Companion blog: Adventures In Stoving

Southern California Peaks Over 10,000 Feet/3048 Meters in Elevation


Mount San Antonio (10,064'/3068m) as seen from the Pacific Crest Trail
The following is a list of the peaks that are greater than 10,000'/3048m in elevation in Southern California.  Click here for a topographic map.  See also the update from 29 June 2015, below.  Each peak is indicated by a lettered marker.  You'll need to zoom in and scroll around.  The letters in the list below correspond to the markers on the topo map.  Placement of all markers is approximate.

UPDATE 16 July 2015:  Many (but not all!) areas in and around the San Gorgonio Wilderness are currently closed due to the Lake Fire.  See Lake Fire Closure Map for details.

UPDATE 29 June 2015:  I've now put up a new post, a post that lists not just the peaks over 10,000 feet in elevation in Southern California but also all peaks over 9,000 feet in elevation.  With it is a much improved map.  See:  Southern California Peaks Over 9000 Feet (2743 Meters)

UPDATE 25 Nov 2013:  Based on input from others and my own observations in the field, I have added Shirley Peak to the list.

In descending order of elevation
1. (A) San Gorgonio Mountain – 11,499’/3505m (per topo map but recent estimates place it at 11,502’) – San Gorgonio Wilderness – USGS, HPS 
2. (B) Jepson Peak – 11,205’/3415m – San Gorgonio Wilderness – USGS, HPS 
3. (C) Bighorn Mountain – 10,997’/3552m (per topo map but recent estimates place it at 11,002’)– San Gorgonio Wilderness – Not USGS, HPS 
4. (D) Dragon’s Head Peak (a.k.a. South Peak) – 10,866’/3312m – San Gorgonio Wilderness – Not USGS, HPS 
5. (E) Anderson Peak – 10,840'+/3304m+  (no spot height available) – San Gorgonio Wilderness – USGS, HPS 
6. (F) San Jacinto Peak – 10,834’ /3302m (the topo map specifies 10,804', but 10,834' is the widely accepted elevation) – San Jacinto Wilderness – USGS, HPS 
7. (G) Charlton Peak – 10,806’/3294m – San Gorgonio Wilderness – USGS, HPS 
8. (H) San Bernardino East Peak – 10,691’/3259m – San Gorgonio Wilderness – USGS, HPS 
9. (I) Shields Peak – 10,680'+/3255m+ (no spot height available) – San Gorgonio Wilderness – USGS, HPS 
10. (J) Little Charlton Peak – 10,696’/3260m – San Gorgonio Wilderness – USGS, Not HPS 
11. (K) Jean Peak – 10,670’/3252m – San Jacinto Wilderness – USGS, HPS 
12. (L) San Bernardino Peak – 10,649’/3246m – San Gorgonio Wilderness – USGS, HPS 
13. (M) Alto Diablo Peak – 10,563’/3220m – San Gorgonio Wilderness – Not USGS, Not HPS
14. (N) East Dobbs Peak – 10,520+/3206m+ (no spot height available) – San Gorgonio Wilderness – Not USGS, Not HPS
15. (O) Folly Peak – 10,480+/3194m+ (no spot height available) – San Jacinto Wilderness – USGS, HPS 
16. (P) Dobbs Peak – 10,459’/3188m – San Gorgonio Wilderness – USGS, HPS 
17. (Q) Miller Peak – 10,400'+/3170m+ (no spot height available) – San Jacinto Wilderness – USGS, Not HPS
18. (R) Shirley Peak - 10,388'/3166m - San Jacinto Wilderness - Not USGS, Not HPS 
19. (S) Marion Mountain – 10,362’+/3158m+ – San Jacinto Wilderness – USGS, HPS.  Note:  There is a spot height (10,362') marked on Marion Mountain.  However, the marked spot is not on the highest point of Marion Mountain.  Marion Mountain is clearly higher than 10,362 and is probably higher than nearby Shirley Peak.  See Is Marion Mountain "Wrong" on the USGS Topo? for full details.   
20. (T) Grinnell Mountain – 10,284’/3135m – San Gorgonio Wilderness – USGS, HPS 
21. (U)  Lake Peak – 10,161’/3097m – San Gorgonio Wilderness – USGS, HPS 
22. (V) Newton Drury Peak – 10,160'+/3096m+ (no spot height available) – San Jacinto Wilderness – USGS, HPS 
23. (W) Ten Thousand Foot Ridge (high point) – 10,094’/3077m – San Gorgonio Wilderness – Not USGS, HPS 
24. (X) Mount San Antonio (a.k.a. Mount "Baldy") – 10,064’/3068m – San Gabriel Mountains – USGS, HPS 
25. (Y) Zahniser Peak – 10,056’/3065m – San Gorgonio Wilderness – Not USGS, Not HPS

"USGS" indicates that the peak's name is officially recognized by the US Geological Survey
“HPS” indicates that the summit is considered a peak by the Hundred Peaks Section of the Sierra Club.

When is a peak not a peak?  Is that little bump on the side of a large peak truly a separate peak or just a knob?  Well, there's no easy answer as to what constitutes a peak.  Nobody fully agrees on exactly what constitutes a peak.  There are peaks recognized (via a name on a map) by the USGS that others would not truly consider a peak.  There are peaks that are considered peaks by local tradition, for example the "Nine Peaks" of the San Gorgonio Wilderness (San Bernardino Peak, San Bernardino East Peak, Anderson Peak, Shields Peak, Alto Diablo Peak, Charlton Peak, Little Charlton Peak, Jepson Peak, and San Gorgonio Mountain), that include peaks (Alto Diablo and Little Charlton) are not recognized by either the USGS or the HPS.  Finally there are peaks that are recognized by one government agency but not another.  For example, Bighorn Mountain is not labeled as a peak on the USGS map, but the US Forest Service officially calls the area around the mountain the "Bighorn Mountain and Whitewater River National Recreation Lands."  Again,  nobody fully agrees on exactly what constitutes a peak.  For my purposes, I've listed all high points that are either a) recognized by the USGS, b) recognized by the HPS, or c) named by local tradition.   

I hope you find this list helpful,

HJ

Notes on the elevations listed above:
In some cases, an exact height is not available for a given peak.  For example, I listed the elevation of Newton Drury Peak as 10,160+ feet/3097+ m (note the plus sign).  Given the contour lines on the USGS topo map, the exact height could be as high as 10,239'/3120m or as low as 10,161'/3097.1m.  The exact height is most likely somewhere between those two extremes, perhaps 10,200'/3109m, but the exact height has not been specified by the US Geological Survey.  Since the peak is at least 10,160'/3097m, I simply list the peak's elevation as the elevation of the highest contour line on the map followed by a plus sign.  This convention has been followed throughout.
San Jacinto Peak (10,834’ /3302m), from the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT)

17 comments:

  1. Thanks for this list. I'm thinking of making this list a goal this coming year :)

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    1. A worthy goal -- and a lot of neat territory to explore.

      HJ

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  2. Great list, Jim. Maybe the concept of 'prominence' has something to do with whether it's a "Peak" or a "Mountain" ?

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    1. I don't think there's any connection between the prominence of a summit and how that summit is named. There's certainly NO connection between prominence and whether or not a summit even gets a name, at least in the eyes of the US Geological Survey.

      HJ

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  3. Jim, nice work again. We should "bump" the total to at least 25 since we're counting all designations - formal, informal, and without any definition of peak on which there is conclusive agreement.
    Additions:
    Peak 10,388 a.k.a. Shirley Peak http://peakbagger.com/peak.aspx?pid=-23822
    Peak 10,050 a.k.a. Carmen Peak (Go to my gpx track here http://connect.garmin.com/activity/234082265, enable Terrain View under map layers and zoom in to the closest bump to 10K Ridge in a southeasterly direction). I'll have to peruse my track for a more accurate elevation, but it's right around 10,050 ft.

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    1. OK, I see which "peak" you mean when you say "Carmen Peak". Don't know about that one. it's really just part of 10K. I don't think it has enough separation (isolation) from 10K to be considered a separate peak. Take a look at San Gorgonio Mountain nearby. Really there are three separate high points over 11,000' on top of the the summit bloc, but those other two are just sub-peaks of the main summit.

      HJ

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    2. Like I mentioned in my Facebook comment, "Carmen Peak" was christened by someone who went through the trouble of building a summit rock pile and placing a new register on it (along with the Mexican flag). As far as isolation goes, since I was there over a year ago, I don't remember exactly how low the saddle between Carmen and the actual 10K' Ridge highpoint goes, but the descent was at least 100'. So in my opinion it is not part of the summit plateau. Whether it's worthy of getting its own name is debatable, I agree with that.

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    3. I wrote up a post with my "philosophy" (such as it is) of what is and is not a peak. Have a look. I'll be keeping my eye on "Carmen".

      HJ

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  4. Mihai,

    A number of people have encouraged me to include Shirley Peak. I am inclined to include it since it is a name of common use. Some other peaks like "Mt. Ellen" (west of Marion Mountain) are names only used among a particular set of friends.

    I'm not familiar with anything SE of 10K that's over 10,000'. I'll have too look at your link.

    HJ

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  5. Jim, you indicate several of the summits have no spot elevations available. I carry my GPS on all my trips and its recordings are fairly accurate - even after 'correcting' the data by overlaying in Google Earth, CalTopo, etc. Here are some possible spot elevation values:
    Anderson 10,874' (the accepted value is clearly underestimated)
    Shields 10,716' (again, accepted value is underestimated, peak is over 10,700' without a doubt)
    East Dobbs 10,547' (underestimated)
    Folly 10,532' (this one is over 10,500' without a doubt)
    Miller 10,426' (underestimated)
    Newton Drury 10,208' (clearly underestimated)

    Also need to mention Jean is at 10,655', so its accepted value is overestimated.

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    1. Very interesting!

      GPS determined elevations, no matter how good the GPS unit, are a little uncertain. If you get a lock on multiple satellites, and those satellites are well distributed, your GPS determined elevation will be pretty accurate. If you don't get multiple satellites or if the satellites are "clustered" (as opposed to well distributed), your elevation reading won't be that accurate -- no matter how good your GPS unit is.

      So, while those readings are extremely interesting, I probably won't record them on the map just yet. As an aside, I'm almost certain that Marion Mountain is higher than Shirley Peak even though the spot heights suggest otherwise. Have you got spot heights on those two peaks?

      HJ

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  6. I agree that one should not rely entirely on GPS data. While I can't say how well distributed the satellites were when I recorded these elevations, I am certain I was locked onto multiple sources. I've had my receiver for two years and it's NEVER failed to obtain a multi-signal lock in areas with an open view of the sky.
    (the exception being deep, narrow slot canyons, but then no GPS will function properly below ground)

    I understand you may be skeptical of these spot elevations, but I'm confident someone else will get similar results, so it wouldn't hurt to enter them at least with an asterisk indicating additional evidence is pending.

    My reading at the top of Marion, after climbing the crack, was 10,361'. I think the accepted value is correct. The peak is not higher than that - if anything, it's lower. I was not aware of Shirley when I hiked the area, but it did seem like the bump was slightly higher than Marion. I'll let you know for sure when I go back to check off Shirley.

    Other values you may find interesting:
    Grinnell 10,306' (confident the peak is above 10,300')
    Lake 10,177'
    10K Ridge 10,123' (confident peak is above 10,100')
    Little Charlton 10,713'
    Alto Diablo 10,577'
    San Bernardino East 10,676'
    San Bernardino 10,640'

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    1. I think we're on the right track here. Repeated observations by multiple people (with quality GPS units) ought to give us a good feel for the true elevation of the peaks. Thanks for taking the time to note down your readings. I hope to get a GPS in the next couple of months (I'm looking at a Garmin eTrex 20). It'll be interesting to see what elevations my unit records.

      One final technical note: It's not just how many satellites a GPS unit locks on to that determines the accuracy of an elevation; it's how the satellites are distributed. You do need multiple satellites, but they have to be well distributed across the sky for the elevation reading to be accurate.

      HJ

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  7. Jim, I wanted to get back to you regarding Shirley Peak's elevation, since that was still "pending." After reaching the top last weekend, I noted an elevation of 10,398'. However, for whatever reason, my GPS receiver was overestimating by about 10' that day (I compared the readings at the top of San Jacinto and Jean with established values), so the spot elevation 10,388' on the topo map is fairly accurate for Shirley. The peak is definitely higher than Marion though.

    How did it get its name, do you know? I did a Google search for 'Shirley Peak California' and the only result is an obscure lower bump in the Southern Sierra, close to Greenhorn Summit Ski Area.

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    1. Hi, Mihai,

      I saw that you had reached the summit of Shirley. Congratulations on completing the list; it's a good excuse for a lot of fun.

      I don't know where the name Shirley came from. It's generally recognized by locals, and I understand the RMRU SAR team uses it, but I don't know where it came from originally. It's not an official name in the eyes of the USGS.

      HJ

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  8. Hi Jim, nice work with this list. Just added Shirley Peak to peakery based on the reasons outlined in your post and am working on getting the full HPS list on there as well. If you haven't joined it yet, please check it out, would be great to see you on there: http://peakery.com

    Scott

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    1. Hi, Scott,

      So many good internet mountain resources, so little time! I'll get over there some if I can.

      HJ

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