QUICK TAKE: Cucamonga Wilderness, CA
DRIVE TIME: The Icehouse Canyon trailhead is about 50 miles (1 hour) east of downtown Los Angeles and 1 mile north of the Mt. Baldy Village.
THE WAY: Take I-10 east from LA, exit north on Mountain Avenue in the city of Claremont. Mountain Avenue ends at Mt. Baldy Road. Go left, follow the road to Mt. Baldy Village. The ranger station is on the left in the center of town. Pick up a free wilderness permit and pay the $5 parking fee. Trailhead parking is about a mile up the road on the right.
TRAILS: The wilderness contains more than 30 miles of trail. The one-way hike to Icehouse Saddle is 3.5 miles.
ELEVATION: The trailhead is at 5,600 feet; the saddle is at 7,800 feet. Telegraph Peak, the highest in the wilderness, soars to 8,985 feet.
CAN’T MISS: Try campsites at Cedar Glen or Kelly for vistas and quick access; head for Commanche if you like a physical challenge, remoteness, and can’t get to sleep without stream music.
CROWD CONTROL: The mouth of the canyon can be busy on weekends, but about a mile from the trailhead you enter the wilderness and reasonable solitude. On the east side of the saddle, you own the wilderness.
MAPS AND GUIDES: Tom Harrison Cartography’s Trail Map Of The Angeles High Country (415-456-7940; $7.97) is an excellent resource. The Mt. Baldy Nature Center (ranger station) sells maps and guides to the wilderness.
PIT STOP: The Buckhorn Lodge and Mt. Baldy Lodge serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Prices are reasonable.
WALK SOFTLY: Leashed dogs are permitted on trails but are discouraged in spring because of bighorn sheep activity. No open campfires; camp stoves only.
MORE INFORMATION: Angeles National Forest, 110 Wabash Ave., Glendora, CA 91741; (626) 335-1251.