Hot Springs Mountain
How to get there:
Locate Hwy. 79, branching east, then south from I-15 near Temecula. Follow Hwy. 79 south to near a place called Warner Springs, this is still north of Santa Ysabel where Hwy. 79 meets Hwy. 78.
Get onto Camino San Ignacio just as Hwy. 79 makes a big bend (in Warner Springs). Continue until you reach Los Coyotes Police Department (on the right hand side of the road). There are road stop signs here informing that any further access is subject to permission only. Either call ahead or visit in a weekend, one must make certain that the office is open.
To proceed to the campground, from where one may hike up to the peak, or to get permission to drive up to the summit, cost 10 USD (2018).
The driving route starts by turning sharp left onto the mountain road about 100 meter after the police check-point. Follow the road all the way to parking at the very top. This road requires 4WD and it was (2018) quite rough in a couple of spots.
The best hiking route is likely to follow another forest road that heads towards the summit area, starting from the camping area, see above.
After arriving at the parking area on the summit, one should visit the two local tops. The first, and most visible is the location of the look-out tower. This tower has been partially destroyed. The highest point in this area is a huge boulder at the end of the short ridge, it looks difficult to climb. (I did not check the other side of it.)
Fortunately, the rock mentioned above need not be climbed, since the highest point of the mountain is located at the second local top, on the opposite side of the summit parking area. A small trail marked with micro-flags, will lead you there. The distance is only a few hundred meter.
Surprisingly, this highest point do also have a big boulder that defines the highest point. Fortunately, it can be climbed in two different ways along routes that are (YDS) class 3. The first route, proceed along the rock until you see a very big crack that runs back and up. If you climb up/into this crack you will arrive on a shelf that can be followed to a point where one can turn left and ascend to easier ground. There are a few old metal bolts that may be used for added safety.
The second route, starts even further along, turn the rock and find an area with more broken terrain and segments of rock that may be ascended. One needs to cross a crack here and arrive at a spot from where there is one steep, but very short passage to gain the upper part of the boulder.
I arrived at the police check-point around 1100. The officer was very helpful, he collected the USD 10 fee for access, then drove ahead of me uo to the gate in order to get it unlocked. I continued driving, at first the road was really smooth and I thought that almost any type of car would be able to drive up here. However, higher up this road turned quite rough in a few spots. It was definitely important to have a capable 4WD (I drove a Jeep Wrangler). I was at the summit parking (only car) at 1145.
I first walked up to the fire-lookout, then headed across to the true summit. The climb up was easy, I used the crack followed by the shelf. A couple of long slings had been tied to the bolts to provide access for non-climbers. This was a very nice spot and I sat on the summit for quite some time.
After walking back to the parking, I ran into Robeto and his son, they had hiked up from the campground. I started drving down at 1300. This was the last peak on my weekend, now back to LA.v