DAY THREE HUNDRED AND SIX
The Mission Creek Preserve is part of the 33,000 acre Sand to Snow Preserve System. This includes the Pioneertown Mountains Preserve and is adjacent to the Whitewater Preserve. The Preserve gives access to the Pacific Crest Trail and the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area. To reach the Preserve, take Highway 62 North from I-10 and turn left on Mission Creek Road. Follow the road to the gate and park there.
After driving a few miles along the dirt road you come to this sign.
Beyond that is a locked gate topped by this sign.
There is very good signage at the beginning of the Preserve but later on, not so much.
There is a nice information board but, oddly enough, there's not a very good map for hikers. Later, I'll wish I'd had one.
Right inside the gate there are four little stone structures.
Inside each one there is a picnic table.
I didn't bring a lunch so I start hiking up the "trail". I really hate these trails that have tire tracks on them.
As I'm walking along I hear this weird sound and can't place it. I look down toward the creek and discover what's causing it: water.
A mile up the "trail" is the Painted Hills Wetlands. It is very lush with growth and an impassable thickets.
Beyond that is the parking area for the Stone House. I've got to find out how to get a key to that gate so I don't have to walk all this way next time.
The Stone House is a great structure with screen windows and doors without locks.
It's got a nice comfy chair on the porch.
The inside of the Stone House is spotless with some picnic tables.
There is also a fireplace but it's just for looks.
There are even restrooms.
With flush toilets! I was preparing to hold my breath in anticipation of the outhouse smell.
An old windmill and pump are also part of the property.
I continue on the "trail" up beyond this wilderness sign. This turns out to be a mistake because I should have taken a different route here but there wasn't a sign or map directing me in the proper direction. I found out later there is a section of private land ahead.
But when I got to this gate I wondered what was going on.
I followed this trail around the gate and down to the creek bottom. Upon returning, I found out I should have gone up a different fork of the creek to bypass the private land.
I hiked up the creek until I got to the PCT and had to turn around at that point.
It's too bad, too, because it was just starting to get interesting. Next time I'll know which way to go and I'll see if it's possible to drive just a bit further up the road. There's a lot of interesting terrain up here and I'd imagine in the springtime when there's snow on the surrounding mountains and the flowers are blooming that it is incredible. I'm looking forward to coming back.