Morton Peak is a rewarding hike with nice views very close to Redlands and the rest of the Inland Empire cities. It follows a service road rather than a trail, but this adds convenience in options for distance and mode of travel. This hike is well worth it for the views at the top and also for the diversity of vegetation, wildflowers, and bird life along the way, which differ from the low-elevation dwellers of the valley.
For the full experience, begin at the lower parking area just off CA-38, then hike or bike up the winding road. It is possible, however, to drive the first mile of the road and park at a gate. This is at an elevation of 3,940 feet, which leaves only a 3-mile round trip hike with 680 feet of gain. The hike culminates at the Morton Peak Fire Lookout Tower, which is sometimes staffed, and you may be invited into the tower for an even better vantage point.
This spot grants an eyeful of Inland Empire and the surrounding landscape. Eastward is a picture-perfect view of Mill Creek Canyon, which frames San Bernardino Peak and the San Gorgonio Wilderness. To the north are Keller and Slide Peaks, and to the south is Mount San Jacinto.
Note: Morton Peak Lookout used to be available for overnight rentals to the public, but this is not longer offered. Call Mill Creek Ranger Station at 909.382.2882 for more information.