By: John Backus
BIG RABBIT ACCESS
On Saturday, March 14, a private group of us met at the Fillmore Road turnoff on Highway 86 to backpack in and climb Rabbit Peak. We drove in via the route given in the Climber's Guide, west on Avenue 78 from Fillmore to the levee, along the levee to the turnoff, and through a small citrus grove to the start of the jeep trail across the desert. As we were getting on our boots, a car drove up, a man emerged who claimed to be the landowner, and ordered us off. We asked if we could park outside his property and hike across; the answer was NO. There was nothing to do but leave, which we did. (Perhaps the landowner did us an unknowing favor; the weather Saturday night turned very bad, and we might have had a miserable night up on the ridge where we had planned to camp.)
A few days later I went to Riverside and looked up property records in the County Courthouse. I found that Fillmore Street, which on the ground appears to end at the levee at what corresponds to Avenue 79, actually is a public street for several miles further south. Also, a wash running east-west along the levee is a westerly extension of Avenue 79 from further east; whether it is a public right-of-way is not clear, but it can be entered and driven from Pierce Street, one mile east of Fillmore.
Armed with this information, we made another try for Rabbit last Saturday (March 28). We drove down Fillmore Street to its end, parked there, and hiked around citrus groves to the jeep road across the desert which is the start of the trail to Rabbit. We did the peak, and had no problem with landowners either going in or coming out.
The access to Rabbit Peak is now as follows: From Coachella go south on Highway 86 to the Avenue 74 and Fillmore Road junction with 86, turn right and go 2.5 miles to the end of Fillmore Street at a levee. Park there, on the west side, across from a mobile home structure with a couple of barking dogs. There is ample parking, and since it is a public street there should be no objection to parking there. Hike over the levee and down into the wash that runs below it. Turn right and go 1/2 mile west along the wash to where a road crosses it. (The wash is quite sandy, and it may be easier to go along the levee or up along the south side of the wash.) Turn left (south) on this road and go about 100 yards, past a lemon grove on the right, to another old levee, shown on the topo. Go right, past about 1/4 mile of lemon trees on the right, to the open desert and the jeep road which is the beginning of the trail across the desert. Follow this road about 1/2 mile to where the ducked trail across the desert begins.
There should be no trouble with landowners on the above route. If there is, one can go southwest from the end of Fillmore Street across the desert, skirt any cultivated areas by going around them on the left, and then heading due west across the desert, picking up either the jeep road or the ducked trail. Since the desert area is not fenced, posted, or under cultivation, you cannot legally be ordered off any of it even if it is privately owned.
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