Thumb Peak


By: Mark Adrian


On a trip several years ago, I had spotted an elusive formation while driving south on Milpitas Wash Road near the Riverside/Imperial County line. The memory had lingered in my mind for several years, enough to spark my recollection recently. So, while on our way to Arizona, myself and a few friends decided to take a "quick" detour to investigate and explore this intriguely-named peak which is compelling based on the topo map alone. Thumb Peak (1375') is located just inside Imperial County, perhaps 25 air miles southwest of Blythe, CA in the northern third of the newly-created making Pale Verde Mountains Wilderness. An excellent dirt. road (Wileys Well / Milpitas Wash Road) heads south of I10 and is an easy 2WD approach. Several good dirt roads (now red staked) penetrate the Wilderness and offer an easy approach hike, yet there is some cross country as you near Thumb's western face, which takes no more than an hour from the parking spot.

When we confronted the peak, it became clear the route would not be straight forward. In preparation, we had a on 9mm rope with an assortment of slings, harness(es), and other necessary hardware. While there are many technical routes available, I will say we didn't need the rope. However, some may. The route we eventually found up the peak was tricky, but, that was the challenge that capped the day's efforts. As such, I'm reluctant to describe the specifics here and recommend you go out and enjoy the adventure as we did. Below are maps that might assist you. Also in this Wilderness area, for your entertainment, are Pale Verde Peak and not far away, just over the state line in Arizona, are Needle Eye and Mohave Peak (highpoint of the Trigo Mountains). Thanks to Richard Carey and Shelley Rogers for this a memorable climb. Thumb Peak gets a thumbs up.

From I10, 14.1 miles east of Hwy 78, take Wileys Well (road) south for 8.7 miles to the Bradshaw Trail intersection. Continue south, now on Milpitas Wash Road for about six miles to UTM 11 S 695l90E, 3699050N on the Wileys Well 7.5' topo. This is about one mile south of the county line and there's a red staked road heading southeast. Alternatively, you can approach the trailhead by driving 15.6 miles north Milpitas Wash Road from highway 78.. UTM for Thumb Peak is 11 S 0698500E, 3898300N.

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