Adventures Close to Home Part 2: Potato Mountain

One of the best weekend hikes, in my opinion, is Potato Mountain. I have done this hike a couple of times, and it always offers great views without taking a long time. The last time I went on this hike was right before Thanksgiving break. It was such a great opportunity to go on a trip away from Mudd right before going home. To get there, just drive north on Mills Ave, then turn right at the stop sign near the wilderness trail. You will follow this road up for a bit, past the dam, then you should see some cars parked at a trailhead. This is the Potato Mountain trailhead! For more descriptive directions, check these trail notes [Link Here]. To start the hike, just hop over the yellow gate.

A yellow gate, which marks the start of the trail, is surrounded by trees and bushes

The yellow gate at the start of the Potato Mountain trailhead. [Click picture for source]

Some overall notes, this trail is about 4.5 miles and is an out and back trail. There is parking right at the trailhead, and there are no permits required. The trail gets medium foot traffic, but normally the peak is not very busy. It is much more quiet on the weekdays.

The first part of the hike is super shaded with lots of trees and foliage. There is even a creek (which sometimes has water) below the trail. You can hear lots of animals all the time, whether it’s squirrels, chipmunks, snakes (yes, I once heard a rattlesnake), or other people’s dogs. There is a warning sign about mountain lions, but do not be afraid: this sign is at the front of every single trail around here. It isn’t too steep at the start, so this is a great time to warm up for the later half of the ascent.

A fork in the trail, where the left side goes down towards the forest while the right side goes up towards the desert landscape

About the halfway point of the trail, where things turn more desert-y. Source: trailtopeak.com

About halfway through, the trail turns into a more desert-like landscape. There are great views at this spot. If you look carefully, you can even see the 5C campuses! This was the spot that I once heard a rattlesnake. It sounded super angry, and it was a slightly narrow path. (We decided to head back at that point).

Haze covers the view to the 5C campuses and the rest of Claremont

View from the second half of the hike. On a clear day, you can see Claremont! [Click photo for source]

Finally, once you get to the top of the mountain, you will see a surprise!

Several potatoes with googly eyes sit at the top of Potato mountain

A family of potatoes at the top of Potato mountain

This is why they call it Potato mountain: because people bring potatoes to the top of the mountain (definitely not the other way around). My favorite potato that I saw was the beautiful Queen Potato.

A queen potato with googly eyes has a crown to confirm that she is the queen

The Queen Potato. She is undeniably 100% the Queen.

The top of the mountain is a fun place to sit for a while, contemplate, hang out with the Potatoes, and rest until hiking back down. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the most clear of days when I went in November, but there was still a pretty good view.

From the top of Potato Mountain, there is a haze that covers Claremont

View from the top of Potato Mountain.

The whole hike down, my friend and I talked about the potatoes, especially the Queen. It was a great tripĀ  before Thanksgiving break, and I highly suggest that everybody tries out this trail. It isn’t a huge time commitment, it had great views, and it provided some fresh air. Make sure you bring your potatoes!