...our next destination.
10:13 - End our first hike (1.25 miles r.t. / 500’ gain). What a fun excursion! After a quick snack, we pile into the cars and drive up the highway 0.5 mile to a wide turnout on the north side of the street just short of mile marker 57.72. Our trail to Buckhorn Peak starts off past a locked vehicle gate on an abandoned dirt road heading north.
We continue east up the path. Beautiful scenery! Waterman Mountain towers to our south while somewhere below us in the canyon lies Buckhorn Campground. The roar of motorcycles on the highway disrupts the serenity. Back behind us, Winston Peak emerges as a long bulge on the nearby horizon. I’m really enjoying this trail. And it’s good hiking with others; I’m enjoying their company. We approach the summit, which is a wide, flat open space surrounded by trees. Lots of footprints indicate many visitors. An outcropping on the southeast edge appears to be the high point, so that is where I head.
I have grown accustom to the name Buckhorn Peak because it’s the name used on the Tom Harrison Map and has such a natural connection to the local. However, the Sierra Club HPS renamed it Mount Akawie in 1990 after Dick Akawie (1925-89), one of their leaders. It’s great to celebrate and honor those to whom honor is due, and Mr. Akawie seems to be worthy of recognition. But it bugs me that the Sierra Club renames peaks. Just gets too confusing. I guess I’m more of a traditionalist and prefer that geographic names be left alone. I’d say to the HPS, find a peak that doesn’t have a name yet and give it one. By the way, a name for this peak does not appear on the USGS topo map nor is a name listed with the U.S. Board on Geographic Names. So perhaps that fact contributed to the HPS’s assumed liberty in changing the name. Peakbagger.com also uses the Mount Akawie name.
We leave Buckhorn Peak at 11:20 and retrace our steps down, continuing to enjoy the beautiful setting and great weather.
11:40 - End our second hike (1.2 miles r.t. / 400’ gain). That was fun too! We pile into our cars again and continue up the highway 11.5 miles to Dawson Saddle (7901’) (mile maker 69.48). The last time I was here was to climb Throop Peak and beyond. Climbing Lewis Peak will be the steepest of our hikes today, gaining 500 feet in a half mile. Our trail starts just to the left of the maintenance building and heads north.
I leave the summit at 1:10 to catch up with the group. Soon I tangent unto a less-traveled route that follows the top of the ridge and I get some views west. I love the magnificent scenery of the high country. As the trail gets crazy steep, I catch up with the group as they carefully negotiate the descent.
Epilog - What an enjoyable day! Great company, perfect weather, magnificent scenery, splendid trails, three new peaks, and experiencing my beloved San Gabriels high country from a different perspective. I am always so thankful to live so close to these wonderful mountains and for the health and ability to enjoy the trails.
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Related Posts on Dan's Hiking Blog:
- Throop, Burnham, Baden-Powell - Sept. 3, 2011 - From Dawson Saddle
- Mt. Williamson Hike - August 25, 2012
- Cooper Canyon Falls Hike - April 28, 2012 - From Buckhorn to Cloudburst Summit