This Saturday morning I finished hike number 13/52 for the 52 Hike Challenge in 2015, and have now completed 103 of my goal of 1000 miles for this year. My initial plan was to hike Mt. Wilson via Mt. Wilson Trail in Sierra Madre, but a forecast of rain pushed that hike until Sunday. Luckily, the storm wasn’t set to hit much further east until late in the day, so I decided it would be good to head east and try a new trail. After a quick search online, I came across Black Mountain, which is just south of Banning on SR 243 on the way to Idyllwild. This hike is 7.25 miles roundtrip with 2700ft of elevation gain.
After driving for 12 miles on SR 243 we saw the sign for Black Mountain trail and proceeded on the short dirt road to the parking lot at the trailhead. There was only one other vehicle in the parking lot, which is always nice to see. Julia and I got Isla and Lilly in their hiking harnesses and made our way onto the trail.
The trail itself started out as sandy, with slabs of smooth rock underneath. There wasn’t much shade initially, but the exposure cut out after a short while. Isla has just recently developed a fascination with small boulders. I’m not sure how she got it in her head that dogs can climb, but she tries to scale anything she can jump on.
After about 3 miles of hiking you get the best views of Black Mountain, and can see the density of conifers that give it it’s name. The smells from the Fir and Pine trees were incredible on this warm winter day. The trail also starts to gain in steepness at this point. After climbing for a short while we came across a few trail signs and a faint fork. Straight ahead was the access road that opens in the summer, we veered right on the trail to the summit.
At this point we noticed the first traces of snow and ice. It’s only in small patches of shade, so no precautions were necessary to accommodate for this. The final views as we approached the top were like something out of a movie. It was pretty cool to see the lookout tower at the summit with sprawling views of Southern California.
We spent some time relaxing at the top while the dogs rehydrated and ate some snacks. The views of San Jacinto were great, and we could see the storm clouds looming far out west. After we had taken in the views and explored the summit a bit, we made our way back down to the car for our journey back home.