Red Rock Mountain
By: Gabriele Rau
With Hugh Blanchard, Mark
Hugh had offered to show me the trail to Red Rock Mountain, deleted from the Lower Peaks List, for possible putting it on the List again. We met 9:00 in La Canada and exited to the Templin Hwy on I-5. After 4.3 m (after the bridge) we encountered a locked gate, but Hugh had a key for it. After 0.6 m the pavements ends, 0.2 m take left fork (Fish Canyon), after 0.1 m again left. There are 4 stream crossing, easily passable. Shortly there was another locked gate, many locks, but the key did not fit any lock. So we parked the car and hiked in about a mile to Cienaga Campground. We hiked through the narrows, very impressive narrow canyon. There are many stream crossings on concrete aprons, easy to pass. The campground was junky. At the end of the campground a trail turns to the left behind an old rusty gate, which is actually an old road to the piano box mine. This is again a pretty walk, several crossings again. At the mine located to the right of an old huge oak tree we took a break. It was a very hot day and Hugh mentioned, if I wanted to return any time, I should say so. Up to here the hike was flat. We crossed the stream and hiked up a barely visible trail near a sycamore tree, steep, with poison oak which we avoided as best as possible. The trail gets somewhat better in the higher reaches. It climbs steadily in switchbacks, sometimes ducked by Tom Hill and Hugh on a previous hike. An occasional tree provided shade for a break because it was getting hotter and hotter. It must have been in the high 90’s. At the high point of the trail I decided not to climb another sunny 1000’ to the peak, x-country and steep. It is only ½ mile to the right, but no trail. It was already 12:30, very hot and I had finished more than half of my water. Hugh agreed readily to go back, Mark also. We took a break. The trail continues downhill. We took the trail back downhill again, to the piano box mine and the campground. When we reached the car I had finished my water, so had Mark. Water was available in Fish Creek. We drove back to Glendale and home. I was glad not to have continued, I would have had a heat stroke, I think!
Otherwise this is a pretty hike. The piano box mine is called that way because once the miners brought a piano to a mine settlement! Hard to believe. Mark thinks he drove on the road to the pianobox 30 years ago, but now it is not drivable any more. Hugh knows this area very well. The trail reminds me of the Warm Springs Mountain Trail, which is even more overgrown. Thanks Hugh for going with us and showing us the way! On a cooler day we would have made the peak. We hiked about 7 m (because the second gate was locked, 1000’. We try this one again!
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