Potato Mountain is a great conditioning hike. Although you can hike to the Potato Mountain summit a few different ways, the Evey Canyon trail is the most moderate and well-known approach. It’s a fire road the whole way. Even so, it is still a moderately strenuous five-mile hike. Additionally, it requires a private property permit from the nearby Pomona College.
Distance: 5.0 miles
Duration: 2.5 – 3.0 hours
Elevation Gain: 1,200 feet
From the 210 Freeway in Claremont, exit on Baseline Rd and proceed westerly to Padua Ave. Turn right on Padua and follow the road northerly until you reach Mt Baldy Rd in about 2 miles. Turn right on Mt Baldy Rd and follow for 2.4 miles to the dirt turnout marked by a yellow vehicle gate. Park your vehicle at the turnout or across the street at the other turnout.
WARNING: These turnouts are not official parking lots. Just dirt lots with a history of vehicle break-ins by low-class scumbag criminals. Criminals who wait for hikers to head up the trail before they smash a window or windshield. Do not leave any valuables in your parked vehicle or anything that may entice these degenerates.
Potato Mountain Evey Canyon Trailhead at Mt Baldy Road
At 3,422 feet high, Potato Mountain is actually taller than several notable southern California lower peaks like Sierra Peak (3,045), Sitton Peak (3,273) and Jones Peak (3,375). That said, Potato Mountain still looks and feels more like a hill. In some ways, it’s similar to the Claremont Hills Wilderness Trail. But unlike the Claremont Loop, Potato Mountain has an actual summit and is even featured in the Sierra Club’s Lower Peaks list.
This version of the Potato Mountain hike starts on the picturesque and partially shaded Evey Canyon trail. It’s a steady uphill climb from the parking area on Mt Baldy Road to the Potato Mountain summit. The portion of the trail near Evey Canyon is wide but somewhat rocky. Depending on the season, you can sometimes hear the sound of water as it flows through the canyon. Well below the trail.
Potato Mountain Evey Canyon Trail
After hiking for about 1.5 miles, you’ll reach a junction that marks the end of the Evey Canyon area. This is where you will hook a sharp left. Almost a U-Turn. Otherwise, you’ll end up on the traverse trail leading to the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park.
From this point forward, you will be fully exposed to the sun. Make sure you have sun protection and plenty of water. This is a good place for a quick break before you trudge the rest of the way up the hill.
Evey Canyon junction with the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park traverse trail
From the junction, it’s about a mile to the summit.This is the steepest portion of the hike, but you will have fantastic views of Ontario and Cucamonga Peaks along the way. It’s still a fire road, so you shouldn’t have any issues with traction or footing. Unless you go off trail.
The Potato Mountain summit is marked by a huge concrete cylinder thing. The cylinder is supposedly some type of water tank and makes a great place to take a break.
Notorious water tank atop the Potato Mountain summit
While it’s true that there’s really nothing special about Potato Mountain, you do get some nice views of the local mountains and valley. Plus, you get a nice workout.
You can also hike Potato Mountain from the Claremont Loop. But that version of the hike is a somewhat grueling 11-mile affair with about 2,600 feet elevation gain and full sun exposure. It’s doable of course, but definitely not recommended for hot weather.
In addition, you could just climb straight up the east face. The Potato Mountain East Face option features a 1,200-foot climb in less than a mile. Mostly on a steep and slippery slope. It’s shorter than the Evey Canyon Trail but far more intense and only appropriate for advanced level hikers.
Permit Required To Enter Evey Canyon
The Evey Canyon portion of the hike is private property. As a result, you are required to obtain a Permit To Enter Evey / Cobalt Canyon from the Pomona College Department of Biology. The permit is free and no longer has to be renewed annually, however, can be revoked at any time by the college. Call 909-607-2950 to request an application.