Big Maria Mountains, Palen Mountains


By: Paul Lipsohn


Paul Lipsohn and Bob Herlihy

As our group assembled in Blythe, it was apparent that the predicted stormy weekend would not materialize, at least until Sunday, and thus cheered, we headed north to locate the Big Maria roadhead. This weekend trip was a good exercise in road finding and was not greatly helped by the outdated topes, although the Triple A, Riverside County map was invaluable. (details will follow at the conclusion of this report.)

From the major wash at pole #45-1 we headed east, following the main trend of the wash for about 1-1/2 miles, then climbed to the ridge running southwest from the peak and followed this ridge to the peak. Sixteen climbers signed in on top of Big Maria, the first group since New Year's Day, and enjoyed lunch amidst spectacular views of the surrounding peaks. We were joined on the summit by one late arrival who had successfully tracked us from Blythe. Returning to the cars, we picked up two more late arrivals then caravanned to a campsite along the Palen Pass road, just north of the McCoy Mtns. Following supper, we enjoyed a pleasant campfire and traditional beverages before retiring.

Sunday morning's high clouds combined with the rising sun to produce the most spectacular sunrise I have ever enjoyed. Snapping shutters prolonged our breakfast and caused a pleasant delay in our starting time. (The grubs in the city wil1 never know what they're missing!) Returning to the Arlington Mine Road and turn off I had missed the previous evening, we followed a poor but passable road about two miles to its end near an abandoned concrete building. Our route followed the wash until due south of the peak, then up the steep talus slopes to the summit. Our party of 19 was the first in nearly two years to climb the peak and was highlighted as Charlie Jones' emblem peak. We returned along the southeast ridge, passing over peak 2841 before dropping to the desert floor and the cars.

This area is a rather pretty spot and appears seldom visited. We found several signs of sheep, including two old heads, as well as good copper and manganese samples for the rock collectors. Prospects for other climbs appear good as well, with the McCoy and Little Maria Mtns. as likely targets.


BIG MARIA MTN. - From Blythe drive northwest on Midland Road (Lovekin Blvd.) for 13.6 miles. At this point a power line crosses the road. Leave the paved road and drive north along the power line for about 8 miles to a major wash at pole #45-1. Park here and proceed up the major wash to the east.

PALEN MTN. - From Blythe, drive northwest on Midland Road (Lovekin Blvd.) for approximately 18 miles. Turnoff to Inca siding is marked by a trash barrel marked "AAA." Turn 1eft and proceed southwest about 1-1/2 miles--cross the railroad tracks and bear left through the junk piles, and then right, and you should be on a paved (Arlington Mine) road. Pavement ends at Arlington Mine--about 9 miles-but the dirt road is excellent for another 3 miles. At the fork marked by several large tires, continue straight (west). This road is not shown on the Midland quad (1952) but starts in section 15 at the end of Arlington Mine road--road is rough but passable. The road running north towards Palen Pass is sandy and probably not passable without four-wheel drive. Proceed due west 2 miles to the road end at about point 1300', section 20 of the Palen Mtns. Quad (1952).

Detailed information for visiting one or more peaks mentioned in this article can be found in the
Desert Peak Section Road and Peak Guides

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