Mt. McDill, Palmdale, CA

Mt. McDill

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  • Location: Lincoln Crest, Bouquet Canyon Road, west of Palmdale. From the 14 Freeway in Palmdale, take the Palmdale Blvd. exit and head west for a total of 8.5 miles (Palmdale Blvd. becomes Elizabeth Lake Road). Turn left on Bouquet Canyon Road and follow it 3.3 miles. Just before the sign marking the entrance to the Angeles National Forest, park in a dirt turnout on the left side of the road. Alternately from Santa Clarita, take the 14 Freeway to Sand Canyon Road. Turn left and follow Sand Canyon Road 2 miles to Sierra Highway. Turn right and go 0.4 miles to Vasquez Canyon Road. Turn left and follow Vasquez Canyon Road to its ending at Bouquet Canyon Road (3.6 miles). Turn right and follow Bouquet Canyon Road for 14.7 miles to Lincoln Crest. Just past the sign indicating the end of the Angeles National Forest boundary, park in a dirt turnout on the right side of the road.
  • Agency: Angeles National Forest
  • Distance: 6.4 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1,600 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: PG
  • Suggested time: 3 hours
  • Best season: March – June; September – November
  • Dogs: Allowed (exercise caution on warm days; some of the terrain may be difficult on their paws)
  • Cell phone reception: None at the trail head; fair from the junction with the single-track to the summit
  • Water: None
  • Restrooms: None
  • Camping/backpacking: The fire road along the ridge has a few turnouts that may be options for camping, but expect cold and windy nights
  • Recommended gear: hiking poles; sun hat; sunblock
  • More information: Map My Hike report here; photo gallery here; Summitpost page here; Peakery page here; Hundred Peaks page here
  • Rating: 7

Updated November 2018

Mt. McDill (elevation 5,187) is really just a bump on the eastern ridge of the Sierra Pelonas, but its vantage point makes for some impressive views. Some hikers might be turned off by the presence of high tension power lines on the lower portion of the hike and by the fact that more than 2/3 of the route is on a fire road, but the hike is still well worth a visit if you find yourself in the Antelope Valley. With a substantial western exposure on the descent, McDill is a great sunset hike; since the last mile of the return is on a fire road, night time route finding will be easy.

From Bouquet Canyon Road, head uphill on the fire road, passing a metal gate. The first mile is a little tedious, but you do get better and better views as you climb. Stay left at a junction about a quarter mile from the start and continue to a saddle where an unmarked but obvious single-track trail branches off to the right. The hike instantly becomes more enjoyable as the single-track ascends the slope, passing through a mix of high desert vegetation including buckwheat, oak chaparral, manzanita and as you get higher, black oaks. About half a mile from the fire road (the approximate halfway point of the route) the trail enters a meadow with views to the north and west.

The trail rejoins the fire road in a mile, a total of two miles from the start (1,000 feet of elevation gain). Make a note of this spot for  descent. Turn right and ascend the winding fire road, passing by some oaks before reaching the ridge with expansive views of the San Gabriels and the Santa Clrita Valley to the south. Turn left and continue the climb, picking up almost 300 feet in the next 0.6 mile. You pass the “Mint” benchmark on the left before briefly dropping down to a saddle making a gentle ascent to Mt. McDill (3.2 miles from the start). A summit register can be found in a metal can beneath a large pile of rocks.

Mt. McDill, Palmdale, CA
Start of the hike on Bouquet Canyon Road
Mt. McDill, Palmdale, CA
Start of the single track, about a mile from the start
Mt. McDill, Palmdale, CA
Heading through the meadow on the single track
Mt. McDill, Palmdale, CA
View from near the upper end of the single track
Mt. McDill, Palmdale, CA
Looking south from the ridge
Mt. McDill, Palmdale, CA
Looking west from the summit
Mt. McDill, Palmdale, CA
Descending the fire road toward the top of the single track
Mt. McDill, Palmdale, CA
Sunset, Mt. McDill

Text and photography copyright 2018 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. The author does not take any responsibility for injuries sustained during hikes or walks on the routes described here. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.

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