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Bighorn Mountains

31 December 1966

By: Bob Van Allen

During the holidays, we made several family trips to various parts of our HPS area. One of the peaks we ascended is worthy of additional comment.

Of the few people I know who have made this peak, most refer to ascents from the east by hiking a road which leads almost to the summit. A more challenging (and more interesting) trip is made if one approaches the peak from Rattlesnake Canyon to the west.

Refer to the Old Woman Springs quad. Drive east from Lucerne Valley to the Old Woman Springs turnoff (unmarked). Turn right. Just before entering the ranch, turn left and proceed 100 yards, turn right onto a road which enters what appears to be a canyon mouth. This is really where Arrastre Creek cuts the hills. The next 1-2 miles is very soft, deep sand. VW bus or 4-wheel drive only should be used. VW bugs and squarebacks may not have the clearance required later. After the soft sand you reach a hard, rocky section for another 2 miles until you come to BM 3659. Turn right into the creek (steep drop off) and head for the obvious mouth of Rattlesnake Canyon. Shortly after entering the canyon, there is a wire fence gate. Between this gate and where you drop into the creek, the "road bed" is fair (about 1 mile).

From that gate on, it is 4+ miles, all bad. Stretches are encountered for a hundred yards at a time where the sand is hub cap deep (occasionally mixed with rocks from small to 1-2 cu. ft.) If you don't have a 4 WD, or in other words you use a VW bus, be prepared to do a little pushing going in (just ask Joyce or Jim); coming out (downgrade) is O.K. Continue up the canyon to the fork in the road at 4590'. This is the end of VW travel; 4 WD may continue up the left fork to the cabin at 4940'. From the fork to the cabin is probably the best stretch of road on the whole trip, but the left turn at the fork involves a 3-4' creek side wall.

From the cabin (really what used to be a cabin), proceed up the draw to the left (NE). From here you can choose several variations in gaining the summit. The register is at the North end. We chose a route which took us to the high point at 5913' first and then traversed to the register at 5894' (our official HPS elevation).

From the 4590' fork it is a 3+ hour round trip (including the high point). Two hours 15 minutes up, 45 minutes down. The driving is another matter -- 19 miles of some of the worst HPS driving I have seen.

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