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See the Retired Peak Guides in the Archives for Microsoft Word and other versions of this peak guide.

32B

Whale Peak

5349'

Location: San Diego County, about 17 miles east-southeast of Julian, 156 miles from Los Angeles

Maps

Auto Club: San Diego County
Forest Service: Cleveland National Forest
USGS Topo: Whale Peak 7½
HPS (updated): National Geographic Topo!
HPS (old version): Route(s), waypoints and explanation of usage

Printable version of this route

ROUTE 1

Distance: 8 miles round trip cross-country
Gain: 2300'
Time: 6-7 hours round trip
Rating: Class 2, moderate to strenuous
Navigation: Difficult

Original: Southern Courtney and Brent Washburne, April 1991

DRIVING ROUTE 1

  • Take I-15 south to Temecula.
  • Go southeast on SR 79 about 38 miles to Warner Springs.
  • Continue 3 miles on SR 79 to the intersection with S2 on the left. Turn left.
  • Go southeast on S2 about 17 miles to SR 78 (Scissors Crossing).
  • Jog 1/3 mile west on SR 78 (right) and continue on S2 for 6.0 miles to a dirt road on the left (east) signed "Blair Valley". This is just before mile marker 23. Note your odometer and go as follows:
  • At 0.1 mile, a fork. Go right. (Do not take the hard right turn to the restroom.)
  • At 1.4 miles, fork signed "Pictographs". Keep right.
  • At 2.6 miles, fork. Keep right.
  • At 3.0 miles, fork signed "Pictographs". Keep left.
  • At 3.3 miles, fork signed "Pictographs". Keep left.
  • At 3.9 miles, Mortreros, an ancient Indian Village. Keep straight.
  • At 4.0 miles, fork signed "Pictographs". Keep right.
  • At 5.3 miles the road ends at a turn-around. Park here.

HIKING ROUTE 1

  • From the parking area (3120'), hike east along a trail about ¾ mile to the pictographs.
  • Turn left (north) and hike a second mile up the wide draw (labeled "Smuggler Canyon" on the topo) around to the end of the ridge descending from Whale Peak.
  • Then go east-northeast into a canyon that descends from the mountain. (The canyon isn't evident against a hillside of rocks, but the wash out of the canyon is evident.)
  • Ascend the canyon ¾ mile to about 4300' and find ducks on a big rock on the right side of the canyon. There are some class 2+ dry falls in the gully above about 3800', easier to descend than to ascend.
  • Climb steeply southeast up the side draw above the rocks to the flat area at 5000' where you intercept the trail for Route 2. (It is perhaps easier, though a bit longer, to continue NE up to the top of the gully to intercept the trail for Route 2.)

ALTERNATE ROUTE

There are other possible routes to the summit starting from the "pictographs" including from the south of the summit.


Printable version of this route

ROUTE 2

Distance: 9 miles round trip on road cross-country (from 2WD parking)
Gain: 2100'
Time: 5-6 hours round trip
Rating: Class 1, moderate
Navigation: Difficult

Original: Henry Heusinkveld, October 1969

DRIVING ROUTE 2

  • Take I-15 south to Temecula.
  • Go southeast on SR 79 to Warner Springs.
  • Continue 3 miles on SR 79 to the intersection with S2 on the left. Turn left.
  • Go southeast on S2 about 17 miles to SR 78 (Scissors Crossing).
  • Jog 1/3 mile west on SR 78 (right) and continue on S2 for 4.4 miles to the State Park boundary. Turn left on Pinyon Mountain Road (dirt).
  • Note your odometer and go as follows:
  • Keep right at an immediate fork.
  • At 3.8 miles, large rocks in the road. This will be a problem for most vehicles. Vehicles other than high clearance 4WD may high center on rocks.
  • At 4.3 miles, fork. Keep right. Just past this spot is a fork to the right and a flat area suitable for camping. Continue straight at this fork.
  • At 5.7 miles, a fork. Turn right.
  • At 6.0 miles, a parking area at the end of the road. Park here 4120').

HIKING ROUTE 2

  • From the parking area (3500') hike on the road described in the driving directions to the 4WD parking area.
  • Hike south up a short canyon to a large level area.
  • Cross this area in a southeast direction toward the visible ridge.
  • A ducked route on this ridge goes up to the left around its east end to another flat area.
  • Head south across this and follow the occasionally ducked route up and around the ridges on the left to 4640', the head of Smugglers Canyon, which drops off to the right.
  • Follow the ducks south up the side of the ridge ahead to about 4800'. Then change direction to southeast and enter a little grassy valley that runs parallel to the Whale Peak ridge. There is a sandy path leading across it directly eastwards to a point just below the west-northwest side of the peak.
  • Climb up the slope to the saddle due west of the peak at 5150'. From here go east up to the summit plateau and then to the summit boulder at the east end of the plateau. The sign-in register is often located inside a rock shelter at the base of the summit boulder.
  • The use trail is difficult to follow in places. There are many ducked routes that apparently go nowhere.

NOTES

The peak is located in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

SPECIAL CONDITIONS

The ducks described may or may not be in place. With the passage of time ducks disappear or are destroyed. There may ducked routes which are not the correct route.

History of Summit Signature

Climbing Archives

Please report any corrections or changes to the Mountain Records Chair.


Hundred Peaks Section, Angeles Chapter, Sierra Club
Published 15-May-2009
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