I’m not going to sugar coat it. Hiking Potato Mountain via the Claremont Loop is a tedious affair. You’ll traverse 11-miles on a dry and dusty fire road with full sun exposure. And a surprisingly tough amount of elevation gain. This is the long way to hike Potato Mountain and the least desirable approach. You will only want to do this one in cool weather.
Also, with the City’s 4-hour parking restriction, you would really have to hike extremely fast to avoid a parking ticket.
Distance: 11.0 miles
Duration: 4-5 hours (parking restriction allows 4-hours only)
Elevation Gain: 1960 feet
From the 210 Freeway, exit at Baseline Ave in Claremont and drive west. Proceed 0.7 miles and then turn right on Mills Ave (north). Continue north on Mills Ave about 1.4 miles to the large trailhead parking lot on the left at the end of Mills Ave. There is a $3.00 self-serve parking toll except for City of Claremont residents.
Note: There is a 4-hour time limit for the Claremont Hills Wilderness Trail parking lot. What this means is you will have to do this hike extremely fast. Within four hours. Or be subject to a parking ticket. If you are a slow to medium paced hiker, you should probably pass on this one, or get dropped off.
Claremont Loop junction with the Potato Mountain connector trail
The Claremont Loop to Potato Mountain traverse begins and ends at the Claremont Loop trailhead. Technically, the trail is called the Claremont Hills Wilderness Trail. But almost everyone calls it the Claremont Loop.
From the trailhead, follow the Cobal Canyon Mtwy trail to the right for 1.5 miles. Turn right at the junction with the connector trail that leads toward Potato Mountain. Evey Canyon is 2.0 miles up the trail, while the Potato Mountain summit is an additional 0.7 miles from there.
Traverse Trail between the Claremont Loop and Potato Mountain
The trail between the Claremont Loop and Evey Canyon is similar to the Claremont Loop in that its a fire road with a steady incline. There is a junction with the Palmer Mtwy about 0.7 miles in that leads down to Palmer Canyon. Just stay to the left at the junction and you will get to the next junction with Evey Canyon. From there, you will then take the trail to the right to the Potato Mountain summit.
Potato Mountain Evey Canyon junction with traverse trail
Potato Mountain has a fairly nice summit for a hill. Sure, at 3422 feet high, it is technically considered a mountain peak. There’s a round concrete water tank at the top that most hikers stand or sit on for their Potato Mountain summit pics, even though the view to the north featuring Mt Baldy, Ontario and Cucamonga Peaks is much more impressive. The water tank is a good place to take a break and have a snack.
To the south, you also get a nice view of Santiago and Modjeska Peaks. Pretty much the pride of Orange County. And to the east, you’ll see Mt San Gorgonio looming in the distance.
Santiago and Modjeska Peaks from Potato Mountain summit
On your return, you will hike back to Claremont Loop. If time permits, you can turn right and complete the remaining portion of the Claremont Loop. It’s about 3.5 additional miles. Dry, dusty and hilly. If you take this option, stay to the left at every junction except for at the bottom of the hill where you will make a right and walk the 0.1 miles back to the parking lot.
Otherwise, just head straight down the hill once you get back to the Claremont Loop.
For detailed coverage of the Claremont Loop portion of the hike, see the hike report covering the Claremont Hills Wilderness Trail. You may also want to check out Potato Mountain via Evey Canyon and Potato Mountain via the East Face.