Summary: This is a great off-trail wilderness trek for beginners. It would be nearly impossible to get lost, since El Toro Peak is the highest thing around for miles. So should your direction sense fail you, you could always just go in the direction of the highest peak. Simple, however, you should bring a compass just in case, or a GPS if you are so lucky.
If you like solitude, and a lack of trails, this is the place for you. There is a lot of chaparral, so watch the legs. It is impossible to stay on the old Cahuilla Indian trail. I lost and found it more times than I could count.
The beauty of this hike is the fact that there really isn't a destination. Pick a crag or valley from high up that you want to shoot for and then go there. It is easy to see all spots on the bench from high up, so you can pick and choose, and watch how difficult your hike back up will be.
On the way back there are several roads that lead to the main road, which makes the return even easier.
Trailhead: Drive 22 miles east of Hemet on Highway 74. Turn right onto Santa Rosa Mountain Road. Follow this road - always take the main path for 11.5 miles to a locked gate. Here you will follow the road until you come to another locked gate that lead to El Toro Peak. Instead of climbing the peak, continue straight. Here you will see the start of a wilderness trail, that will quickly become wilderness.
I took both of these trips in one day, and if you are so inclined, do Toro Peak first, then head on to the bench. (Lat:33.51176 Lon:-116.40049)
Trail Guides for Alta Seca Bench:
San Bernardino Mountain Trails - 100 Hikes in Southern California
by John W. Robinson (Wilderness Press)
Best Seasons: Year-Round
User Groups: Hikers, Dogs,
Ranger Contact: SBNF (951) 383-5588
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Allen Riedel, who has posted 123 other hikes on this site. To visit this reporters web site, click here.
Trail Reviews Submit your own review
Reviewed by SDRider on 1/31/2005
Tried to go up there Sunday Jan 30 2005 for some snow hiking. Road was closed. Called the rangers office, and they said it is "due to icy conditions." He also said a forensics team was investigating a body and a car found there Saturday. Anybody know anything about this?
Reviewed by sunburn on 1/14/2004
Awesome hike....i always cut through here on my way down Nicholas canyon.
Notice: Traveling in the backcountry can be hazardous. You are responsible for informing yourself about these hazards and taking necessary precautions. Information on this web site comes from volunteer reporters and may contain errors or omissions. A current guidebook and proper equipment are essential for safe enjoyment of the hikes posted on this site.
Keys: California Hiking, California Trails, California Hikes, Riverside County Hiking, Riverside County Trails, Riverside County Hikes