January 11, 2010

Hike Review: Morton Peak Trail

Location: east of Mentone, CA
Distance: 3 mile out and back
Difficulty: Easy
Recommended Map: National Geographic TOPO! Weekend Explorer 3D (Los Angeles, Los Padres, San Bernardino National Forest)

This was an easy 3 mile out and back trail. The easier and shorter the hike, the easier it is to review the excursion. And seeing as this is my first post, easier is better in familiarizing myself with the setup and process.

The trail head is above Highway 38 to the north east of the Mill Creek Ranger Station and just west of the picnic area along Hwy 38 known as Thurman Flats. The turnoff from Hwy 38 is a dirt forest road designated 1N12. This road can be navigated by most two wheel drive vehicles. The trail head can be recognized by a giant gate along this forest road about 1.5 miles from the highway. Park here, but do not block the gate.

The trail is more of a fire road. It climbs steadily, but not strenuously for 1.5 miles. At the top you will be welcomed by a beautiful view of the greater Inland Empire and on a clear day one may be able to see into LA. At the top you will also be greeted by the lookout tower. The tower can be rented for overnight stays. I believe they charge $75 per night and the Rangers at the Mill Creek Station will give you the key to the gate and allow you to skip the hike.

This is a very easy, accessible and scenic hike. I hiked it with an 8 year old who had no difficulties. I recommend that this trail be tackled in the colder months. There is no shade along the trail and the view from the top can be clouded by smog in the summer months.