Companion blog: Adventures In Stoving

Monday, June 29, 2015

Southern California Peaks Over 9000 Feet (2743 Meters)

I recently read on Adventure 16's website that "at roughly 9,400’, Mt. Baden-Powell is the fourth highest peak in Southern California...".  Um, no.  Not even close.  By my count, Mt. Baden-Powell is the 37th highest peak in Southern California.

Now, don't get me wrong, I like Adventure 16, and I like that they're encouraging people to hike.  But Baden-Powell just isn't the fourth highest peak in Southern California.  I don't even know where they'd get that from.  I mean, what??  It isn't even the fourth highest in its own range, the San Gabriel Mountains; it's sixth after Mt. Harwood.

UPDATE 16 July 2015:  Many peaks in and near the San Gorgonio Wilderness are currently closed due to the Lake Fire.  See Lake Fire Closure Map for details.
San Jacinto Peak, 6th highest peak in Southern California
OK, so what are the highest peaks in Southern California?  Well, it depends on your definition of peak, but here's my list of summits generally called peaks in Southern California that are over 9000 feet (2743 meters) in elevation.  I'll add some notes at the bottom.  My list isn't perfect. If you think I've left something off, mention it in the comments below.
Summit sign atop Mt Baldy (Mt San Antonio), 26th highest peak in Southern California
To go along with my list I've created a topo map of Southern California Peaks Over 9000 Feet (2743 Meters). You can view the map in-line below or you can open Topo Map of Southern California Peaks Over 9000 Feet (2743 Meters) in a separate window.

Southern California Peaks Over 9000 Feet (2743 Meters)
(Ordered by height)
Rank Peak Name Elevation Range Source
1 San Gorgonio Mtn 11,502 San Bernardinos USGS
2 Jepson Peak 11,205 San Bernardinos USGS
3 Bighorn Mountain 10,997 San Bernardinos HPS
4 Dragons Head Pk 10,866 San Bernardinos HPS
5 Anderson Peak 10,840+ San Bernardinos USGS
6 San Jacinto Peak 10,834 San Jacintos USGS
7 Charlton Peak 10,806 San Bernardinos USGS
8 Little Charlton Peak 10,696 San Bernardinos USGS
9 East San Bernardino Peak 10,691 San Bernardinos USGS
10 Shields Peak 10,680+ San Bernardinos USGS
11 Jean Peak 10,670 San Jacintos USGS
12 San Bernardino Peak 10,649 San Bernardinos USGS
13 Alto Diablo Peak 10,563 San Bernardinos Common Use
14 East Dobbs Peak 10,520+ San Bernardinos Common Use
15 Folly Peak 10,480+ San Jacintos USGS
16 West Dobbs Peak  10,459 San Bernardinos USGS
17 Miller Peak 10,400+ San Jacintos USGS
18 Shirley Peak 10,388 San Jacintos Common Use
19 Marion Mountain  10,362 San Jacintos USGS
20 Grinnell Mtn 10,284 San Bernardinos USGS
21 Pi Peak (3.141 km elevation) 10,280+ San Bernardinos Colloquial
22 Lake Peak 10,161 San Bernardinos USGS
23 Newton Drury Peak 10,160+ San Jacintos USGS
24 Joyce Pk 10,160+ San Jacintos Colloquial
25 Mt Ellen (aka Mt St Ellens) 10,160+ San Jacintos Colloquial
26 Ten Thousand Foot Ridge 10,094 San Bernardinos HPS
27 Mt San Antonio (aka Mt Baldy) 10,064 San Gabriels USGS
28 Zahniser Peak 10,056 San Bernardinos Common Use
29 N Fork Peak 10,040+ San Bernardinos Colloquial
30 West Baldy 9988 San Gabriels Common Use
31 Fish Creek Pk 9971 San Bernardinos Colloquial
32 Sugarloaf Mtn 9952 San Bernardinos USGS
33 Hell For Sure Pk 9930 San Bernardinos Common Use
34 Tea Can Pk (aka Tea Bag Can Pk) 9884 San Bernardinos Common Use
35 Green Mtn 9775 San Bernardinos Colloquial
36 Cornell Peak 9750 San Jacintos USGS
37 Pine Mtn 9648 San Gabriels USGS
38 Mission Peak 9580 San Bernardinos Colloquial
39 Dawson Pk 9575 San Gabriels USGS
40 Mt Harwood 9552 San Gabriels USGS
41 Harvard Peak 9520+ San Jacintos USGS
42 Whitewater Mountain 9480+ San Bernardinos Colloquial
43 Lightning Gulch Point 9465 San Bernardinos Colloquial
44 Brown Peak 9400+ San Jacintos Colloquial
45 Mt Baden-Powell 9399 San Gabriels USGS
46 Wildhorse Mtn 9385 San Bernardinos Colloquial
47 Yale Peak 9360+ San Jacintos Common Use
48 Landells Peak (aka Luella Todd Pk) 9356 San Jacintos California State Park Service
49 Lost Peak 9327 San Bernardinos Colloquial
50 Galena Peak 9324 San Bernardinos USGS
51 Kristen Pk 9204 San Jacintos Common Use
52 Divide Peak 9200+ San Jacintos California State Park Service
53 Jumpoff Peak 9200+ San Bernardinos Colloquial
54 Mill Peak 9164 San Bernardinos Colloquial
55 Seca Mtn 9156 San Bernardinos Colloquial
56 Cienega Peak 9144 San Jacintos Common Use
57 Throop Pk 9138 San Gabriels USGS
58 Little San Gorgonio Pk 9133 San Bernardinos USGS
59 Sugarcube Pk 9123 San Bernardinos Colloquial
60 Onyx Peak 9113 San Bernardinos USGS
61 Triple Divide Mtn 9070 San Bernardinos Colloquial
62 Wanat Peak 9000+ San Bernardinos Colloquial
Sugarloaf Mountain, 29th highest peak in Southern California
1.  What is "Southern" California?  For these purposes, I consider Southern California to be the area comprised of the following ten counties:
  • San Luis Obispo
  • Kern
  • Santa Barbara
  • Ventura
  • Los Angeles
  • San Bernardino
  • Orange
  • Riverside
  • San Diego
  • Imperial

2.  What is a peak?  I'm including peaks that are generally recognized as peaks.  By that I mean there is a name commonly associated with a particular summit.  There is no general agreement as to exactly what constitutes a peak.  For these purposes, a peak has to have at least two closed 40' contour lines (80 feet total) and preferably three closed 40' contour lines (120 feet total) before it can even begin to be called a peak. And I'm being pretty liberal.  Some definitions of "peak" require six closed contour lines.  The only exception to my "must have at least two closed contour lines" rule is if there is a USGS peak name.  If the USGS marks it as a peak, then I include it on my list regardless of how many closed contour lines there are.  I'm sure some people would argue that particular peaks on my list should be deleted and that other peaks should be added.  If you're one of those people, then feel free to leave a comment in the comments section below.  I may or may not add/delete your favorite peak, but I've got an open mind.

3.  What do I mean by "source?"  Well, if a peak has a name on the maps produced by the United States Geological Survey, I so indicate with the initialism, "USGS".  If the peak is listed in the Hundred Peaks Section list, I so indicate with the initialism, "HPS".  If a peak has a name that is just a name of common use, i.e. no body or organization has conferred said name, then I simply put "Common Use".  Notice that a few sources are listed as "colloquial".  The "colloquial" designation means that some people may refer to a certain summit as a peak but that it's far from commonly accepted as a peak.  In time, these may become commonly accepted names, but for now I list these simply for ease of reference.

4.  Where do I get my elevations from?  Well, if a specific height is listed on a USGS map, I use that height.  If not, then I use the highest contour interval below the named summit.  Of course the summit is actually higher, but since I don't know how much higher, I just use the closest contour interval.  in such cases, I indicate the elevation with a plus symbol (+) next to it.  In some cases, I am aware of more accurate heights than what is listed on the USGS topo maps.  In particular, North American Vertical Datum of 1988 (NAVD88) elevations are used whenever they are available.

5.  Why do I use the name Landells Peak instead of Luella Todd Peak?  Well, both names have some claim to this summit, but a) Mr. Landells had a long association with the San Jacinto Mountains whereas Ms. Todd to my knowledge did not and b) Mr. Landells died while trying to rescue someone.  I think the manner of Mr. Landells death and his long association with the San Jacintos give him the better claim to this peak.  Ms. Todd was a noteworthy individual and should have a peak named in her honor, but not this peak in my opinion.  Feel free to disagree of course.

6.  With respect to Marion Mountain, there is a spot height of 10,362 feet marked on the easternmost summit.  Of course when you actually climb Marion Mountain you realize that the highest point on the mountain is the westernmost summit.  The USGS unfortunately did not list a spot height for this point.  I therefore list what I have available to me, but be aware that the actual height of Marion Mountain is greater than 10,362 feet.  See also:  Is Marion Mountain "Wrong" on the USGS Map?

7.  Why don't I include West Galena Peak?  Well, there are three very closely clustered high points atop Galena Peak, all of about the same height.  Those points just aren't far enough apart to be called separate peaks.

8.  Why do I place Fish Creek Peak where I do (on Ten Thousand Foot Ridge)?  Some people place Fish Creek Peak over on the eastern flank of Lake Peak, but the point they mark, elevation 9942, doesn't even have one closed contour line.  FAIL!  This is just not a peak.  I mark Fish Creek Peak over on Ten Thousand Foot Ridge where it belongs.
San Jacinto Peak, 6th highest peak in Southern California

I hope you find this list useful,


San Gorgonio Mountain, highest peak in Southern California


  1. Great list! Must have taken you a while to put this together..... I would exclude Kern and San Luis from So Cal IMO.... geographically, geologically, socially, they just don't make the cut....I refer to John McKinney's "Day Hikes in Southern California" for this geologically speaking Point Conception should be the northern terminus, but for the sake of could throw in all of SB County.... In terms of Kern....Sierras...that disqualifies it for me.

    1. Well, whether we consider Kern and San Luis Obispo Counties as Southern or Northern California, it really doesn't matter since the peak list would not change. The high point of Kern County is Sawmill Mountain at 8818' so it doesn't make the 9,000' cut off, and neither does the high point of San Luis Obispo, Caliente Mtn at 5,106'.

      Now, if I make an 8,000' peak list, then it would matter, and I'd have to give it some more serious thought. :)


    2. Uhh, that would be "Central California" not "Northern California"... you folks down there in SoCal need to learn where NorCal starts :-p SF is NOT NorCal ;)

    3. Oh, dear, obviously a troll attack is going on against my blog. ;)


  2. Nice Job HJ looks like I've got some work to do!!

  3. HJ,

    Appreciate the work you've put into this. You have included peaks in the list that don't meet your own definition (2-3 closed loops) and not USGS named (many in San Jacinto), but you have to make subjective calls somewhere and yours are better than most.

    Also, kudos on the Gorgonio fire maps. It could be years before a lot of the 9Ks and 10Ks open up again around Gorgonio. Really sad how much damage was done.

    1. Recall though that on the San Jacinto quad, for whatever reason, the USGS 1:24,000 maps have an 80 foot contour instead of the standard 40 foot contour. I personally think the person who did this ought to be shot, but be that as it may, one 80 foot contour line counts as two 40 foot contour lines. And yes, I realize that the USFS rendition of the topo map says that their San Jacinto quad has a 40' contour interval... but does it really? I don't think so. The FS just took the data and marked it as 40' without realizing what they were doing. I can point out numerous errors that the FS made when "transcribing" the USGS maps. Take a look at the summit of E San Bernardino Peak on a USGS map and then compare that to a USFS map. You'll see that the USFS deleted one summit. I can cite a lot of much more serious examples than that.

      Now, that said, my peak naming conventions are fairly loose. If it's commonly called a peak or if the USGS calls it a peak, I list it. If it's not commonly referred to as a peak, then I generally expect 3 closed forty foot contour lines. On maps with only 80 foot contour lines (e.g. San Jacinto Peak quadrangle), then it's a bit of a judgement call.