The Wildlands Conservancy owns and manages dozens of preserves, all over the state. Several are in southern California, but I had only been to two: Oak Glen Preserve, above Yucaipa (many times) and Whitewater Preserve, north of I-10 (about five times), just before the US 62 offramp.
The first time I hiked Whitewater, I hiked all the way to the edge of the main Whitewater watershed, so I could peak over into the Mission Creek Watershed. On several occasions, I thought I would like to hike from the other side, to link those segments. Additionally, on a previous hike, I had come over from the Haugman-Lehman side, walking the Pacific Crest Trail, from the south, over into the Whitewater watershed. And, finally, I had once hiked from south of the actual Preserve trailhead on the Canyon Loop.
With the initial intent of just making it to the watershed from Mission Creek Preserve, I was going to just hike from the locked gate. But then it occurred to me, "Hey, if I get the gate code and drive the additional 1.6 miles to the Stonehouse, that reduces my hike by 3.2 miles, which means I could then hike some north, on the PCT. So I e-mailed the Wildlands Conservancy, got the code quicker than I expected, then decided I would hike here on a Friday, then continue on to Yucca Valley after the hike, then take another hike in the area, the next day, before heading back home.
I don't regret the choice. While it's not the "correct" viewpoint, as the trail climbs out of the west fork of Mission Creek's watershed, you do get some nice views up towards Mount San Gorgonio. Even better, it's likely along a strand of the San Andreas Fault. It's also the "poster child" picture of Sand to Snow National Monument, at least for the Pacific Crest Trail Association.
I continued a bit further past that view, hoping to get myself a view back into the Coachella Valley. Didn't quite attain that. But I did get a view back towards where I came from, in the Mission Creek Preserve. Then I suddenly felt tired, so I gulped some sports drink, rested a bit, then made my way quickly back to my car.
Good day of hiking. My Alltrails app tells me I walked 9.1 mies, and gained 1253 feet of elevation on this day. Just under four hours of total time on the trail. Wouldn't have been possible to get that wonderful view if I hadn't "cheated" with the gate code. Thank you, Wildlands Conservancy!Wildlands Conservancy. That's because, the next day, I hiked out of their Pioneertown Mountains Preserve. And I'm still hoping to hike in their Kern County preserve (Wild Wolves), and the Santa Margarita River Trail Preserve, near Fallbrook, and the Bluff Lake Preserve, near Big Bear.]
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