Gaskill Peak (via Lawson Peak)
Distance - 7.1
- 2000 ft.
Max Elevation Reached
- 3796 ft.
Trailhead - Link
Download Google Earth KML - Link
Download GPX - Link
Gaskill and Lawson peaks are located SE of Alpine, CA and
10 miles north of the International border. They stand right at the SW
boundary of Cleveland National Forest's Descanso district.
This is a moderate hike. For the most part, you walk
on an unpaved forest road which first gets you real close to
Peak and then takes you real close to Gaskill Peak. In both cases the
road passes the peaks a couple of hundred feet below the summits. To
get all the way to the summit, you must leave the established
(this forest road) and head off in the general direction of the peaks.
This road is marked as Forest Route 16S03 in Google Maps and is called
Carveacre Rd. in Schad's description. There are no sign posts at
The forest road is wide but unpaved and unmaintained.
There has been a lot of erosion (as of Feb. 2009) that has resulted in
the creation of several criss-crossing gullys right on the road. There
are lots of loose rocks along the road in addition to loose
gravel. All in all, this is not an easy surface to walk on. Despite the
width of the
road, you will find yourself restricted to one edge or the other,
constantly switching edges back and forth.
You start off heading west-northwest from the trailhead. The
road ascends throughout at a fairly gradual gradient and descends fast
just before it sharply turns northward. This last bit of lost elevation
will have to be regained on your way back. Right where the road turns
north (Schad referrs to the road after the turn as Wisecarver Rd. No
signs posted though, so doesn't really matter!) you can leave the road
and continue heading northwest towards Lawson Peak, which stands tall
right in front of you. Climbing Lawson's Peak requires carefully
finding your trail amidst thick bushes and huge granite boulders, some
as big as a car. Patience and persistence are key. I had to give up and
continue on to Gaskill. The elevation profile below points out the
To get to Gaskill Peak, head back to the road and take it
northward. After walking some distance you get to a trail junction. It is definitely hard to spot, but
a foot trail to the left progressively diverges from road and takes you
right up Gaskill Peak. Enroute, you pass under a couple of mini "tunnels" created by huge boulders leaning
against each other. This trail is faint at several locations so
some direction finding may be necessary. After summiting
Gaskill Peak retrace you steps back to the trail junction
and follow the road back to where you started.
It appears that this trail is right along the landing
approach to SAN. You therefore spot aircraft after another, nonstop,
flying at fairly low altitude.
Started from Trailhead - 8:00 am
Reached Gaskill Peak - 11:25 pm
Started back - 12:00 pm
Reached Trailhead - 1:35 pm
Technical Analysis - Link
Photos - Link, courtesy
Notes - Nice weather. Spotted a couple hiking up during our
return. Witnessed lots of border patrol activity along Lyons Valley Rd.
Gathered later that this area is notorious for illegal border crossings.