Big Bad Iron – Iron Mountain #1

 “Through bad chaparral and stinging nettle; to do Big Iron you need pants of metal…”

“Iron Mountain, at 8007′, is by far the least accessible peak in the San Gabriels…Someone signing the summit register called this “The mother of all hikes,” which it is, at least for the San Gabriels.” – John Robinson, Trails of the Angeles

Hike Details

Time: 7:00 AM at the East Fork Parking Area

Distance: ~ 14 miles rt

Elevation Gain: ~ 7200 ft (6600 there, 600 back)

Gain / Mile: 1000 ft / mile

Estimated Time: ~ 10 hrs

Terrain: Trail, Ridge with loose scree, annoying Yucca plants

Difficulty: 11/10

To Allison Saddle (just before ridge where it gets really steep:.

Distance: ~ 9 miles rt

Elevation Gain: ~ 3500 ft (3000 there, 500 back)

Gain / Mile: 780 ft / mile

Estimated Time: ~ 6 hrs

Terrain: Trail, annoying Yucca plants

Difficulty: 9/10

Hike Description

Let me be very clear. This is the hardest hike I have done. While Mt Whitney slows people down because of the altitude, it is not steep. Iron Mountain is the definition of steep. I think it was harder than Whitney for sure – it is the only hike that has left my legs sore – and very sore at that.

Iron Mountain lies in the Sheep Mountain Wilderness (its real name is Sheep Mountain) west via ridge from Mt San Antonio (Mt Baldy) and just east of the East Fork and Bridge to Nowhere. It’s placement offers clear views of much of the San Gabriel high country as well as inland.

The hike starts at the same place as for the Bridge to Nowhere hike, but could not differ more after that! The first 1/2 of the hike ascends the Heaton Flat trail, which by itself offers a solid hike.

Once the trail ends at Allison Saddle, we gain the ridge up that goes to Iron. This portion is brutal, covering more than 3500 ft in less than 3 miles. Not only is it steep, but there is loose scree that makes you work a little bit harder every step!

Coming down the ridge is the final straw. You have already spent most of your energy, and your legs are close to done, but the steepness requires you to work even more. By the time I was down to the saddle, my legs were done. And though the extreme steepness ended, there was still a little bit of uphill to go. Utterly demoralizing!

I estimate that the best time I could get on this going up would be 3 hrs. Based on my estimates of other hikes such as Baldy, people who want to make it to the top should be in excellent condition, enough to make it up under 6 hours.

What to bring:

Long sleeves (to avoid the brush!)

Lots of water 7 liters for me (depends on weight, if you don’t know, you shouldn’t be doing this)

Hiking pole – especially for the downhill. Or a walking stick of some sort

Hiking Partner – I will probably stay with a group that can make it up in 4.5 hrs. If you are going to take more, bring a partner, otherwise I will not let you do the hike.

Difficulty MUST READ

For those in the best condition. This hike requires the energy expenditure of a marathon run. If you aren’t training hard, this hike isn’t for you.

You must have hiked with me before – you then know the difficulty that I’m describing. If you haven’t, you’d better read this and message me.

We will go up

And up

You may run into stinging brush

But if you are mentally and physically conditioned, you will ascend

via Zé from last hike

Getting There

We will be heading to the East Fork, though we may carpool from Azusa first. Every car will need an Adventure Pass

You will approach and intersection with Glendora Mountain Rd. You’ll want to head to the right of the tree, but then make a left after it.
View Larger Map

Related posts:

Mt. Yale
Attack of the Cholla - Ascent of Villager & Rabbit Peaks
Double Hike: Altadena Exploration

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This entry was posted on Sunday, September 21st, 2008 at 9:01 pm and is filed under Trail Information. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “Big Bad Iron – Iron Mountain #1”

Dustin Callahan

Dustin Callahan July 12th, 2010 at 12:32 am

I’d love to do this one. I’ve done the mountaineers route on Whitney which is over 1,000 ft per mile elevation gain. About 6100 ft in 4.5 miles I definitely remember my legs killing me. Lots of cross country route finding.

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