Bedford Peak (3800 ft), Bald Peak (3947 ft), and Pleasants Peak (4007 ft) are 3 peaks in the Santa Ana Mountains located in Cleveland National Forest. The 3 peaks, which are all included in the Sierra Club Lower Peaks list, lie along the crest of the range north of Santiago Peak. My plan was to climb all 3 as part of a long day hike starting from the Maple Springs Trailhead near the little town of Silverado. I left San Diego early in the morning and made the 1.5 hour drive to the trailhead. I began hiking at 6:58am from 1810 feet above sea level. It was in the upper 30s when I got started.
I went through a locked gate and walked east on Maple Springs Road.
At 0.1 miles I crossed a small creek.
Shortly after that I turned left onto the Silverado Motorway, which is a nice trail that switchbacks north up the slope and eventually connects with Main Divide Road on the crest of the range. I’m not sure where the name “Motorway” comes from since the trail is narrow and doesn’t appear to have ever been an actual road.
I proceeded up the switchbacks for a few miles. The day started to warm up as the sun came out and lit up the hillsides.
I passed a hiker with his dog. At 2.9 miles I passed an American flag.
I reached Main Divide Road at 3.3 miles. At this point I was between the 3 peaks. Left (north) would lead to Pleasants Peak, and right (south) would lead to Bedford and Bald. I decided to go right first. I passed through an open gate.
After a few tenths of a mile, I found the narrow side trail that led from the road up to Bedford Peak. I was on top of Bedford Peak at 8:30am at the 4 mile mark.
I did not locate a register. I didn’t wait long on the summit before continuing. The trail leading back down to the road was very steep.
I walked around a few puddles which were still frozen in the early morning.
There were also some lingering snow patches on the side of the road.
At 4.8 miles I climbed Peak 3840. Similar to Bedford, I reached the peak via a short but steep side trail from the main road.
I then continued east on the road as I passed through another open gate.
At 5.9 miles I passed a junction for Bedford Road. I stayed right on Main Divide Road.
A mile later I climbed up Bald Peak via another side trail.
I reached Bald Peak at 9:40am at 7 miles. I signed the register which had been placed in 2019. The most recent entry was from January 29.
To the south I could see Santiago Peak (left background) and Modjeska Peak (right).
Plenty of snow remained on Modjeska’s north face.
I descended back to the road after a short break.
I had a long way to go to reach Pleasants Peak. It would be 3.7 miles back to the intersection of Main Divide Road and the trail, and then another 4.4 miles to Pleasants. At 8.4 miles I climbed another minor unnamed peak (Peak 3820) just off the road.
I was passed by a dirt biker shortly after Peak 3820. I reached the intersection with the trail at 10.7 miles, which was approximately the halfway point of the hike. I continued northwest towards Pleasants.
I passed a group of 5 hikers heading the opposite direction. I then hiked through a small section of pine trees.
At 13.6 miles I reached the top of Peak 3769. The road passed directly over this peak. I could see Pleasants Peak just a mile or so away.
There were more pine trees as I got close to Pleasants Peak.
The road passed around the north side of the peak. I left the road and climbed the last 350 feet to the summit via a steep trail.
I reached the summit at 12:39pm at 15.1 miles!
I signed the register which dated back to 2018. The most recent entry was from February 13. I had a good view of the surrounding peaks including San Jacinto to the east:
San Gorgonio to the northeast:
And Baldy to the north:
I began the long hike back to the trailhead. Shortly after reaching the road again, I spotted a gray fox in the bushes off to the left. It started at me for a while and then just continued sniffing around. It didn’t seem overly concerned with my presence.
A mile or 2 later I spotted an animal in the road about 50-100 feet in front of me. It was drinking from a puddle and didn’t see my right away. At first, I thought it was another fox but then it walked to the right a little and I saw that it didn’t have a bushy fox tail. It clearly wasn’t a fox, coyote, or deer, so the only other options were mountain lion or bobcat. The size and color led me to believe it was a mountain lion. It spotted me and stared for a few seconds. My heart started racing and I walked up the side of the road a little to get to higher ground. As soon as I moved the animal made a quick dash off to the left. For a brief second I thought it was running up the road towards me, but I quickly realized it had run off into the brush and disappeared. I was pretty sure it had been a mountain lion, and if so, it was the closest I had ever been to one in the wild. The only other time I had possibly seen one was a year and a half ago on Granite Mountain east of Joshua Tree National Park. On that occasion the animal was very far away, and I was uncertain about what I had seen.
I composed myself and then continued on my way. I hiked back to the trail and then down to the car, which I reached at 3:34pm. Stats for this hike were 22.92 miles, 5715 feet elevation gain, and 8:36:23 total time.