I had been wanting to do these peaks for quite some time, and it seemed that my schedule and a scheduled trip just never coincided. The solution: do my own trip.
The Icehouse Canyon route is a long day at 18 miles and 4000' gain, but the alternate route allows the trip to be done as a 12 mile, 3300' gain spectacular hike, so I was told by Carleton Shay. He said the San Sevaine Road is open after Labor Day and is in better shape than the other road that comes up from Euclid. I was actually able to do about 10 miles of it in my Honda CRX when I scouted the drive one day, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone without a high-clearance vehicle.
From conversing with folks at the Wednesday night hike at Griffith Park I was able to recruit several interested hikers to go along with me. Plans were struck, a date set and on Sunday the 24th at 7:00 am we convened at the Pomona meeting point. Fortunately, we had David Baldwin's and Lee Zebold's 4x4's so access would not be a problem. The gang also included Janet Claflin, Elaine Baldwin and Dianne Edwards.
A bouncing, roller coaster ride on a dusty road always adds excitement to the day and this 11-1/2 mile road did not disappoint us. After reaching the Joe Elliot Tree site, we headed up the Cucamonga Peak Trail at about 9:00. Bugs were a bit annoying as we made our way along, across and then out of the South Fork Lytle Creek, but this soon changed to a semiforested section as we picked up elevation at a steady, moderate pace. It wasn't long before the view expanded before us showing Cajon Pass and Rte 15 as well as the fanshaped drainage patterns of Lytle Creek. The scenery just kept getting better the higher we climbed, now including the peaks from Mt Baldy clockwise to Ontario Pk.
We reached Etiwanda first around 1:00 and had lunch with a breathtaking view before us: a sweeping 360° panorama including the nearby peaks as well as the distant San Bernardino and San Jacinto Mtns. After lunch it was off to Cucamonga Pk. We got there in about 30 minutes just as the haze was starting to intensify. This peak is obviously more popular than Etiwanda as we had much more company, no doubt due to access from Icehouse Canyon, a 7 mile jaunt.
It took us only 2 hours to return to the cars and after a few moments to relax and review the day's hiking, we bade our farewells and headed back down the "roller-coaster" road. Carleton, you were right! We all agreed that it was indeed a spectacular hike into the beautiful Cucamonga Wilderness.