Route: Santa Rosa Traverse (CA)

California, US

Nickademus Hollon posted the route:

"The remote Santa Rosa Mountains crawl up from the northwestern shores of the Salton Sea and stretch out 42 miles northwest before tapering off at the base of the San Jacinto Mountains near Palm Springs. From east to west the ungainly ridgeline extends from sea level to high points at Villager Peak (5,755ft), Rabbit Peak (6,666ft), Dawn’s/ Lorenzens Peak (6,582ft), Toro Peak (8,717ft) and finally Santa Rosa Peak (8,073ft), before ending at 4,000ft at Highway 74.

Toro Peak’s western side has been graded and radio towers now claim the ranges highest point, but step just a few miles east of the ridge and you’re in uncharted territory. The last people to pass over the jagged rocks were likely Cahuilla Indians some hundreds of years ago. Various online sources and a small log book I found atop Dawn’s Peak reported scattered attempts of one-and-a-half half to three-day west-east traverses of the range. To my knowledge no one had ever completed the range from east to west in one single-day push. A total distance of 41.8 miles? It had to be possible."

Hollon & Robert Hunt completed this route in 19h59m16s on 5/23/2015.  Hollon recorded the following splits:

Highway S-22 (sea level) to Villager (5,755ft). Total miles: 7.0, Time: 2:49:00
Villager Peak (5,755ft) to Rabbit Peak (6,666ft). Total miles: 11.0, Time: 4:22:30
Rabbit Peak (6,666ft) to Dawn’s Peak (6,582ft). Total miles: 17.4, Time: 8:52:37
Dawn’s Peak (6,582ft) to Toro Peak (8,717ft). Total miles: 30.0, Time: 16:41:40
Toro Peak (8,717ft to Santa Rosa Mountain (8,073ft). Total miles: 34.2, Time: 17:57:16
Santa Rosa Mountain (8,073ft) to Highway 74 (4,600ft). Total miles: 41.8, Time: 19:59:16

Hunt added this: "Through years of research, the previous FKT appears to be three days & might have used water caches." And posted a complete trip report, pictures, and gps data here.

Later (12/26/2016) an anonymous poster pointed out that the proposed route falls short of a full Traverse of the Santa Rosa Range:

The Santa Rosa Crest originates at Travelers Peak and ends at Santa Rosa Mountain. Starting your traverse from the ridge to Villager cuts off several miles and several thousand feet of gain from traversing the entire geological crest of the Santa Rosa Mountains.

Hunt then returned with Brett Maune to do the complete traverse 3/29-30/2018 - see Hunt's comment below.  The FKT route is for the full traverse.


Although I have climbed several of the peaks mentioned by the anonymous poster, I've always considered them to be merely high points of the badlands at the SE terminus of the Santa Rosa's but upon linking them during a subsequent exploratory run, it became apparent that the poster is correct. I have never heard nor read of anybody completing a traverse of the Santa Rosa's that includes these peaks. On March 29-30, 2018, me (Robert Hunt) and Brett Maune traversed the entire Santa Rosa Crest from Hwy S-22/Travelers (Palm) Peak to Santa Rosa Mtn/Hwy 74 (Pines to Palms Hwy) in 23 hours and 33 minutes. This was a self-supported effort, using water that I had previously stashed on Villager, Dawns, and Toro. The start time was 10:37 p.m. 3/29/18 for a total of 18.6k vert over 49.1 miles. The splits are as follows: Travelers (Palm)---1:14 Pyramid--------------2:48 Rosa Point----------4:15 Mile High------------5:25 Villager---------------6:50 Rabbit----------------9:11 Dawns--------------13:10 Toro------------------20:26 Santa Rosa Mtn--21:38 Hwy 74--------------23:33… A trip report is intended but still slowly emerging from my pile of notes. --Robert Hunt