Imperial County High Point Trip Report

Blue Angels Peak (4,548+ ft)

Date: November 20, 2001
Authors: Jennifer and Gerry Roach

This unique county highpoint is located less than a mile from the Mexico - United States border, and you can easily access it from Interstate 8. The exit is 5 miles east of the Jacumba exit. Leave I-8 at the In-ko-pah Park off ramp. Turn east at the stop sign, turn right at the Old Highway 80 intersection, drive 0.2 mile southwest, and turn left onto an unsigned dirt road with a wooden signboard. Follow the dirt road east for 0.5 mile. Two wheel drive cars can and should park at a pullout on the left side of the road that is located just before overhead power lines. Four-wheel-drive vehicles can continue on the old road, which has remnant patches of concrete. Go 1.2 miles south to a BLM Wilderness Study marker, then continue 0.1 mile to a 3-way junction. Four-wheel drives may want to park somewhere in this area. Go right at the 3-way intersection, go 0.3 mile west to a fork, and turn south (left) here. Bear left at the road spurs. When the old road turns east, follow the road up to its end at a mining prospect, which you can see to the left. Look southeast and see a boulder-covered mountain with one huge boulder perched atop its summit that appears ready to topple. Blue Angels Peak is located behind (south of) this landmark.

From the end of the road, hike south on a strong use trail that traces along the right side of the "toppling boulder" summit. There are many trails in this area, and they are not all headed to Blue Angels Peak, but they are heading for the International Border. However, some of the trails come quite close to the summit. Follow your chosen trail south, and leave it just west of Blue Angels Peak. Scramble east up through boulders to the official summit of Blue Angels Peak ("Smuggler BM"). There is a register here, as well as a cairn, but gaze over to the south. The rock summit 0.1 mile south of the VABM is the true summit. From the benchmark, scramble down Class 2 boulders, hike south, then clamber up the next rock summit to the true Imperial County highpoint, which is on the southeast side of the formation (Class 2+). There is a small cairn and a register here as well, and you can identify the correct outcrop by the arch that is right under the highpoint. Our hand level measurements from both summits convinced us that this southern summit is about 18 inches higher, and yes, this southern summit is still in the USA.

From the southern summit it is a mere 0.1 mile south to the international border, which is easily seen with its shiny, boundary marker. Follow a dirt trail, with its accompanying trail of litter, up to a barbed wire fence. Of course, the fence wires have been snipped apart, making it easy to step right through, then it is just a few feet to the 7-foot high boundary marker #231. When we visited this marker, we had overhead visits from two different US Border Patrol choppers, and were glad that we had brought ID with us, since the smaller chopper could have easily landed next to us. It is quite obvious that this "unofficial border crossing" is both heavily utilized and patrolled, so some caution should be taken when hiking to this peak, and walking around the border area.

We used Gary Suttle's book, "California County Summits", for this hike and it proved to be quite accurate, save for a few of the road signs on the dirt road, which have disappeared.