Trailhead: 430 Two Trees Rd. Riverside, CA
Length: 8.2 miles RT
Elevation Gain: 2142 ft.
Total time: 4.5 hrs
Dogs: Yes, but please keep reading the post for warnings about animals that will try to eat your pets
Parking: There is a dirt lot at the trailhead for Two Trees; free to park. If this lot is full, you can also park at the lower lot at the end of Blaine. Also, please be aware that the locals get realllll hanky about having cars in the upper lot after sunset, so do your best to get back before it gets dark.
CMT isn’t a known thing in the hiking world and it’s basically something I made up. This trek will take you to the Big C on Box Springs, up and over to the Moreno Valley M, and then back down to Two Trees, where your car is parked. It’s a route I’ve been wanting to do for awhile, and since my ECBO hike was canceled due to weather, I thought I’d try it last weekend.
I started the hike at the Two Trees Trailhead lot which is located at the end of Two Trees Road in Riverside.
I did not, however, take Two Trees up, instead I meandered down the paved road in the opposite direction until I got to the trail to take you down to the lower lot. You’ll see a sign to the left marking the trail about .1 mile down the road.
Continue down this trail for about another .1 mile until you get to the road, and cross over
In about .2 mile you will come to the railroad track.
Keep in mind that the railroad is a working one, so walking on it like this dude did isnt smart and is considered trespassing. There are several trails off to your left so you do not have to walk next to the railroad. As long as you keep paralleling the railroad, you’ll be fine, and also not squished by a train.
About .6 mile down, you will come to the trail for the C on the left. There are several trails that will take you up, but I recommend the one right off the railroad tracks, as it’s not as grueling as the others.
This is the part of the trail that is the hardest, as you gain a lot of elevation fairly quickly. There are also several trails that lead up to the C, some slightly more challenging than others, but as long as you keep heading upward, you will eventually get to the Big C.
This is your first landmark and the end of the hardest part of the trail, so well done in not dying.
The Big C was put up in 1957 by UCR students. The C stands for California, as in University of California, so you’re welcome for answering that question you’ve had for years. At 132 by 80 feet, it is the largest C of any of the UC Campuses so take that, losers.
The C is a great resting spot to take in some of the views. From here you can “C’ (hahahahahaha) Baldy in the distance off to the North-ish and a great deal of the Inland Empire. Unfortunately this trail does have quite a bit of graffiti from losers who think graffiti is cool, although this has become less and less since they’ve blocked off the trail that most people use to get to the C.
After you’re done here, go ahead and climb to the top of the C (it’s surprisingly grippy) and keep heading up the mountain towards the radio towers.
Once you make your way up to the towers, make a left and head down towards the fire road.
Now here’s a warning. I had my little rascal, Smalls with me during this trek. Right as we got to this part, two, fluffy, well-fed coyotes came bounding across the road, no more than 10 feet in front of us. There was another one waiting around the corner, tail wagging, ready to eat my dog.
Dogs being on leashes is a controversial issue that I’m not going to get into. I will say that I do not ever let my dog off leash while hiking for the specific reason that Smalls does not mind me or stick by my side and there are wild animals out there…snakes, coyotes, mountain lions, and even owls will see little dogs as food. Just the week prior the ranger informed us that a small off-leash dog had been taken by an owl.
These animals are extremely unlikely to attack a human, but a dog is a different issue. Coyotes will pretend to play with a dog to lure them off and then attack. And, because Smalls is Smalls, as soon as she saw these Coyotes, she got excited thinking “OOOOOH DOGS!” and began pulling me towards them.
“THEY’RE TRYING TO EAT YOU BABY GIRL” I shouted as I picked her up and began making lots of noise until the coyotes were far enough away that I felt comfortable.
Please, people, be careful with your dogs. And small children. Nature is awesome, but we’re entering the territories of wild animals and they’re going to behave like wild animals.
Anyway, after we defied death, we continued heading down the fire road until we got to Horse Trail, which is off to the right of the fire road
This trail is kind of brushy, and had me slightly freaked out about rogue coyotes hiding in wait, but I decided to make the trek up. If you’re not into this, you can technically take the fire road to the M if you turn right at the yellow gate, but this trail is much more interesting because you get to see things like the throne:
And Triceratops Rock:
I also kinda really hate fire roads because they’re boorrrrringggggg. This trail does have some elevation gain, although it’s very manageable and much less strenuous than the Big C trail.
Continue taking this trail up and you’ll end at the fire road for the last stretch of the climb. When you hit the fire road you’ll get some awesome views to the east where you can see Moreno Valley, San Gorgonio, San Bernardino, and San Jacinto peaks.
Head to the right and up the fire road to get to the M. You’ll pass several radio towers, but you’re heading towards the very last set. On the way up, you’ll see that the fire road splits off.
Your inclination (hahahaha) will probably be to take the high road, but go low for this one (sorry Michelle Obama). Keep trekking until you reach the final set of radio towers.
Head past the gate, and you will see the M, which doesn’t look very good from the picture I got because I was too lazy to climb down it and get it from below.
This landmark also gives you spectacular views where you can force your dog to stand on a rock for a photo shoot:
Once you’re done here, head back down the fire road. You can take the fire road down the entire road (borrrrrringgggg) or you can take the Spring Trail for a bit. The Spring trail is fairly hard to find. It’s probably a good mile to mile and a half down the road, and is marked by a sign on the right that tells you there was a fire there.
The Spring Trail is also fairly short. but gives you a great view of Box Springs and Box Springs park
Continue down until you hit the fire road again, and head towards Box Springs Park. Here you can come to the realization that you could have driven up there for the same view but you earned it so that’s way better, amirite?
Additionally if you do ever decide to drive up to Box Springs Park, be aware that the park closes at sundown, so if you do park there and your car is there after sundown you’ll be greeted by an angry ranger with crossed arms who is tapping his foot at you.
Not that that’s happened to me, or anything.
Once you cross through Box Springs Park, head down Two Trees Trail which will be off to the left, after this sign and after that squarish rock on the left.
After 1.3 miles you should reach your car unless you’ve done something terribly wrong, and if you have, don’t call me because I’m not going to help you.
One final note about this hike:
This is completely exposed. Like, zero coverage, bro.
While I didn’t start this hike until 10:00 a.m. I was fine because it was January and cold. If you do this hike in the summer, I strongly recommend it as a very early morning hike (you may see wild burros!) or as an early evening hike.
Also wear sunscreen because cancer isn’t cool.