Combs Peak – Peak #15

Elevation: 6,193′
Miles: 4.7
Trailhead

This was my first 100 Peaks hike with an adult companion, Robb Boyle, another adventure blogger and peakbagger who wanted a change from the charred slopes of Angeles National Forest. It was nice to be able to chat about our respective experiences along the trails. The peaks is also listed on the Sierra Club’s Hundred Peaks Section. The miles flew by quickly and I nearly forgot to take notes about the route.

After meeting an a Park and Ride, we had a foggy drive through southern Temecula, Warner Springs, and about 4 miles on a dirt road,  and arrived at the trailhead. On the way, we encountered a buck and a doe just off the road.

A buck along Lost Valley Road

A buck along Lost Valley Road

The doe peeking at us

The doe peeking at us

The air felt a little chilly as we got started on the Pacific Crest Trail. Just about 100 feet from the trailhead, we found a cache of water for PCT thru-hikers, as well as a register for those who are making the attempt. There is very little water available in this section of the PCT at any time of the year, so it was not surprising to find water here at this junction.

PCT Thru-Hiker Water Cache

PCT Thru-Hiker Water Cache

There was still evidence of the 2003 Coyote Fire that swept through the area. Burnt trees rose like charred telephone poles, lining the trail to the saddle. Other plants, such as small oaks, were definitely healthy and have made a comeback, covered with acorns.

Burnt Tree with Combs Peak behind

Burnt Tree with Combs Peak behind

Acorn

Acorn

The trail slowly climbed towards a saddle, following the contour of the mountain. Almost immediately after starting the trail, we were presented with amazing views to the northeast of the Santa Rosa Mountains, which is topped by Toro Peak. It was a gentle and easily-to-follow trail. We gained about 550′ to the saddle without even feeling it. Plus, it was nice to start a hike without it being already 90 degrees.

Looking back along the trail

Looking back along the trail

The Santa Rosa Mountains, with Toro Peak to the right

The Santa Rosa Mountains, with Toro Peak to the right

We got to the saddle and easily found the large cairn that marks the path to the summit. The remaining 600′ of elevation gain took place in the last 1/3 of a mile, much of it through thorny brush and loose soil. I saw something tiny run into the brush at my feet and I looked down and saw a red horned lizard. It was the perfect color to match the rocks that studded the mountainside.

Red Horned Lizard on the Combs Peak summit scramble

Red Horned Lizard on the Combs Peak summit scramble

We kept an eye out for more ducks and found them here and there. Robb found a geocache about a hundred feet from the summit and added his own treasure.

Robb investigating the geocache

Robb investigating the geocache on the edge of the world

We then climbed for a minute and were on the summit. We found two benchmarks, a summit register with a sign, as well as a panoramic view. We could see all the way to San Gorgonio, San Jacinto, Santiagio Peak, Lake Henshaw, Palomar Mountain, and the Lost Valley Boy Scout Camp. The peak was adorned with several beautiful manzanita specimens which appeared to have been spared by the fire. We had a snack, drank in the view and headed back down.

The Benchmark at Combs Peak

The Benchmark at Combs Peak

The summit register and a sign that appears to be between lovers

The summit register and a sign that appears to be between lovers

The view down into Lost Valley

The view down into Lost Valley

A manazanita on the summit

A manzanita on the summit

Combs Peak Trail Map

Combs Peak Trail Map (Click to enlarge)

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Comments

  1. jessica says

    that is gorgeous. i assume you will probably ascend San Ysidro Mountain 6,147′, to the southeast of Comb’s Peak, on the other side of Hot Springs Mtn? I read there is a trailhead, but not much of a trail, and that you can often see bighorn sheep. I have a goal of ascending at least the peaks over 6,000′.

  2. says

    Yes, I do intend on climbing that peak, but may wait for cooler times and perhaps a weekend of camping out in Anza-Borrego…

  3. says

    I take it back, I am going to try to do that mountain, with a handful of others, from the south, during a longer day hike. Preferably on a day without snow.

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