Piedras Grandes

With rain again in the forecast, I opted to take part of the day off and head out early to get in the last two desert hikes; Piedras Grandes and Indian Hill. Both are near Dos Cabezas just past the wind farm in Ocotillo. Since I was going solo this time, I needed to make sure I had my routes down. For Piedras Grandes, I saw some hikers had approached it from the south via a wash, then up to the summit. It was a bit longer in distance but it could be something new. In looking at the satellite imagery, there was also a road from the trailhead for this route. Researching it, I learned the now closed jeep road has signboards along the way exposing various points of interest and the history of the region. Sold!

I pulled into the trailhead just after 7:15 and gathered my gear. The sun had risen but it was still a tad cool, so I tossed on a slightly warmer layer for this hike, figuring I would change before the second one of the day.

Hiking on the Jeep trail made for a quick time. The signboards told bits and pieces of the significance of the area. I found the Yoni, or female fertility symbol, and the morteros. I missed the actual pictographs, but I did not look that hard. I plan to return and explore the area more when I am not chasing peaks.

At the road’s end I began the open desert crossing, I looped around a small peak and then down to the saddle at the base of Piedras Grandes. I picked a route and motored up, avoiding the cacti that covered the slopes.

In no time I reached the summit once again. This time this was almost natural for me. Another indication of my growth as a hiker. I signed the register and took my photos. For the descent I had two basic options; return the same way or follow the wash. Once I reached the saddle, I opted for the first wash. Except for one minor scramble around a dry waterfall, it was a pleasant route.

I even spotted boot prints on the ground. Soon I rejoined the jeep trail, and then back to the car. That was peak #96 of my #100PeakChallenge. Now to drive the 5 minutes to the trailhead for Indian Hill.

I am an avid peak bagger, sometimes backpacker, and former sea kayaker living in San Diego. In 2019, I became the third person to complete the San Diego 100 Peak Challenge. Not stopping with that accomplishment, I set my sights on the harder San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list, which I completed in 2021. In addition, I have conquered several Six-Pack of Peaks challenges (SoCal, San Diego, Central Coast, and Arizona-Winter). Beyond attempting the San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list a second time, I am looking forward to exploring new summits and new adventures across the southwest. 

7 thoughts on “Piedras Grandes

  1. Hi Chris,
    Thanks for the nice trip reports. For this hike to get to the trailhead did you drive Mortero Canyon Road south from S2 over the RR tracks or did you drive up from another direction.?
    Thanks – appreciate any info you can provide.

    1. Thanks, hope they help. I think the best road use is the one that would take you toward Mortero Palms, then hang a right. No real issues on the road, gets bumpy at spots. You can then drive onto Dos Cabeza with no issues. If you want to drive onto the closer trailhead for Indian Hill, depending on your car, you can parallel the tracks to the trailhead for Indian Hill, or take the bypass that is just a bit to the east.

      1. Okay so you took Mortero Wash road south from S2 over the RR to the TH at 32.730258 -116.136163 for this hike. We have a Subaru Crosstrek – suitable for this road? Thanks again Chris

        1. I drive an Outback, so go Team Subaru! I have gone both ways. Coming down the Mortero Wash has one section that takes some care. I think approaching from the Wind Farm control road is better. I drove the wash just because we did two peaks just to the north.

          1. Sorry for all the questions, the Wind Farm control road is that what’s labeled Dos Cabezas Road on most maps? Starts east of Mortero Wash Road on S2?

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