Los Angeles, CA: Ontario and Bighorn Peaks via Icehouse Canyon

Explore the ruins of historic taverns and watch clouds roll over two 8,000-foot San Gabriel peaks on this 14-mile out-and-back in the Cucumonga Wilderness.
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Explore the ruins of historic taverns and watch clouds roll over two 8,000-foot San Gabriel peaks on this 14-mile out-and-back in the Cucumonga Wilderness.

The 7-mile route over Bighorn and Ontario peaks begins in the shade of Icehouse Canyon, where hikers pass through the stone ruins of a 1920s wilderness lodge. The Icehouse Canyon Trail steadily climbs 3,200 feet in the first 5.5 miles of this trip, traveling from a lush creekside environment to coniferous forests to exposed, rocky ridgelines. After only 2 miles, you'll drop the crowds at Icehouse Saddle and enjoy 360-degree views of nearly every peak in Cucumonga Wilderness.
More views await as you pass the crumbling foundation of another abandoned resort, Kelly Camp, and break through tree cover once again. Big skies offer up a massive panorama of the backside of Ontario, Cucamonga Peak, Bighorn, Timber Mountain, Telegraph Peak, Thunder Peak, Mount Harwood, and Mount Baldy. From the Bighorn Peak Trail, climb up a steep grade with loose talus to Bighorn then take the ridgeline trail 1.5 miles through manzanitas to Ontario. Both summits have a sweeping vista of the evergreen-blanketed San Gabriel Mountains; the tallest peak, Mount Baldy, stands out prominently to the west.
-Mapped by Casey Schreiner

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 22.4

Waypoints

OBP001

Location: 34.2503052, -117.6371765

From the southeast corner of the parking lot, pass through the old gate on a semi-paved road. This is the site of Chapman's Ice House Canyon Resort. Hike east on the Icehouse Canyon Trail for a mile, passing the resort's stone ruins. The trail sticks to the north side of the creek, making its way through several historic cabins.

OBP002

Location: 34.2489357, -117.6218109

Bear right @ the Y-junction, heading east on Icehouse Canyon Trail.

OBP003

Location: 34.2484016, -117.6154938

Cross a small tributary of the Icehouse Canyon Creek and continue east into Icehouse Canyon. The trail leaves the riparian landscape and traverses through looser boulders and talus.

OBP004

Location: 34.246933, -117.613121

Hike east over rocky terrain, making a steady, moderate ascent. The Icehouse Canyon Trail crosses into the Cucamonga Wilderness Area. The boundary is marked by two sizable boulders and a large wooden sign posted with rules, regulations, and safety tips. Hikers and backpackers in this area may be asked to show Wilderness Permits to rangers.

OBP005

Location: 34.2459488, -117.6078873

Pass a steel sign, marked with the number "2." The trail leaves the canyon floor and begins a major ascent along the canyon's north wall.

OBP006

Location: 34.2432442, -117.604599

Walk by Columbine Spring, a free-flowing spring and small pool just south of the trail that is the last reliable source of water on the route. Begin climbing a series of long switchbacks on the north side of Icehouse Canyon.

OBP007

Location: 34.2419205, -117.5998611

Keep right @ Y-junction.

OBP008

Location: 34.2392807, -117.5944901

Reach Icehouse Saddle (7,555 feet) at the end of Icehouse Canyon Trail. This is an exposed and often-crowded rest stop.

OBP009

Location: 34.2391014, -117.5943909

Veer to the far right @ the 4-way junction, merging onto the Ontario Peak Trail. The trail heads west along the south slope of Icehouse Canyon and cuts through alpine forests and manzanita. It is often very icy during winter. Use crampons and ice axes if the weather requires them.

OBP010

Location: 34.2338982, -117.6044846

Enter Kelly Camp, the site of a former wilderness resort. Several foundations and staircases are still visible. Keep left @ the Y-junction in the camp, and head south as the trail climbs the north slope between Ontario and Bighorn peaks.

OBP011

Location: 34.2323723, -117.605896

Hop over a downed tree and follow the established trail as it climbs toward the southwest. Ignore the use-trail that heads east from the tree toward Bighorn Peak.

OBP012

Location: 34.2314377, -117.6080551

Keep left @ the Y-junction, turning onto Bighorn Peak Trail. Here, you have a phenomenal view of Bighorn Peak and Cucamonga Peak to the east as well as Timber, Telegraph, and Thunder peaks to the north. Continue on the Bighorn Peak Trail as it heads east, staying just north of the ridge.

OBP013

Location: 34.2320747, -117.6005249

The Bighorn Peak Trail becomes very faint and disappears beneath patches of manzanita. Hike southeast 100 feet toward the edge of the ridge. From there, the trail becomes visible again as it climbs northeast through the brush on Bighorn Peak's southwest face.

OBP014

Location: 34.2336845, -117.5981674

Reach the summit plateau of Bighorn Peak. Hike east about 150 feet to the summit, marked by a pile of white rocks.

OBP015

Location: 34.2336998, -117.5977097

Rest at the summit of Bighorn Peak (8,441 feet). Take in the nearly 360-degree views from the bare summit then return west on the Bighorn Peak Trail toward Ontario Peak.

OBP016

Location: 34.2314034, -117.6080246

Stay left @ the Y-junction, taking the Ontario Peak Trail. This trail heads northwest through manzanita and large swaths of dead pines and then winds around a prominent bump on the ridge.

OBP017

Location: 34.2314262, -117.6126938

Head west through another large section of dead trees.

OBP018

Location: 34.228405, -117.6194382

Alternate Descent: Turn left off-trail into Falling Rock Canyon for a class 2 bouldering descent back into Icehouse Canyon. Stay on the ridge between Cherry and Falling Rock Canyons as it descends about a mile to the northwest. From here, ascend Sugarloaf Peak (6,924 feet) for commanding views of Mount Baldy Village and the Icehouse Canyon parking area. The ascent adds only about 1,400 feet to the trip. Otherwise, continue a half mile down the western side of Falling Rock Canyon through loose rock and scree. The only major obstacle is a 20-foot waterfall near Icehouse Canyon, which is passable through use-trails east of the falls. While this is not classified as a difficult route by bouldering standards, it is much more difficult than hiking along the trail.

OBP019

Location: 34.2276878, -117.6241074

Reach the summit of Ontario Peak (8,693 feet), a small rocky outcropping with spectacular views of the Baldy Bowl, Mount Baldy Village, and the rest of the San Gabriels. When finished with the view, take the Ontario Peak Trail to Icehouse Saddle and retrace steps back to the trailhead.

Trailhead

Location: 34.250248, -117.63694

©Casey Schreiner

Trail cuts into Icehouse Canyon

Location: 34.2501335, -117.634964

©Casey Schreiner

Historic cabin

Location: 34.2494545, -117.6315155

©Casey Schreiner

Ruined cabin foundation

Location: 34.2475891, -117.6151276

©Casey Schreiner

Rockier trail in upper Icehouse

Location: 34.246685, -117.6126404

©Casey Schreiner

First portion of saddle ascent

Location: 34.2457237, -117.6071014

©Casey Schreiner

Columbine Spring

Location: 34.2434082, -117.6048355

©Casey Schreiner

Hikers rest at Icehouse Saddle.

Location: 34.239563, -117.5946045

©Casey Schreiner

The Ontario Peak Trail

Location: 34.2386634, -117.5939655

©Casey Schreiner

Kelly Camp

Location: 34.2338562, -117.6042709

©Casey Schreiner

Downed log

Location: 34.2323837, -117.6057434

©Casey Schreiner

Final ascent to the ridge

Location: 34.2318764, -117.6071014

©Casey Schreiner

The trail to Bighorn Peak

Location: 34.2312546, -117.6059647

©Casey Schreiner

Faint trail

Location: 34.2322159, -117.600029

©Casey Schreiner

View of Ontario from Bighorn

Location: 34.233345, -117.5990753

©Casey Schreiner

Approaching Bighorn's summit

Location: 34.2337418, -117.5979385

©Casey Schreiner

Dead trees on Ontario's north slope

Location: 34.2324409, -117.6100388

©Casey Schreiner

Eastern approach to Ontario

Location: 34.229332, -117.617218

©Casey Schreiner

The summit of Ontario Peak

Location: 34.2277489, -117.6243362

©Casey Schreiner

Baldy Bowl from Ontario

Location: 34.2279205, -117.6234894

©Casey Schreiner