From afar, San Mateo Peak stands little more than a chaparral green-laced bump on the long hog-back ridge overlooking Lake Elsinore on the steep eastern escarpment of the Santa Ana Mountains. Upon closer inspection though, the mountain manifests itself in natural splendor ringed at the trailhead by a community of old growth Coast Live Oaks, and scattered on the higher slopes are pristine examples of coastal chaparral including chamise, chaparral yucca, laurel sumac, and black sage. It is a wilderness setting that is uncommon along the coastal ranges of Southern California, offering a glimpse into a world that used to be.
Elevation Gain: 1000'
Location: Cleveland National Forest, San Mateo Canyon Wilderness
The Hike: From the trailhead, cross the grassy field onto the un-named trail, and follow it south as it traverses through a majestic stand of oaks. As the path takes a dramatic hairpin turn and crosses the stream-bed, look for the marked route to San Mateo Peak on your left-hand side. The use-trail up the to the summit is obvious for the most part but overgrown in some places. About a quarter of the way up, a spur trail leads to Peak 3064, obviously manifest by an odd collection of flags and linens lined atop. Back on the path to the peak, the trail makes a few dips before passing a number of false summits to the actual highpoint, topped by a Class 3 boulder. Enjoy the view atop the San Mateo Canyon Wilderness, into Orange County and across to San Gorgonio Mountain, and return the way you came.
Hiked 1/18/2018. Riverside County, CA. No Adventure Pass Required.
|San Mateo hill country|
|Unnamed trail south|
|San Mateo Peak sign|
|Summit of Peak 3064|
|Odd dino markers|