- Location: Claremont Hills Wilderness Park. From I-210, take the Baseline Road exit and go west for 0.7 miles. Take a right on Mills. At 1.1 miles, stay straight on Mills and follow it to the parking area. Parking is $3 for four hours. The automated machines only MasterCard and Visa (no cash). Park hours vary by season; see the link below for specific information.
- Agency: City of Claremont/Herman Garner Biological Reserve
- Distance: 8.8 miles
- Elevation gain: 1,900 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (Distance, elevation gain)
- Suggested time: 4 hours (time limit for parking at the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park trail head)
- Best season: October – June
- Recommended gear: sun hat; sunblock
- Dogs: Allowed (must be on leash during the first 1.5 miles through Claremont Wilderness Park; exercise caution on warm days as most of the route is exposed)
- Cell phone reception: Weak to fair for most of the route (there is a payphone at the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park trail head)
- Water: Filling station at the trail head
- Restrooms: Chemical toilets at the trail head and at the junction with the Palmer/Evey Motorway (see description)
- Camping/backpacking: None
- More information: All Trails report here; trip description from a Meetup here
- Rating: 7
Updated June 2018
Potato Mountain’s accessibility and panoramic views make it a popular destination for eastern L.A. County and Inland Empire hikers. If you’ve already done the shorter approach from the east, consider the longer route from the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park. Though you will probably have a lot of company on the first 1.5 miles of the hike which are located in the wilderness park and the final 0.8 mile to the summit, the remaining two mile stretch is pleasantly secluded, despite being only a few miles from suburbia.
From the parking area, head into the park and begin your ascent on the Cobal Canyon Motorway. Take the right fork (the left fork is the Burbank Motorway, return route for the 5-mile Claremont Hills Wilderness Park loop). The trail ascends through a pleasant oak woodland before making a hairpin turn and climbing out of the canyon onto the exposed hillside. At 1.5 miles (600 feet of elevation gain) from the start, you reach a junction. The loop continues to the left but the right fork, the Palmer-Evey Motorway, is the route to Potato Mountain.
Your ascent becomes easier at this point as you will pick up less than 200 feet in the next 0.7 mile. Potato Mountain is clearly visible to the east; beyond it are Ontario and Cucamonga Peaks. At 2.3 miles from the start, bear left to stay on the Palmer-Evey Motorway. You briefly enter a grove of impressive oaks mingled with a few pines; this is the approximate half way point and a good place to stop before rallying for the next stretch of the climb.
Continuing uphill, you reach a saddle (3.7 miles from the start) where the route from Mt. Baldy Road joins. From here, it’s 0.7 mile and about 400 vertical feet to the summit. The trail briefly dips before making the steep final push. An even steeper fire break branches off, saving some distance (but not likely time due to its severe grade and loose terrain). On the 3,422 summit of Potato Mountain, clear day views can be impressive: in addition to the suburbs spread out below, the vistas extend to downtown Los Angeles, the Palos Verdes Peninsula and more. To the north, Mt. Baldy towers over San Antonio Canyon.
After enjoying the view, retrace your route. Variations include completing the Claremont Hills Wilderness Loop (a total of 11 miles – be aware of the 4-hour time limit if you are parked at the trail head) or, if you have set up a shuttle, you can descend through scenic Evey Canyon to the eastern trail head on Mt. Baldy Road; the total distance for that route is just under 7 miles.
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. By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.