If you want a great Angeles National Forest mountain hike without the crowds, hike Ontario Peak (8,696 ft) and Bighorn Peak. The hike begins on the popular Icehouse Canyon trail but soon moves off to the much less traveled Ontario Peak Trail, where you might see more bighorn sheep than people. The Ontario Peak Trail roughly follows a ridge line, offering great views culminating in the “rock nest” summit of Ontario Peak. There’s also a short spur trip to Bighorn Peak, because, why not? This is a tough hike but worth the effort–one of my favorites.
There is a big parking lot, but it fills up by 7am, and you need a parking pass. I use the affordable National Parks Pass, which gets me in every park, monument, and national forest. You can also use an (Southern California only) Adventure Pass, or buy a $5 day permit from the ranger’s office.
You need a permit to hike in the Cucamonga Wilderness, and it’s easy and free. A box at the trailhead has permit forms for you to fill out. Bring a pen. If there are no forms, fill out your info on a piece of paper and leave it.
Gear for the Hike
This is a long and challenging hike. Make sure you pack plenty of water, snacks, and layers. In the winter, there can be snow and ice. Check this summit weather and call the ranger office for the latest conditions and don’t take any risks. This is not a hike to do when there is snow or ice.
Here’s the gear that I personally use, have tested, and recommend for this hike*.
* No company pays me to promote or push a product, all the gear you see here is gear I use and recommend. If you click an REI link and buy gear, I get a small commission that helps offset website expenses. There is no cost to you.
Gaia GPS is a planning and navigation tool that you can use on your phone, tablet, and the web. I use it on my phone when I need to interact with the map and know where my position is on it. I use it at home on the computer to plan routes. You can overlay maps such as public lands to find out free places to camp. It’s a powerful tool.
This thing does everything: maps, GPX tracks, compass, barometer, altitude, heart rate, blood oxygen, fitness tracking, sleep tracking, and the list goes on. I keep a GPX route on the watch so I can quickly glance down and make sure I’m in the right place.