The San Bernardino Mountains are mostly famous for it’s winter activities, but if one were to ask me when my favorite season was it would be the Spring and the Summer. The mountain trails are for the most part empty, but yet the air is cool and you can see a number of interesting things.
A couple of years ago at a village festival we got a little map that shows us all the trails in the San Bernardino Mountain. This last Saturday we did the last of the easy hikes: Indian Rock Trail. The trail is also known as the Metate Trail and is just off the backside of Hwy. 173. Getting to the trail head is interesting. Once you get past the backside of Lake Arrowhead you will find yourself in the depth of San Bernardino Forest. You know you are close to the trail head when you see a sign that says “pavement ends in one mile.” If the pavement does end, you went too far or fell off a cliff, either way it isn’t a good thing, be careful. (and for every-one’s sake don’t attempt the drive in the winter). Despite the curvy road, you will be rewarded with outstanding views of orange rocks and sagebrush.
The trail is called the Indian Rock Trail but the trail head signs call it the Metate Trail. Which one is the correct name I don’t know, but when you see that Metate Trail head sign be sure to park. An adventure pass is required to be legal, you probably wont find a ranger at the station so you will want to get it before you arrive (most gas stations and 7-11’s in town sell them).
The trail starts just behind the Rock Camp Station and is only .5 miles one way. You will know you have reached the metates (grinding holes) when you see a little monument. If you walk up the hill you will see them, pretty much every rock beyond that monument has one. They were used by the ancient Serrano Indians (the ones that now own San Manuel Casino). No one knows exactly how old they are, but they are hundreds if not thousands of years old. They were used to ground down acorns for food. Walking the trail you can tell why those first people picked the spot for their summer camps. There is plenty of flat ground, lots of plants to forage, and an abundance of water.
The trail is kind of out of the way, but it is fun and the metates are interesting. If you find yourself with some extra time you should check it out. Couple it with a visit to the Mountain Museum and the Cedar Glen Malt Shop and I guarantee you a great day, but more on that in another post.