22 August 2014

Winston Peak

Angeles National Forest

Locate the trailhead.

I have plans for wandering up three more mountains after hitting the five while backpacking, but since I am half a day late out of that, I will just go up Winston Peak. This one first came to my attention as I looped down to Cooper Canyon and then back up along the Pacific Crest Trail. There is a very clear use trail climbing it from a saddle on the far side that the PCT also passes through. Parking at Cloudburst Summit, where the PCT crosses the road again, there is another route up following an old logging road next to the trail. There is a well used track on this side of the mountain as well. The track quickly leaves the old road, first to cut a long loop, then fully to climb the peak.

rocks and trees
Admittedly, there is no real need for a track or trail to climb this peak. The area is very open and walkable.

a pair of grasshoppers
A pair of grasshoppers.

grey line in the pine needles
The trail is very well used.

The trail is well enough used that it looks like it could be official. There are even cut trees along it. This is only a reflection of the amount of use the trail gets. The wide top has a few outcrops of rocks, one of which is higher than the others. It is easy to clamber up to the top of these if one feels the need to sit at the very top of the peak, so I do. Trees obscure the views.

Winston Peak
A pyramidal collection of rocks at the very top of Winston Peak.

Continuing along the trail, there does get to be a couple good spots to look out on the view. An outcrop on the left looks out over Squaw Canyon with little obscuring by the trees. It takes a few hundred feet more walking to find a good lookout over Cooper Canyon.

Squaw Canyon
Looking down into Squaw Canyon, which feeds into Little Rock Creek's south fork. Little Rock Canyon Road winds along on the far side of Pleasant View Ridge Wilderness.

Cooper Canyon
Looking down into Cooper Canyon, which feeds into Little Rock Creek's main fork on the other side of the short ridge.

The trail continues to drop down the far side of the peak, then suddenly becomes very steep with poor footing. I can see footprints coming up it, but it looks like a slog with one section of highly likely to slide back down when the trail is gravel over a steep rock. Some users have tried to add switchbacks, but some of it is a bottleneck between rocks and does not allow for such luxury. This is the trail I saw before from the saddle.

gravel over rocks
A section of slip and slide as the trail passes over a steep rock covered in gravel.

Pacific Crest Trail at a saddle
After a long down, the trail is a few yards off from the PCT at a saddle.

The trail crosses the saddle and then climbs the far side while small trails cross between it and the PCT. A marker about to be buried in manzanita helps marks the PCT as it travels down into Cooper Canyon. Both Winston Peak and Winston Ridge, where the use trail is directed, are on the Hundred Peaks Section peaks list. I have run out of time for the day's hike and turn back to follow the PCT back. When it meets the service road from Cooper Canyon Camp, I turn up that because, counter intuitively, the road is shorter.

Cooper Canyon
Another look down into Cooper Canyon.

©2014 Valerie Norton
Posted 1 September 2014

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