Google Earth Overview of Rattlesnake Peak Loop Route.
The Road to Nowhere
(Shoemaker Canyon Road, Convict Road, yada yada...)
View of Shoemaker Canyon Road and the tunnels north terminus.
Leaving Shoemaker Canyon Road
Jeremy, looking south along the use trail leading up to Rattlesnake Peak's east ridge.
A half mile later, we reached the second tunnel and shortly after its end, the road disappears and a single track takes its place. We knew based on previous experience and research that we would need to ascend the ridge soon. The next gully brought us to our GPS coordinate (3.25 miles, 1578 feet climbed) and although we should have just followed it up to the ridge, our curiosity got the best of us. The single track path that continued east at the same elevation was extremely well maintained and lead us to believe there could have been a well carved out path up to the ridge.
Rattlesnake Peak's East Ridge
Jeremy, looking back at what we had already ascended.
Gaining the ridge offered a pleasant change in scenery. The San Gabriel River rushed along the canyon floor while Iron Mountain loomed silently above. A snow capped Mount Baldy occasionally materialized above low clouds. The next thousand feet would prove to be a circuitous mess of chaparral. I would take one seemingly promising animal path and Jeremy would take another. I recall staring blankly into an abyss of buck thorn and deeply questioning the logic of all the life decisions that brought me to this point, yet any internal doubt would quickly be put to rest by the sound of breaking branches and cursing coming from Jeremy less than fifty feet away. It was every man for himself.
East Ridge Plateau (4.690 ft)
Jeremy, reaching the treeline.
Reaching the ridge plateau placed us at the halfway mark for the ascent since leaving the road, but also exposed to the chilling winds. Although It never actually rained, the amount of moisture falling from each shaken branch left us completely soaked. We took a quick break to enjoy a snack and admire the now completely visible Bridge to Nowhere just northeast of us in the bottom of the canyon. There was just one more saddle before the final ascent and even in the brisk air, a cold beer sounded proper.
Rattlesnake Peak (5,820 ft)
Nearing the summit of Rattlesnake Peak.
Reaching the saddle (5,370 ft) meant we were less than 500 ft from the summit and it was starting to feel like we were in the high country. Thick chaparral was replaced with granite boulders and pines along the northern aspect of the ridge leading into Rattlesnake Canyon. To our surprise, It started to snow; an odd but pleasant occurrence. The final stretch up the summit was extremely tame and by 11:30 AM, our goal was met. We had made the summit of Rattlesnake Peak via its east ridge for the second time. We spent roughly an hour celebrating our accomplishment over several beers while staring off into the surrounding canyons, reminiscing over past treks and plotting new endeavors before making way down the much less rugged Rattlesnake Peak trail.
View of Iron Mountain and Mount Baldy from the summit of Rattlesnake Peak.
Panoramic shot of the Sheep Mountain Wilderness.
Fire road for the first 3.25 miles.
Well maintained use trail up to the ridge.
Class 2 cross country travel for remainder of ridge line ascent with roughly one mile of circuitous route finding through thick chaparral.
GPS Coordinates (leaving the trail for the ridge)
Decimal Degrees Minutes: 34°15'43.6"N 117°45'24.1"W
Decimal Degrees: 34.262100, -117.756700