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Toro Peak, Santa Rosa Mountain

20 April 1996 (Private Trip)

By: John Connelly

Many years ago, the Hundred Peaks Section de-listed Toro Peak due to access restrictions. The peak is on the Santa Rosa Indian Reservation, and evidently tribal policy prohibited public access. Subsequently, the tribe leased the summit area to private operators to install telecommunications equipment on this fine 8716-foot summit.

I would propose that the time has come for the Hundred Peaks Section to return Toro Peak to the list. As the highest peak in the Santa Rosas, it rightfully deserves inclusion. From the side of Cuyamaca Peak, not to mention many other places, Toro Peak simply dominates the skyline ridge of the Santa Rosas.

On April 20, Judy Ware and I hiked up the dirt road to do both Santa Rosa Mountain and Toro Peak. The road is not great but most passenger cars could likely take the insults and abuse to do this as a driveup. We parked my 4Runner at mile seven and hiked the next 3-plus miles to Santa Rosa Mountain. We then continued on the road another 3 miles or so to Toro Peak. The road's terminus is about a half mile from the summit, where there is a locked gate, but no signs indicating that the peak is off limits. The only "No Trespassing" sign we saw was on the door of one of the buildings near the summit. Other hikers had parked their cars at a wide turnout near the locked gate to do the summit.

Even with all the paraphernalia on the peak, it is a wonderful place to view the sights in every direction - the San Jacintos and the San Gorgonio ridge to the north, the Salton Sea and Palm Springs on the East. Rabbit and Villager, and the Borrego badlands could be seen off to the Southeast. You get the idea. Near the parking area in front of the locked gate, Sheep Mountain was near at hand.

We also walked past at least two campgrounds, which would be ideal for HPS-style car camping. On April 20, they were both deserted. There is no water and only a few tables.

I also called the Ranger Station in Idyllwild, and the person I talked with had no knowledge of any restriction on accessing the summit, although he was aware that the peak was inside the Reservation.

There is also a cross country route, which is preferred by Allen Holden, who leads many HPS peaks for the San Diego Chapter. He drives in to the HPS trailhead for Sheep and Martinez, then drives further south on a 4WD road another 3-4 miles. He hikes south, up the broad ridge to the road near "Stump Spring." (The map shows a campground near the spring, but we did not see any evidence of one at the spot indicated on the topo).

I hope this will encourage others to give Toro Peak a try - either as a hike or a drive-up. Perhaps the Section can revisit its de-listing of this peak.

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