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In the high country of the San Gabriel Mountains, a lightly timbered promontory rises to a peak elevation of 7283 feet. Some call it "Buckhorn Peak," a name given to the mountain summit by a hiker who placed a register (notebook in a tin can) there years ago. The pine-dotted peak is a great retreat for a picnic lunch, and a good spot to find some solitude. Snow blankets this area in winter, but it's entirely gone by now.

Half the fun (or tedium, depending on your point of view) of going there is the long and superbly scenic drive on Angeles Crest Highway -- California Highway 2 -- the endlessly curling, two-lane road following the crest of the San Gabriel Mountains north and east of Los Angeles.

You begin hiking at a roadside turnout on the north side of Angeles Crest Highway, mile 57.7, just east of Mount Waterman Ski Area. That designation 57.7, according to the numbers stenciled on roadside reflectors, means 57.7 miles from the west terminus of Highway 2 in Santa Monica. Measured from La Ca�ada Flintridge, where Angeles Crest Highway begins, the starting point is about 32 miles to the east. From Wrightwood, on the far east side of the San Gabriels, the driving distance to the starting point is about 26 miles.

From the roadside turnout, walk 0.3 mile northeast on an old logging road to reach a point just below a saddle, where old roadbeds diverge north and east. These old roads loop around most of Buckhorn Peak at or near the 7000-foot contour.

From the saddle, simply follow the main, sparsely treed ridge 0.4 mile east to the summit. There's only a faint trail along that ridgeline. Watch carefully where you're going so you can retrace your steps on the return; there's only one easy way back down.

If you prefer, you can return by way of a rougher and more scenic route: Descend about 0.2 mile through dense woods to the north, where you'll cross the north lateral road following the 7000-foot contour. Follow this level road west and south around the mountain to reach the aforementioned saddle.

This time of year, snow plant (a strange-looking, deep-red-colored, parasitic plant) may be seen poking up from the ground on the slopes of Buckhorn Peak.

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