Leaders: David Eisenberg, Charlie Knapke
32 of us met at 6:30 at the Mill Creek Ranger Station. We made a short 4 mile caravan to the trailend where we left most of the cars. We then drove to the Big Falls Picnic Area (Vivian Creek Trailhead) where we began the hike at 7:20.
Our route took us straight up via Camp Creek to Little San Gorgonio. This was the most strenuous part of the trip with a 3 mi. 3000' gain. We ran into an unexpected patch of serious snow and ice just at the lower 6 foot waterfall. This forced us to go up the side of the canyon where we were faced with a danger of rockfall. In spite of all care, we lost one major rock which grazed Al Holden. Fortunately he suffered only a bruise on his hand and was able to continue. The detour around the waterfall took about 1/2 hour with those on top crowding into a small flat area and remaining motionless so as not to drop more rocks. Once past this spot, we were able to return to the creek bed where it was quicker and safer. We left the creekbed at the major waterfall at the 7800' level and headed up the ridge to the right. From there, it was just a steep ridge up to the saddle between the radio tower and Little San Gorgonio.
From Little San Gorgonio, we hiked the trail, the road, and then back to the trail to Wilshire Mtn. and Wilshire Pk. In spite of the large group size, we also stopped on Oak Glen Peak: both to enjoy the view and to bag this UPS peak.
When we got to Cedar Mtn, there was some reason to worry about the time and weather since we were descending into the clouds and there was some danger of a white-out. Birch Mtn. was completely obscured by clouds at that time. Fortunately, the cloud cover began thinning as we reached Birch. Since we had received last minute permission from Mr. Hubbard to cross his property, we were able to continue on the ridge across his land to get to Allen Peak.
We reached Allen Peak at 5:10 where we found Bill T. Russell waiting to help me celebrate my list completion. Bill came up the ridge from the trailend, both to help me scout the route and to avoid doing the whole ridge when he just needed Allen.
After a short celebration, we began the exploratory part of our hike. We began by dropping back to the road where we turned West. We hiked about 1 1/3 miles west to the 4900' level where the aqueduct crosses the road. (This is off the topo slightly but is recognizable by a cement structure to the right of the road. We turned right on the aqueduct and hiked East (right) until we reached the firebreak shown on the edge of the Forest Falls Quadrangle, Section 8. Navigation was helped by Bill T. who had made a large arrow at the point we needed to crawl through the brush. (This has since been clipped by Carleton Shay who suggested this route.) The old firebreak was somewhat overgrown but mostly passable without clippers until the last 20' above the riverbed. At this point, we were faced with thick poison oak and a steep drop off. There were two dirt chutes enabling one to slide to the riverbed. Those at the bottom rated the slides of those coming down, as well as seeing which group could come down fastest. Several people who didn't want to slide, braved the poison oak and came down the ridge anyway. We then took the road to the abandoned campground where we had left our cars where we celebrated my list finish. Thanks to Carleton Shay for suggesting this route and to Bill T. Russell who scouted the Allen Peak ridge. Thanks also to all of the participants who helped make this a memorable hike.
If Hubbard had not given permission to cross, we could have descended legally to the city of Forest Falls by returning to the saddle between Birch and Cedar and going down the unnamed creek between Oak Creek and Bridal Veil Creek. (Do not take these by mistake as they have waterfalls over 100' high.) There is no 2nd or 3rd class if you are in the correct creek bed. Follow the creek past the water tower until you reach a paved road.
Turn right and walk to the Forest Falls Road. There is a large parking area to the left where the Forest Falls Rd. crosses the river.
Mr. Hubbard is emphatic about not giving permission to private groups. He will not respond to your letters and will prosecute anyone who does not have permission. He only allows scheduled Sierra Club hikes. Take the above route down and ascend Allen Peak up the ridge from the abandoned campground. This totally avoids private property and the need for permission.
The directions to Allen via the alternate route are as follows: Driving. From the Mill Creek Ranger Station, continue on HWY 38 for 3 miles until you reach a right turn just past the picnic area. Go right at all forks until you come to a welded shut Forest Service bathroom and abandoned campground. Park here (unlimited parking). Hiking: Go past the locked gate and go South on the dirt road until you cross the riverbed and arrive at a large pumping station. Go left (East) up the riverbed about 200 yards until you reach the foot of the ridge. Go up any way you wish until you reach the crest of the ridge and the fire break.
Continue up the firebreak until the aqueduct. (You may pass the aqueduct and continue up the road, but you will enjoy the aqueduct route and it adds only a 1/4 mile.) Turn left on the road to the highpoint north of Allen. Go right up the ridge to Allen Pk. (2.5 miles, 2000' gain.)