Sandstone Peak

March 24, 2017


Los Angeles / Santa Monica Mountains, CA

Immediately to the west of Los Angeles along the coastline of southern California sits the group of rugged Santa Monica Mountains and Sandstone Peak is the highest among those. From a geological perspective this name is a misnomer as the area is actually igneous and formed from volcanic activities but who cares, on a clear day the summit of Sandstone Peak offers some of the best views in Los Angeles vicinity. To make things more appealing this area are much less crowded than you might expect and offers a great escape from the urban gong show that’s been going on 24/7/365. To me an ascent of Sandstone Peak was a pure last-minute decision made from simply gazing at the topographic maps on my iPhone. This would be my final objective in this productive spring break peak-bagging road trip.

The drive actually took a while. I followed the instruction given by the Waze app so pretty much knew nothing about where I was being directed to other than quite a few turns onto some increasingly winding and narrow roads. Eventually I even lost the cell phone reception and the area felt a whole lot more remote than I was originally expecting. The parking was somewhere along Yerba Buena Road. There are two trails heading to the summit of Sandstone Peak. There’s absolutely no reason to further complicate things so I simply took the easier option.

Sandstone Peak hiking route. GPX DL

Much of the elevation gain was dispatched on the driving and the hike was a mere 3 miles round trip with 300 m elevation gain. And again it’s pretty much entirely on a trail other than the last bits so I could just wear the trail runners and carry a pack that weighs next to nothing. The trail travels through some forested terrain but for once in a while I could get pretty good views.

Starting the hike. This is the typical country

Upwards and onwards

Passing another team of hikers

A bit of thick forest at places

To get to the true summit involved a bit of off-trail travel but with the amount of traffics there were already several well trodden paths. It’s not signed as where to leave the main trail but I just randomly picked one side trail that looked like the correct path. After a bit of steep hiking the forest thinned out and then I arrived at the summit. I wondered around the summit for quite a bit just to make sure I made to the highest point. I also waited for at least an hour as the lighting was getting better in this late afternoon timing.

This is the summit block

Incredible views already looking north

Me on the summit of Sandstone Peak

Panorama looking eastwards from the summit. Click to view large size.

Exposure down the south face

Urban areas looking east

The summit has a huge plaque. This summit is also known as “Mt. Allen”

The Pacific Ocean in view

This is a bit of zooming-in looking north

Another summit panorama from Sandstone Peak. Click to view large size.

Eventually I could no longer stand in that chilly wind without freezing my ass off so had to keep moving. Going down was as uneventful as I could remember and the next thing I was back to the car. There’s no cell phone reception so I had to make some guess work as how to get out of the mountains. I basically resumed the south/westwards drive down Yerba Buena Road which eventually brought me down to Highway 1 along the coastline. For that matter I took a long break soaking in the coastal views before resuming the northwards drive.

Starting the descent now

One of the few interesting rock formations

As much as the trailed descent

California beach time!

From where I were the most logical way to get back was via the scenic coastal route and then Highway 101 northwards towards San Francisco. The views were surely awesome but darkness fell in no time and then I was getting really tired. I kept pushing to as far as Santa Maria before calling it a day and then it rained overnight. The next morning I resumed the drive all the way to San Jose to meet up with my best friend in high school time. Jenny has been working there for over a year already and it’s been at least a couple years since we saw each other. A couple hours later I had to keep going. Getting onto I-680 bypassing much of the San Francisco and Sacramento urban areas and then back onto I-5 quietly I kept pushing northwards through the night, all the way to Medford of Oregon. Again it rained overnight and this time, the rain would accompany me all way way back home the next day. The gong show through Portland and Seattle was brutal as always followed by a long border delay back into Canada.

In the end I managed to bag 42 peaks in 18 days across 8 states and 1 province (BC, WA, OR, ID, UT, AZ, NM, TX, CA). Most of the time was spent in the warm desert sunshine while the others were suffering from this March’s perpetual rain depression. For once again thinking outside the box wins the game. Not bad, not bad…