Before you begin look around.  The large granite blocks around you were formed from melted magma that cooled underground 60 – 100 million years ago.  Erosion from the constant wind and occasional rain has removed all of the softer material leaving the rocks of Bass Hill the way you see it today.

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Begin your hike at the gate at an elevation of 2900 feet.  Following the old asphalt road towards the historic Hilltop House, you will encounter the flora and fauna typical of the Mojave Desert.  A committee of Whiptail and Side-blotched Lizards, Jack and Cottontail Rabbits, and Antelope and California Ground Squirrels will escort you up the trail.

A quarter of a mile up the trail you’ll find some interesting plants and one of them is Mormon Tea (Ephedra nevadensis).  It is unique in that there are separate male and female plants and instead of regular seeds, Mormon Tea has cones, like a pine tree.

In less than half a mile you’ve reached the top of Bass Hill.  You’ve climbed about 300 feet above the valley floor and now have a panoramic view of the entire area.  Looking to the West you see the Apple Valley Golf Course and in the distance the ribbon of green marks the Mojave River.  This river is one of the few that runs North, does not run to the sea, and for much of its length, the water moves below the surface. Local Indian tribes used the resources along the Mojave River and explorers and early pioneers followed the river as if it were their highway to the west.

The mountain range in the distance to the Southwest is the San Gabriel Range separating the High Desert from the greater Los Angeles basin, with Mt. Baldy in the center of the range, standing proud. Those mountains, along with the San Bernardinos, block many of the storms that move into California from the Pacific Ocean.  It is these mountains that have made this area a desert.  The High Desert is a rain shadow  or orographic desert because we live in the shadow of these mountains and the rain that the storms carry is dropped on the other side of the mountains leaving our area with less than 10 inches of rain per year.

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