We drove up Mount Hopkins Road, made a left on a forest service dirt road and followed it for 2.5 miles. Actually drove past the trail head so turned around and found the small parking area. Off the three of us went, first following a trail that rises and falls a couple of times prior to dropping onto an old mining road. Pretty overgrown, much more so then when last I was here in 2016.
At some point, we catch a glimpse of our destination, Elephant Head. It’s a fun hike/scramble to the top of that. We continue to ascend via the road and soon pass….
…..an abandoned mine having appropriate warning sign about the dangers lurking beyond the entrance.
The road bends clockwise around a mountain and then….
…..we got a really good look at the objective. We got a late start to our adventure, 7:50am on a day with a forecast high of 109. Just past the 2 mile point of our hike, we noted a cairn on the left side of the road and began the very steep and sketchy descent. We would lose about 500′ prior to….
….finding the bottom of Chino Canyon. Nice spot with shade and running water. We paused briefly before beginning the climb…..
….the canyon to the saddle below Elephant Head. The climb out of Chino Canyon gains about 700′ but is not nearly as steep as the other side.
Looking to the south we see Little Elephant Head. Been there once but don’t remember much about it. We found the trail that breaks left off the saddle, followed a faint trail over a couple of protrusions before coming to…..
….the base of the neck of Elephant Head. It’s an awesome sight as we ditch our hiking poles and begin the ascent.
My companions, Amy and Tracy, had a great time as we slowly worked our way, bypassing the steepest sections on the right while enjoying some modest scrambling up the nape of the neck. Finally….
…we reach the top. Unfortunately, the peak was swarming with some kind of flying ant, the presence of which made it too annoying to stay. We quickly signed the register and departed.
I took a few quick images and led….
….the ladies down. There is surprisingly not a lot of exposure but I think for some hikers, there are a few places where there is enough they may be freaked out. There definitely are many spots where a fall would cause serious injury, perhaps death so be careful. We reach the saddle, find the trail into the canyon where…..
….arriving first, I cool my feet and douse my head. I underestimated my fluid needs so ran out soon after climbing out of the canyon and reaching the road. Tracy had extra so with that, I scooted ahead to reach the SUV where there was more water waiting. The hike was 6.8 miles with 2500′ of climbing yet it took us 5 hours to finish. I really underestimated the time and that got me in a bit of trouble as I walked the final mile with empty bottles.