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
- Distance: 22.4
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.
Location: 34.2489357, -117.6218109
Bear right @ the Y-junction, heading east on Icehouse Canyon Trail.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Location: 34.2419205, -117.5998611
Keep right @ Y-junction.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Location: 34.2314262, -117.6126938
Head west through another large section of dead trees.
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.
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.
Location: 34.250248, -117.63694
Trail cuts into Icehouse Canyon
Location: 34.2501335, -117.634964
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Ruined cabin foundation
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Rockier trail in upper Icehouse
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First portion of saddle ascent
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Location: 34.2434082, -117.6048355
Hikers rest at Icehouse Saddle.
Location: 34.239563, -117.5946045
The Ontario Peak Trail
Location: 34.2386634, -117.5939655
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Final ascent to the ridge
Location: 34.2318764, -117.6071014
The trail to Bighorn Peak
Location: 34.2312546, -117.6059647
Location: 34.2322159, -117.600029
View of Ontario from Bighorn
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Approaching Bighorn’s summit
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Dead trees on Ontario’s north slope
Location: 34.2324409, -117.6100388
Eastern approach to Ontario
Location: 34.229332, -117.617218
The summit of Ontario Peak
Location: 34.2277489, -117.6243362
Baldy Bowl from Ontario
Location: 34.2279205, -117.6234894