Summary: This is an incredibly easy hike. The first mile and a quarter is on a well graded, steady uphill road that any member of the family should be able to walk with a little bit of effort. The last quarter mile is quite a bit steeper, but should provide the feeling of attaining a peak, especially for a small child.
The only problem with this hike, besides walking on a road the whole way, is the ugly, smelly, noisy and unsightly military outpost on the top. I read that this was once a craggy peak in the 70's. It is a shame that anyone was allowed to put radio towers atop this peak.
The view is perhaps the best in Southern California. From here you can see the entire Salton Sea, San Jacinto, San Gorgonio, Angeles NF, Cleveland National Forest, The Cuyamacas, Anza-Borrego, Joshua Tree, and much much more. It would be a 360' panorama without the towers in the way. Still the view is superb. I spent my time looking away from the towers.
Trailhead: Take Highway 74 East from Hemet about 22 miles. You will pass through lovely Garner Valley, and get great views of the Desert Divide. San Jacinto and Tahquitz. The roads in the Santa Rosas are remarkably signed, so you should have no trouble finding the turnoff to Santa Rosa Road. If you have a low-clearance vehicle, you will have a slow time, and maybe wish you had four wheel drive. The dirt road winds up the mountain for 11.5 miles to a locked gate. Park here and walk a mile and a quarter up the road to another locked gate where you finish the steep ascent to the peak, past some ugly and noisy military junk. (Lat:35.52347 Lon:-116.4257)
Trail Guides for El Toro Peak:
San Bernardino Mountain Trails - 100 Hikes in Southern California
by John W. Robinson (Wilderness Press)
Best Seasons: Year-Round
User Groups: Hikers, Dogs, Bikes,
Ranger Contact: SBNF (909)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 Page 1 of 2 Submit your own review
Reviewed by Mike on 6/13/2012
I made the clime twice in 1955, once in the summer and then in Nov. as a 8 year old kid with my dad. Always parked at the dead in in Virgen Springs and hiked into Horththief Creek and Black rabbit Canyon. We climed to the top twice from down there. there used to be a registry on top you could sign. No roads to the top that were easy then and no towers. I love those Mts. and still go there now and then, but they are not as primative as they used to be.
Reviewed by RWP on 3/29/2012
Very pretty view. I used to maintain one of the towers here and a couple on Santa Rosa mountian (just below toro) as well. Miss that job.
Reviewed by A**hole on 9/4/2010
It seems that Allen Riedel can bitch about the equipment on top of this hill while enjoying the hike up the road that was put in to service the equipment! Ya can't have it both ways pal!
Reviewed by Mike on 6/26/2010
The tower was there forty years ago. My father drove us all the way up there in a 4x4 when I was 5. At that time, there was also the wreckage of two military helicopters strewn about.
Reviewed by Gisela on 11/15/2008
Not as easy as it sounds, but so very much worth the effort once you get to the top and can see for miles all around! We were there yesterday on a very clear day and could even see a small portion of the Pacific glistening in the late afternoon sun.
Reviewed by Grampz on 6/10/2007
This is NOT a year-round destination. There have been many winters where the last 10 miles of road to Toro Peak has been blocked by snow drifts for six months or more. The road is on the north side of the ridge and snow stays and builds into impassable drifts. I would definately say this is a late spring to autumn destination only, unless you have a sno-cat or helicopter! Been there, done that! Great summertime camping spots on the mountain. At this elevation, you'll have temperate days and cool nights even in mid-summer.
Reviewed by TC on 2/20/2007
I agree that the towers and antennas really do detract from any beauty at the top of this peak. The view outward is nice, but it's too bad that technology has soiled what should be a pristine mountain peak.
Reviewed by M.L. on 1/10/2007
Unfortunate that the author's fixation with the electronic site and equipment detracts from this report. The site is a very important relay location for many government and commercial entities. I find the stories behind the development and operation interesting. As a citizen of the local area, and apparently a full-fledged user of modern technology and communications, the author has little room to whine repeatedly about the installation. I'm sure his very own voice/data has been relayed through here. It was originally built as a microwave relay for telephone but that operation ceased with the establishment of fiberoptic routes along the highways below. Current users include county, state, and federal agencies. Utilities and media too.
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