This short hike offers more scenic variety and challenge than many longer trips. At 6,645 feet, Constance Peak is one of the prominent summits of the middle San Gorgonio country. The hike’s brevity makes it a popular side trip for those looking to knock off multiple peaks in the area; it’s also a convenient way to escape the Inland Empire’s summer heat. A mix of pines, manzanitas and oaks, plus views of Mill Creek, Santa Ana Canyon and the taller peaks nearby make it a great introduction to the area.
From the saddle, follow a short firebreak uphill, which soon evolves into a use trail. The trail is vague in spots but generally not too hard to follow. It heads uphill steeply; if you are sensitive to altitude and haven’t had time to acclimate expect to have to stop and catch your breath a few times. After climbing about 200 feet in 0.2 miles, the trail levels out and reaches a boulder-covered knob. From here you get your first look at the summit. The trail then bends southwest, following a ridge and climbing briefly again before dropping to a pleasant, black oak-shaded saddle. While parts of the trail are somewhat overgrown, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find the correct route; if you have to fight your way through brush, you’re off course.
One final ascent brings you to the summit. Again there is brush and some rock scrambling but nothing too technical or intimidating. From the top you can enjoy a nearly 360-degree view; the most visible summits are Morton Peak below to the southwest and Keller Peak to the north. The San Bernardino Divide looms to the south while to the west, the mouths of Mill Creek and Santa Ana Canyon blend into the flat expanse of the Inland Empire. After enjoying the view, return via the same route, making sure to respect the steep descent over often loose ground.
As for the peak’s name, according to the Hundred Peaks website, it is possibly named for the daughter of Charlie Martin (namesake of nearby Glen Martin Creek), a former criminal who eventually became San Bernardino Chief of Police. Constance Martin would marry rancher Cliff Shay, namesake for Shay Peak near Lake Arrowhead.
Text and photography copyright 2015 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.