Tragedy: Tehachapi Summit Closure

Anyone who knows me or reads my blog, is aware that I hike Tehachapi Mountain A LOT. For me this mountain is not just a climb, but a lifestyle. For over 14 years I have hiked, snowshoed, and jogged up and down the steep slopes year round in rain, snow, sleet, extreme wind, heat, and in perfect weather. The climb has prepared me for countless adventure trips, climbing, biking, and miles of backpacking. However, the BIGGEST benefit the mountain has gifted me with is the opportunity to lead groups of youth and adults up 2 miles and the 2000 feet of elevation gain. The experience of viewing the expression of sheer joy on faces at the summit after being pushed both physically and mentally to the top is well…priceless. The personal accomplishment of conquering this local peak is life changing for many.

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I headed up the mountain on a pre-hike a few days before our school’s annual Tehachapi Mountain climb. Shockingly, about 3/4 the way up we were met with a no trespassing sign with cable and branches blocking the trail. Stunned, we decided to hike on up to check out the situation. Reaching the top, we met our beloved summit stripped of the historical wooden sign and red metal ammo box register. This box held years of notebooks that held stories of history, friendship, love, and family. I was sick, speechless and felt as if I had lost a close friend.

We have since learned that Phillip Wyman, a former California State Assemblyman whose family has owned the property since the late 1800’s has closed the trail to the top. The latest article in the Tehachapi News stated “The trail and the park go to a certain point then it connects to our private property and in the past we have had people who go up there. Particularly since we’ve had logging and other issues up there, we’ve had concerns about liability, safety and criminal activity, poaching and things like that,” Wyman said.

This report was discouraging to say the least. Rumors have it that legal action may be in the works to somehow reopen the summit trail. Once upon a time the Tehachapi area offered 5 major peaks to climb: Cummings Mountain, Bear Mountain, Black Mountain, and Tehachapi Mountain. Tragically one by one these beauties have become off-limits to the public.

My hope is that Mr. Wyman will come to understand the important and positive impact this mountain trail has on our community and grant access once again to Tehachapi’s summit.

Thank you my majestic Friend for countless hours of beauty, physical exertion, and challenge.

Rockin’

Tehachapi MountainTehachapi Mountain from Meadowbrook Park – 2008
Tehachapi Mountain Field Trip Fall 2005
Student Signing the Summit Register – 2009
Happiness at the Top – Fall 2005
Tehachapi MountainView North from the Summit 2010
Record Snow at the Top – April 2010
Top Stripped of Sign and Summit Box – October 23, 2011

27 Comments

  1. This is one of the drawbacks of capitalism. He owns the land, he has the right to keep others off. If we are serious about public access, we need make him a nice offer. Specifically, conservation groups like Sierra Club can purchase the land from him. Speaking of which, the same should be done with Newcomb Ranch on Angeles Crest Highway. Buy it and tear it down. This will discourage many motorbikers to use ACH. They foul the land and intimidate outdoorsman.

  2. I’m also a teacher, and am planning my PCT section hikes around school breaks. I’m considering doing Section E, Agua Dulce to Tehachapi, over my X-mas break, but am having troubling finding good winter weather info for that section. What’s your recommendation? If there was a good section to do in December, what would you recommend?

  3. calebpahl

    Is Cummings mountain open for the public to climb?

    Has anyone been to the top? If so, what was the experience like?

    • Cummings Mountain is definitely NOT open to the public. A big portion of the mountain is owned by a hunting club and there are even surveillance cameras along the forest road to the top. If that is not enough the route sports about a thousand No Trespassing along the way.

      It is one beautiful mountain that has to be enjoyed from afar.

      • Thanks for your response. I’ve never seen Cummings mountain in real life, but I have a pen pal who is in prison very near the mountain and he enjoys being able to see it.

  4. any word on the Free Tehachapi Peak? –Craig Sayler

    • Bruce K Powell

      I used to hike to the top from Camp Earl-Anna back in the late 50’s Before the ammo box ,there was a large glass jar (to put your name in) hidden in one of the cracks in the boulders at the top. Hiking up there is still one of my fondest memories from childhood, it’s a shame that other children will not be able to enjoy what I did-so many years ago.
      BK

      • BK,
        It is very anticlimactic to hike to the no trespassing sign and turn around to go back down. To eliminate that visual for students, I led them up last week to the halfway point where the route transitions from fire road to trail. I think that was better. Gotta say I was really thinking that Phil Wyman would change his mind and open the .44 mile access to the summit. Not so. Thank you for sharing your heart-felt story. I am very sure many families feel the same.

  5. My twelve-year-old son and I hiked to Tehachapi Peak this last Fall for the first time…it was beautiful, wonderful….absolutely spiritual! We couldn’t wait to do it again, and are deeply saddened by this turn of events. I fervently hope the trail is opened up again!

    • Good to hear from you! Hearing stories like this makes it even more critical that some legal permission to enter Wyman’s land be created. Thank you for sharing. Similar experiences with your son has been expressed by so many others.

      Your artwork is beautiful, especially of our beloved Bear Valley.

  6. Hi, my name is Mike. Is Bear mountain closed too? Living in Bakersfield, Ive always looked up there and wanted to hike to the top of Bear Mountain and overlook the valley. Ive decided i wanna do this today. But looking on Google Earth, looks like most of the roads accesing around it are private roads and cant get close to it. Id like to know if there is a way i can hike up there, any trails, or if i need to get anybodys permission… Thank you. Also, if i cant get to bear mountain, I was thinking about Breckenridge mountian. Do you know of any trails up there too?

    • Hello Mike,
      Good questions. Bear Mountain is closed to the public and is on private land. However, here is a road that drives almost to the top of Breckenridge Mountain. i have not been there personally. I love and use the books Exploring the Southern Sierra: West Side and Exploring the Southern Sierra: East Side by J.C. Jenkins and Ruby Jenkins. Breckenridge Mountain is described on pages 36-38. There is also write-up on Summit Post. Hope your day is great getting out in this beautiful weather! Thanks for stopping by.

  7. Luke747woman

    So sad! So glad I made the hike this past Fathers’ Day but was hoping to go again. Seems very selfish of Mr. Wyman. I will be praying.

    • I am hoping for that also. So many people make a goal of making to the top by taking a little part of the mountain over a period of time to eventually make it to the summit. It is no easy feat. Thank you for your comment and stopping by.

  8. Seems like it needs to be turned into a National Park…

    Those books are priceless, please keep us informed if they are found.. We love reading them in the Tasmanian huts.

    • This little closure in our part of the world is definitely is causing a ruckus. It is amazing how a peak can bring about change and reflection publicly and privately. Will keep you posted.

  9. What?!
    I’ve been waiting for my arm to heal and was hoping for a climb before the big freeze. While I can understand the owners concern, I cannot believe its closed.
    As you know, Tehachapi was the first mountain my kids and I ever summited. This park, trail, and climb are among our highlighted life memories.
    I have to say thank you Rockin’ for sharing this great mountain with so many of us.
    Hopefully the owner will let us all experience the quiet summit once again…

    • I think your family made Tehachapi Mountain history when you carried your youngest son to the top, on your back, then quickly whipped out a loaf of bread complete with jars of peanut butter and jelly making sandwiches for your 4 boys. Then on another trip navigated your troop up the mountain in the snow! You are my hero. Here is a pic from one of the trips I have had the privilege to have walked along side you.
      http://flic.kr/p/aD8Zfu

  10. Oh wow!!! I definitely wasn’t expecting THAT!!! How sad! 🙁 I feel like Wyman needs to get his act together, because this is dumb. What will you guys do?! You’ll just have to find another mountain to train on… oh wait… that was the last one. I’m sorry mom 🙁
    P.S. I’m glad you found that picture of me. OH man, those were the days 🙂

    • I am thankful for many memories on the mountain with family, friends, new acquaintances, and students. You are right in the Tehachapi area there is very little left to be hiked on that is not designated as No Trespassing. Funny we live in such a gorgeous natural area and can’t even access miles and miles of untouched land. Hard to comprehend.

  11. That’s terrible! I remember you telling us about how the others were closed and how much you loved hiking there. I hope it changes.

  12. Brandy Watts

    Where is the sign, the ammo box full of notebooks? Our local historians should have those. The signatures are precious … the summit register is like a wishing well in the sky .. only, these wishes were granted…..

    • Boy that is what I would like to know! I have looked forward to reading hiker’s philosophies on life, love, celebration, and heartaches in the notebooks. Optimistically I have to believe that they have been preserved in a safe place. I to have a lot of questions. What incident really spurred this decision? Did the new signs that were installed this last summer have anything to do with it? Who put up the signs to start with? Hunters? Are there really hunters up there? Loggers? I have not seen a logger up there since they cleared the area a few years ago. I have on the other hand encountered bear, wild boar, deer, and an occasionally squirrel. You have brought up important questions. Thank you.

  13. What a sad, sad story. I am so sorry. I know how much that mountain has meant to you and your family. John will never forget his one and only climb! Do you need me to write a letter or sign a petition?

    • Ma Clare, Yep, very sad. I will let you know when I hear more and what the public can do.

    • Glad you joined “Free Tehachapi Peak” on Facebook. Hopefully more information will be up and coming. So many people I think have been inspired by climbing this mountain to do other things they felt might otherwise be impossible.

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