- Location: Western San Bernardino Mountains, above the Cajon Pass. The turnoff for Cleghorn Road is on Highway 138 by the entrance to Silverwood Lake, 11 miles east of I-15 and 10.3 miles northwest of the junction with Highway 18, six miles from Crestline. Follow Cleghorn Road past the campground and administrative buildings. After one mile the road becomes dirt and easily passable only by high clearance/4WD vehicles; don’t risk it in a standard passenger car. At a junction approximately 4 miles from Highway 138, make a hairpin left turn and continue another 2.3 miles to a junction with Cajon Road on the right, which serves as the trail head. The coordinates are N 34 16.237, W 117 24.235.
- Agency: San Bernardino National Forest/Front Country Office (Lytle Creek)
- Distance: 3 miles
- Elevation gain: 500 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG
- Suggested time: 1.5 hours
- Best season: November – May (check road conditions with the ranger district before making the drive)
- USGS topo map: Cajon
- Recommended gear: Sun hat; insect repellent; long pants and sleeves
- More information: SummitPost page here; PeakBagger page here
- Rating: 6
Not to be confused with nearby Cleghorn Mountain or San Diego’s El Cajon Mountain, Cajon Mountain is one of the westernmost summits of the San Bernardino Mountains, providing views of the Cajon Pass, the Inland Empire, the eastern San Gabriels and more. After the long drive up the dirt road, the hike itself is easy, at least until the scramble to get to the peak. On the other hand, the overgrown use trail to the summit provides a sense of adventure after hiking on the fire road.
From the junction of Cleghorn Road and Cajon Road, follow Cajon Road past the metal gate and into a pleasant woodland of black oaks and pines. Heading west, the fire road leaves the woods and gradually descends to a saddle (0.8 mile) with views of the Inland Empire suburbs to the south. The road climbs for half a mile. Just before it reaches another saddle, look for a faint use trail on the left. If you reach the saddle, you’ve passed the trail, although you can continue another 0.1 mile to the road’s end at a clearing with a single antenna structure; from here you can get a nice view of the Cajon Pass.
Follow the use trail steeply uphill and begin doubling back to the east. The trail is overgrown and not always obvious, but using the summit and trail ducks as your guide you’ll be able to pick your way up the ridge to a saddle and then to the peak itself. Except for a thick patch of thorny chaparral near the top (long sleeves and pants), no real bushwhacking is required; if you find yourself battling the brush, retrace your steps.
The summit (elevation 5,360) is marked by a pile of rocks; a register can be found in a coffee can. Despite traffic noise carried up from I-15 and the adjacent train tracks, this a peaceful spot from which to enjoy the panoramic view. A lookout tower once stood here but fell into disrepair and has been removed. The antenna farther west at the end of the road once also stood at the summit.
Text and photography copyright 2016 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.