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See the Retired Peak Guides in the Archives for Microsoft Word and other versions of this peak guide.


Sheep Mountain


Location: Riverside County, about 9 miles south of Palm Desert, 129 miles from Los Angeles


Auto ClubRiverside County
Forest ServiceSan Bernardino National Forest
USGS TopoToro Peak 7½
Official HPS Maps TPO file - Save to your computer then open with National Geographic TOPO!
 Viewable PDF file - Approximately 3.3 megs
 GPX file or Google Earth KML file to download to GPS units and other map software (How to use GPX and KML files)
 Routes as shown on CalTopo using the above files (How to use CalTopo)
Nearby Peaks: Martinez Mountain

Printable version of this route

ROUTE 1 - Cactus Spring Trail

Seasonal Closure: Sheep Mountain and Martinez Mountain are subject to a voluntary seasonal closure to protect bighorn sheep habitat, except for the months of October, November, and December. This seasonal closure may become permanent at some time in the future.

Distance: 13 miles round trip on trail and cross-country
Gain: 2900' total, 2100' out plus 800' on return
Time: 6-7 hours round trip
Rating: Class 1, strenuous
Navigation: Difficult
Leader Rating: "I", normal conditions

Original: Bill T. Russell, June 1973


From the west:

  • Take I-10 east to SR 79 in Beaumont.
  • Go south on SR 79 to the Ramona Expressway. Turn left (east).
  • Go east and then southeast on the Ramona Expressway until it ends at SR 74. Turn left (east).
  • Go east on SR 74 to Mountain Center (junction with Idyllwild Highway - SR 243).
  • Continue east on SR 74 for about 21.5 miles to a paved road (7S06) at a sign "Cactus Spring Trail". This is just across from the entrance to Pinyon Flat Campground.
  • Go south 1/4 mile to the (paved) "Sawmill Trailhead" parking lot.

From the north:

  • Travel east on I-10 to its interchange with Monterey Avenue near Palm Desert. Exit right (south) on Monterey. Reset your odometer.
  • At 6.0 miles, Monterey crosses 111 in Palm Desert and becomes SR 74. Continue straight.
  • At 21.3 miles, turn left (southeast) on a paved road (7S06) at a sign "Cactus Spring Trail". This is just across from the entrance to Pinyon Flat Campground.
  • Go south 1/4 mile to the (paved) "Sawmill Trailhead" parking lot.


  • From the parking area (4040'), hike east along the road to an intersection.
  • Continue straight ahead at the beginning of the Cactus Spring Trail. This is shown as a short road segment on the topo. Hike along the trail as it goes right at a fork and descends to a road near an old dolomite mine.
  • Turn left (east) on this road and follow it past the mine to where the trail leaves the road. This is the old trailhead. Continue east on the trail as it goes over several rises and then descends to Horse Thief Creek near BM 3492.
  • Follow it across the creek as it climbs over a hill to avoid a waterfall and then descends back into a wash.
  • Follow it east along this wash to Cactus Spring (usually dry). Leave the trail here and go north-northeast passing to the left of bump 4678' and then across bump 5067'.
  • Descend through a saddle and then go north past a false summit to the peak.


This peak is often combined with Martinez Mountain. From the summit of Martinez, descend either gully, just north or just south of the peak, to about 4800' where they almost come together. From here hike northwest cross-country passing south of bump 5122' and north of bump 5027' and on to bump 5067'. From here turn right (north) and continue as above.

The statistics for both peaks when done as a single hike are 18 miles and 5500' gain (very strenuous).


Both Sheep Mountain and Martinez Mountain are in the Santa Rosa Wilderness, but your sign-in at a wilderness register box near the beginning of the Cactus Spring Trail currently replaces the usual wilderness permit process for both day hikes and overnight trips.

History of Summit Signature

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Please report any corrections or changes to the Mountain Records Chair.

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