Bertha Peak

Trailhead701 Blue Bird Ln, Fawnskin, CA 92333
Length: 6.8 miles RT
Elevation Gain: 1325 ft.
Difficulty: Moderate
Total time: 2.5 hrs
Dogs: Yes, on leash
Parking: There is parking lot with bathrooms. You’ll need an adventure pass which you can get at the rangers station or any sporting goods store.

Last Saturday @ill_profe and I had planned to hike Sugar Loaf in Big Bear but there was some event going on where cars were lined up the streets and bouncy houses were at the trailhead and we were like, yeaaaaahhhhh passssss.

Since we’d made the drive out I racked my brain for an alternate and came up with the very memorable name of Bertha Peak, named after Phineaus H. Bertha, discoverer of mumus.

Bertha Peak starts from the Cougar Crest trailhead. When you come to the fork in the road, continue to the left.

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You will begin to meander through a forest that is rather fairy tale like.

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You’ll climb steadily, but gently, and if you get tired there’s like 1,000 benches for you to sit on and enjoy the views.

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Seriously, guys. I’ve never seen so many benches on a trail. Benches to the left of you, benches to the right of you. There was a sale on benches and EVERYONE GETS A BENCH!

Also, on the way up we saw a bunch of cairns which we kicked down while shouting “LEAVE NO TRAAAAAAACCEEE.”

Look, I’m a big fan of cairns when they’re marking a trail (sorry Sierra Club) but when they’re just hanging out there because someone was bored and serve no purpose I kick ’em down so they don’t contribute to soil erosion and encourage others to leave stuff they shouldn’t. You may find this overkill and say “Oh, come on Kristin, you’re just being a prude, let people have their dumb rock stacks” to which I say ::insert emoji shrug::

Anyway, there’s not a lot of opportunity to get lost on this trail so just keep on heading up. At some point you’ll see some towers in the distance, and that’s Bertha peak. You’ll come to a juncture where the PCT splits off but there’s a sign letting you know Bertha is a-that-away (right… it’s to the right. Go to the right, because that’s where it is.)

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This is where this fairly gentle trail starts getting real. It becomes a fire road but a fairly steep fire road. I mean, not like Cactus to Clouds steep, but steep enough to where you go “Boy howdy, this is kinda steep.”

Apparently, you’ve also stepped into a time warp where people say things like “Boy Howdy.”

Annnnyway, at one point on the fire road, you’ll see a track off to the right. You can take that up if you want a slightly more strenuous trek, or just stay on the fire road. Eventually you’ll make it to the top for some amazing views of the lake

 

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There are also some buildings up there you can walk around for alternate views of the area. You might also find a guy up there stacking rocks out of boredom and think “when he leaves Imma kick those suckers down.”

Or maybe that’s just me.

When you’re done, go back the way you came.

All in all Bertha Peak was a great backup to the trail we were originally planning on doing. I especially recommend it as an introduction to elevation training.

Or carin kicking.

 

 

Havasupai

Trailhead: Supai, AZ 
Length: 8 miles to the tourist office; 2 miles from tourist office to campsite
Elevation Gain: 2400 ft.
Difficulty: Strenuous due to the heat
Total time: 3-4 hrs
Dogs: No
Parking: There is a dirt lot at the trailhead, but do know that it’s packed and you may have to park fairly far down the highway. Also be aware of people double parking and blocking you in–that happened to one of our group members the first time she did it.

IMPORTANT NOTE: You NEED a permit to hike Havasupai. There is no day hiking allowed. I keep getting messages from people saying “I’m gonna try to go next week!” and I’m like, “aww buddy… that’s not gonna happen.”

Permits open up on Feb 1 for each year and sell out within hours. You can get a permit by going to the website or calling in.  We were only able to get a permit for one night which meant we really had to work to make the most of our trip.

Here’s how it went.

We left Riverside after work on Wednesday and arrived at Hilltop at 2:30 a.m., ready to go. We stopped several times for bathroom breaks and made the unfortunate decision to stop in the McDonald’s in Needles for food, which was apparently overrun because the Jack in the Box had flooded.

As a result, McDonald’s was out of just about everything and my egg McMuffin came out cold.

Don’t do that. Take an extra hour and stop in Kingman instead. So many more options there. So many, many more.

Anyway, Needles is about 2 hours from the reservation. One thing I don’t remember anyone preparing me for was the drive in on the reservation in the dark. Animals roam free there and so the entire time we were dodging elk, deer, cows, coyotes, and bunnies that would dart in front of the car. It was like “Where’s Waldo” for spotting animals that would kill you if you didn’t find them before they ran into your vehicle.

After being terrorized by suicidal animals for an hour and a half, we were very happy to get out of the car and start hiking. Unfortunately we were told “Nah, bro” by the ranger and told we’d have to come back at 4 a.m. before we could go down.

Exhausted from the drive, we took a quick, uncomfortable nap and then started the 8 mile trek to the village.

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The hike is relatively flat with the exception of the first mile, which steadily declines and tries to murder you with sand and gravel (danger was a running theme this trip). On the way we saw a giant scorpion (more danger), the moon set, and the sun rise.

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We made it to the village at 6:45 a.m. and picked up the permits. This is where I noticed that my shoe had ripped. At the beginning of the trip. Awesome.

 

 

After buying a $10 roll of duct tape to fix the shoe which did not work AT ALL, we began the descent to the campsite which was another 2 miles down. On the way to the site we passed both Navajo Falls and Havasu falls but my back hurt from the pack, and the heat began to climb, and the lack of sleep made it hard for me to care much about any “dumb miracles of nature” because I just wanted to take my bag off.

We finally made it to the camp and set up our hammocks, and took a quick nap in the 105 degree heat. It was glorious.

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We chose to camp next to the river which felt great to dip the feet in due to the heat, which I am sure was sent from Satan himself. In the afternoon we decided to head over to Mooney Falls to cool down.

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Because I wanted to save my hiking shoes now that they had a hole, I decided to hike in my new Salomon water shoes which turned out to be a pretty solid plan because they were comfy and grippy.

The hike to Mooney isn’t far from the campsite, but the hike into the waterfall area is one of the sketchiest of sketch descents in the history of sketch. It’s like something out of the Goonies only you don’t have any of Data’s gadgets to save you, and you spend every moment envisioning your inevitable plummet to death.

To make matters better, there’s only one path up and one path down which is the perfect recipe for a traffic jam.

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The amount of people who could SEE us waiting at the middle trying to get down who then decided to go up so we couldn’t move was astounding. To those people, I would like to say: you suck.

We waited at the sketch part for 10 min before we decided to stop being polite and start getting real and elbow our way down.

While we were waiting at the crossroads I looked at @katierm1821 and said “NEVER AGAIN”

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Once we got there we went exploring, jumped off the rope swing and swam into a cave. I then looked at Katie and said “Ok, totally doing this again.”

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After a couple of hours we made our way back up sketchville and to the camp. We would have liked to hit Beaver Falls, since to get there you have to go through Mooney, but we were too tired and decided that needed to be saved for another trip.

While eating dinner the mosquitoes came out and were like “Oh, heyyyyy” so I pulled out the 98% DEET and still got four bites, one of which has turned into some weird red rash on my leg, so I’m not really sure what that’s about.

Even at 9:30 it was still hot as I lay in my hammock but I mananged to crash hard until I woke up two hours later FREEZING. Supai weather, make up your mind already.

Despite this, I woke up after an awesome night’s sleep in the hammock. I know you’re not going to believe this but I’m not being sarcastic. It’s true. Sometimes I AM sincere. Like only sometimes though. Anyway, it was actually great night’s sleep, and much needed if I was going to backpack 30 lbs through the canyon.

We decided to break up the trip back to the village by stopping at Havasu, Navajo, and 50ft falls.

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Havasu falls was super pretty with lots of fun pools where I managed to almost drown myself with the use of a floatie (danger!) because I really am just that special. We saw some guys taking some heavy duty tubes into the river leading away from the falls and found out that you can ride about 20 minutes down the river and get to camp. This was noted for our next trip.

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When then headed up to Navajo falls where we passed the frybread stand we tried to visit the night before only to find the packing up because it closed an hour early. This time they we found them unpacking their goods and were informed it would be an hour before they would open.

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Why do you hate us, frybread lady?!?

Next to Navajo Falls is 50ft falls. Most miss this place because it’s a little difficult to get to; it requires swimming through the reeds and waters unknown that probably have alligators or boa constrictors or the Lochness Monster waiting to kill you. Because of that there’s no one there and you have it all to yourself.

 

 

Uh… so definitely don’t go here, it’s too scary, and we didn’t go exploring and find a cool cave or anything like that at all. Just look at my pics instead of going yourself or telling anyone about it.

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From 50 Ft. Falls, we went to the lower part of Navajo where Katie played with rocks and found some cool fossils and I almost got swept downstream by a current I clearly underestimated (danger!).

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After a couple of hours there we made our way back to the village where we FINALLY got frybread because Keto diet be damned, am I right?!? I had a cell signal and was informed our AirBnB was canceled and we watched, bitterly, at the lucky bastards taking heli rides out of the canyon, knowing we’d be carrying our packs up the hill of death at the end.

I slipped my hole-y shoes on and we left the village around 6:20 and made our way back to Hilltop.

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Two of us arrived at Hilltop just after 9 p.m. We had the full intention of sleeping in the car, but when the other two arrived later we all laughed at that idea and at midnight drove an hour and a half through the reservation, dodging animals (danger!) and to a Motel 6 (danger!) full of tweakers (danger!) and someone else’s hair in the beds (oh, dear God, danger!)

The next morning we did as all travelers do after a long, arduous 48 hours… treated ourselves to #IHOB (Danger!)

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And that was it. Our whirlwind trip was over.

Here are some tips to prepare you if you’re planning on going:

Gear:
Water shoes:
I used these. They were light and I was able to walk from waterfall to waterfall without having to change. My only complaint is that they did allow sand to get into them so I had to rinse them out several times. Don’t cheap out on the water shoes. I know you can get a pair for $15 on Amazon, but you’ll be more comfortable if you make the investment, and it’ll give you incentives to go on more water hikes. Also, Solomon please feel free to sponsor me at any time.

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Backpack:
I used this one which was given to me by my roommate who is downsizing her backpacking gear. It served me well, but she’s about 6 inches shorter than I am, and the pack is an XS and about an inch too short for me. The first day was agony, but the second day I seemed to have it adjusted to where it was pretty comfortable and I was finally balanced.

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The best thing about this is that the water pouch is removable with straps and you can use it as a day pack. If you don’t have this option, I highly recommend bringing a smaller bag as a day pack so you don’t have to lug your giant backpack around.

 

Sleeping:
Three of us used a hammock and it was a good call due to the heat. I don’t think you need a specific hammock–any one will do. The campsite has tons of trees for hammocking. Don’t forget a mosquito net as well, otherwise you’ll be spending the night swatting bugs away from your face.

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I also used that down blanket from Costco everyone is in love with (and rightfully so) and borrowed my roommate’s Thermarest pillow which was so awesome I bought my own as soon as we got back.

Food:
I’m not much of an eater when hiking. I’ve actually trained myself to do long distance hikes without any food. I always bring food, but very rarely do I need it.

I had to eat on this trip. A lot. The heat just sucked out all the energy to function on the most basic level. Being on a ketogenic diet and vegetarian, my main staples were Joseph’s low carb pita bread with single servings of peanut butter and sugar free jelly, vegetarian beef jerky, and One Bars. Also, this coffee is awesome but super not low carb.

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I slightly over packed on food, but I cannot stress this enough: bring enough food. There is also a spigot at the campsite and the tourist office to fill up on water, and a store and cafe at the village for extra supplies.

Clothes:
I wore a wicking t-shirt and leggings on the way down and brought another t-shirt for the way up. I also brought a swimsuit, a pair of shorts, several pairs of socks/underwear. There isn’t much privacy to change into other clothing, especially if you don’t have a tent, so normal rules of hygiene don’t really apply.

Man, camping is seriously gross.

Also, after my recent trip to Mammoth where bugs were biting me through my clothes, I treated my clothing with this spray to avoid that happening gain and I *think* it worked, as everywhere I was bitten was exposed skin.

 

Also bring:
-Electrolytes (I had both salt tabs and Nuun tabs)
-Container for water besides your water bladder
-Cup for coffee (can also double as a bowl)
-Spork and knife
-Burner to heat water/food or two friends with burners (score)
Smell proof bag and to hang your food so the critters don’t get it.
-Towel
Cooling towel (don’t get the iCool ones from Walmart, they suck)
-Bug spray
-Sunscreen
-Sunglasses
-Hat
-Rope/paracords for hanging food and mosquito nets
-Grocery bags for trash

 

Some other notes:

Trash:
I read quite a bit of reviews talking about the trash in the village, and yes, there was some trash. But you know where the trashiest part was? The campsite. The campsite full of tourists. That trash was ours, not theirs. If you don’t want a trashy campsite, PACK IN PACK OUT. And if you see trash, pick it up and take it out. The previous campers left their trash at our site. Did we leave it and say not our problem? Nope, we took it out. Stop complaining and then doing nothing to solve the problem.

Pack Mules/Horses:
I’ve seen many posts on the state of the pack animals that the villagers use to charge tourists to carry up backpacks. Many have said that they are mistreated. Although I saw a few horses that looked awfully thin (they were not being ridden but were grazing at their stables), most of the animals I saw (with the exception of one that was bleeding from its pack) looked healthy and cared for. Two of the people on the trip that had been before also said that they looked much better than what they’d seen the year prior as well, so perhaps they’ve taken action on this.

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I don’t know enough about the issue to preach to anyone, either way. I’m not a vet and I’m not saying they’re in perfect health, and things may be happening that I haven’t seen. But maybe they’ve made progress. Regardless, I felt better carrying out my own pack.  But that’s me. Do your research, use your best judgement, and go with what your conscious allows.

 

That Hill: I’d heard everyone talk about how horrendous the last mile was on the way out and had been dreading it the entire time, but to be honest I’ve been up worse hills backpacking, like the first mile of San G, or Whitney. Going late in the day was a good plan–we were able to relax and enjoy the waterfalls on our second day there, eat at the cafe, and then go through the canyon as it got cooler. Most people you see will leave early in the morning, but you miss an entire day of waterfalls. It depends on how many nights you get and how much time you want to spend there. But the one thing I can say is don’t go during the middle of the day, because you’ll probably die. Probably. (Danger!)

 

Their Land: And finally, this should go without saying but apparently it needs to be said. This land belongs to the indigenous people of the Havasupai tribe.

ALL of the land in the US is land of indigenous people.

We are guests on their land. We need to respect them and be grateful they’ve given us the opportunity to see this place.

The night we were in Havasupai, a group of campers making the ah ah ah “Indian call” sound that even I, shamefully, made as a kid before I grew up and realized that it’s racist. Other tourists shouted at them to be quiet and one person shouted back “You’re not my dad!”

Ugh.

Stop being disrespectful. Treat people with kindness. Be respectful. BE GRATEFUL.

Really, why do I even have to type this out?

 

All in all Havasupai was an amazing time, even with the heat, the exhaustion, and the numerous, unidentifiable bug bites all over my legs. I am hoping I’ll be fortunate enough to do it again next year and perhaps make it to the confluence, which is now on my bucket list.

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Most importantly, the trip was with good people who supported one another down scary cliffs, monster infested waters, and tweaker motels. It was definitely a memorable time and despite my hesitation (see: terror) over the heat situation leading up to the trip, I am so, so glad I went. XOXO hike fam.

Kid & Stroller Friendly Hikes

Photo courtesy of Matthikes7.0

Over the years I have received several questions on stroller and kid-friendly hikes in the IE. Since it’s such a common request, I put out the question to HikeIE followers and boy did you guys deliver.

Please note that I have not personally done all of these trails so if you have questions, I suggest you do some research via the Googles, because that’s what I’ll end up doing to find the answer, and there’s no reason to have a middleman… person… in all of this. When I was an adviser and one of my students asked me a question, I would first respond with “Did you Google it before asking me?” nine times out of ten they would sheepishly turn around and go back to their desks. 

Google is your friend. Ask the Google.

 

Some notes:

  • Mileages: All listed mileages are RT
  • Strollers: When it says “Stroller friendly” it is because someone actually said they used a stroller on it or I’ve personally seen someone using a stroller. Fire roads are usually stroller friendly but they may have an incline so that doesn’t mean they’re easy. Also I know nothing about strollers so I can’t tell you if your Baby Hikerton III stroller is going to be good enough or not. Although with a name like that I would REALLY hope it’s good for hiking.
  • Uphill: Where relevant, I’ve added elevation information. Everyone has their own level in terms of what is strenuous and what is not, so please use this info when making a decision. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t know every one of my follower’s hiking abilities.
  • Kids: I often get questions asking me if I think their kid can do a trail… and my response is to shrug and say “I dunno, bro, can she?” Every kid is different. There are ten-year-olds that can’t walk a mile and there are three-year-olds that can climb Mt. Baldy (#Harperhikedit). I don’t know your kid but I’ve provided as much information as I can for you to make that decision on your child’s ability.
  • Adventure Pass: many trails require an adventure pass for parking. You can pick these up at a ranger station or any sporting goods store (Big 5, etc.). Passes are $5 for a day, $30 for a year, or $35 for two annual passes. Also, if you have an annual National Parks Pass you can use that as your adventure pass–you just need to display it from your mirror.
  • Updates: I plan for this to be updated so if you have suggestions on additional hikes, please send me a DM via Instagram or email me at: hikeinlandempire@gmail.com

 

And finally, if you go out there and something isn’t exactly kid or stroller friendly, please DO NOT YELL at me, man.

I’m a person. A person with feelings. Please remember that I’m trying best to be helpful. That being said, if something is wrong, corrections can be sent to hikeinlandempire@gmail.com.

And now, on to the hikes!

 

Riverside/Moreno Valley/Corona/Perris/Murrieta:

 

Box Springs Reserve
Riverside/Moreno Valley, CA
Various mileage; can be stroller friendly

Anyone who follows HikeIE knows that Box Springs is one of my favorite places ever. It’s best visited in the spring when the hills are green and wildflowers are blooming. The main road is a fire road that is stroller friendly with several other trails branching off. If you’re lucky you’ll see wild burros, hawks and various other wildlife. There are also boulders for the more adventurous kids to climb.

You can also take the fire road to the Moreno Valley M with about 1800 feet of elevation gain for a 7.3 mile RT hike. But you don’t have to go that far to enjoy the park.

Parking is $5 using the honor system at Box Springs Park; however it does close at sundown so be sure to leave before then or a ranger in a Jeep will come find you and yell at you… not that that’s happened to me or anything.

Leashed dog friendly. Please note that little dogs are susceptible to owls/hawks/coyotes in the area (one was just taken last week) making it even more important that you keep your dog on a leash.


Hidden Valley Nature Center
Riverside, CA
25 miles of hiking and equestrian trails; stroller friendly fire roads.


Open Saturdays 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Parking is $5.
Dog friendly but a fee of $1. Dogs must stay on leash


Pumpkin Rock
Norco, CA
1.2 Miles; 370 ft elevation gain; not stroller friendly.

This hike does have a pretty steep incline but it is a fairly short trek. There are numerous trails that branch off to get there, but as long as you head towards the pumpkin you’re fine.

I wouldn’t recommend strollers and please make sure your shoes have some grip. I took a kiddo there recently and he fell a couple of times due to the steepness, but he got up like a champ!

Street parking
Dog friendly


Mt. Rubidoux
Riverside, CA
4 miles at 500 ft. elevation gain; Stroller friendly paved fire road.

This is an extremely popular hike and for good reason—paved, and kid friendly, great views and a castle at the top! Although the castle kind of smells like pee 😦

In my opinion the best time to hike this is on Sunday afternoons when it is a little less crowded.

Parking is free at Ryan Bonaminio Park or on the street.
Dog friendly; please keep your dogs on leash.


Moreno Valley Hiking Trails at Trailridge Way
Moreno Valley, CA

This one was sent to me by a follower but we’re not sure exactly what the trail is called. She says it’s by the Walmart off Moreno Beach and is a flat terrain where she takes her six-year-old for walks. From the pictures on Facebook it looks pretty stroller friendly. She says it is clean, quiet, and safe. 

This follower parks at the Wal-Mart.
Looks to be dog friendly 

If you happen to know what this trail is called, please let me know!


Santa Rosa Plateau
Murrieta, CA
Tons of trails with various mileage. Some stroller friendly areas.

This one might be a drive but it’s definitely worth it if you have kids. Tons of wildlife and different trails that lead you do adobe structures, through fields, and if it’s the right time of year, vernal pools. A lot of exposed areas so bring sunscreen.  

No parking fee, but a usage fee of $4 for adults, $3 for children.
No pets allowed.

*Read the HikeIE write up


 

Sycamore Canyon
Riverside, CA
Nature Center with over 25 miles of official trails and guided hikes; not stroller friendly

Hikes are usually .6 miles and last 45-60 minutes, easy enough for small children. Strollers are not recommended. Check out their calendar of events

No parking fee
Leashed dog friendly


Skyline
Corona, CA
Fire road that tops out at the Doppler for a total of 11.5 miles; stroller friendly fire road.

The great thing about Skyline is that you can turn around at any point. The elevation gain is that of a typical fire road; however it is completely exposed so mornings or afternoons are suggested.

Within Skyline you can also explore Tin Mine Canyon for a total of 4.5 miles and 695 elevation gain making it good for kids. Hagador Canyon at 4.2 miles and 606 feet of elevation gain is also an option. There is TONS of poison oak on these side trails so keep your kids close. Both offer beautiful scenery. Strollers are not recommended for these side trails so if you need to bring one, I suggest to stick to the fire road.

Parking is free on Foothill; however, this is a very popular trail so it’s recommended to get there early to get parking.

Dog friendly

*Read the HikeIE write up


UCR Botanic Gardens
Riverside, CA
4 miles of hilly trails; not stroller friendly

Over 40 acres of gardens with plants from throughout the world. This is a gem of the UCR campus. They often do special events such as moonlight tours.

Parking by dispenser is $2 for one hour and $3 for two hours.
Not dog friendly.
Open 8:00 a.m. to Sundown and closed on administrative holidays.



Terri Peak
Perris, CA

4.6 miles with 954 ft. elevation gain; not stroller friendly

This hike is recommended for kids that are more conditioned and offers beautiful views of Lake Perris.

Parking: This is in a recreation area, so it is $10 to get in but it does give you access to the lake.
Leashed dogs.

*Read the HikeIE write up



Upland/Claremont/Rancho Cucamonga Area

Claremont Loop
Claremont, CA

4.9 miles; 823 feet elevation gain; stroller friendly fire road.

A popular fire road trail with views of the Inland Empire. This trail is completely exposed so morning or afternoon is recommended.

Parking is $6 at the trailhead
Dog friendly


 Etiwanda Falls
Rancho Cucamonga, CA

3.4 miles 790 feet; not stroller friendly

This is a fairly popular trail that features a waterfall at the top. It is completely exposed so morning or afternoon is recommended.

Parking is free at the trailhead
Dogs are not allowed

 


Icehouse Canyon
Mt. Baldy, CA
Mileage depends; not stroller friendly.

Technically this 7.9 miles RT to the Icehouse Saddle, but you don’t need to go that far with kids and I wouldn’t recommend you do. The first part of the trail is the part that’s great for kids although it is not stroller friendly. It’s shaded, with a stream to follow and has little elevation gain. Just stop when you get to the crazy rocky area. 

Adventure pass required for parking and the lot fills up VERY fast on the weekends, so get there very early (early as in 6 a.m.) or in the afternoon when hikers are coming back.

Leashed dogs are allowed.



Johnson’s Pasture
Claremont, CA

4.3 miles with 843 feet of elevation gain; Stroller friendly fire road.

Views of Claremont and Upland. Several reviewers suggest to use Alltrails on this one as it’s easy to get lost.

Parking is free at Thompson Creek
Dog friendly

 


Pacific Electric Bike Trail
(Various)
18.1 mile trail with various entry points. Stroller friendly, paved or crushed granite. From the site:

The segment in Rancho Cucamonga includes a 10-foot-wide, concrete trail for bikes and the same width side path of decomposed granite for running, walking and horseback riding. The segment in Upland is asphalt, and is nicely landscaped, leading through residential neighborhoods and commercial corridors before connecting to Claremont.”

Several parking locations
Dog friendly

 


Potato Mountain
Claremont, CA
4.6 miles with 1289 ft. elevation gain. Stroller friendly fire road.

A popular trail on a dirt fire road. Shaded for a great deal of it except as you get closer to the top. Two dirt lots are at Evey Palmer Canyon and Mt. Baldy Rd.; however this is a very popular trail so it can be hard to get a spot.

Parking is free. Please also know that car break-ins are extremely common here–I actually had my passport stolen–so do not leave ANYTHING valuable in your cars.

Dog friendly  

*Read the HikeIE write up


Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden
Claremont, CA
Stroller friendly

86 acres of botanic gardens featuring native California Plants, a library and several tours and educational activities.

$9 adults; kids $4; under 3 free.


Redlands/Yucaipa/Loma Linda

San Timoteo Nature Sanctuary
Redlands, CA

3.8 miles with 200 ft. of elevation gain. Stroller friendly although it is slightly sandy in one part

This is a 200 acre preserve that is cared for by the Redlands Conservancy. Parts of this trail are exposed so be sure to bring sunscreen.

Parking is free
Leashed dogs only

 


Hulda Crooks Jedi Trail
Loma Linda, CA
5.6 miles with 1000 ft. elevation gain. Not stroller friendly.

According to the reviews you’ll probably want Alltrails and GPS as the trail is not clearly marked.

Parking is free
Dog friendly

 


Los Rios Rancho/ Oak Glen Preserve
Oak Glen, CA

2.4 miles with 357 elevation gain. Stroller friendly fire road.

This hike features a lake and is very kid friendly. It is suggested to check out Los Rios Rancho’s site for family friendly activities including apple picking.

Parking is free
Leashed dogs OK


Socal Mountains

Ernie Maxwell
Idyllwild, CA
4.8 miles with 875 ft. elevation gain; stroller not recommended.

A shaded trail with wildflowers. Five people recommend this one when I did the call for suggestions, so it must be good!

Adventure pass required
Leashed dogs only

 


Heart Rock
Valley of Enchantment (Crestline), CA
1.7 miles with 227 feet of elevation gain. Not stroller friendly.

I grew up in Crestline so I have a soft spot for this place. A great hike for kids that leads you down into deep creek where there is a heart shape that has been carved out by water fall over the years.

What’s super cool about this hike is that you can see grinding stones used by Native Americans if you look hard enough.

Parking is in a dirt lot; not sure if you need a pass, so you may want to have an adventure pass just in case.

Leashed dog friendly 



Heaps Peak Arboretum

Sky Forest, CA
.75 mile with 90 ft elevation change; stroller friendly dirt path.

The Sequoia Trail takes you through the grove that was planted in the 1930s and is particularly pretty when the dogwoods are blooming.

Adventure pass required
Leashed dogs only.  

What’s best is that you can go to the very famous Santa’s Village afterward! I used to get gingerbread men at the bakery there as a kid. There was no reason to mention that right now other than the fact that I’m hungry. 


Lake Gregory
Crestline, CA

2.3 miles; 65 ft elevation gain; not stroller friendly

Another one from my hometown! This trail is awesome and I used to run it in High School. Well, “run” is an overstatement. I used to barely trot along it in High School. Anyway, the trail is shaded, beautiful and definitely kid friendly. In the springtime you can see frogs! Or at least you used to be able to. 

Parking is free at the San Moritz lodge (if you park at the entrance to the swim area it’s $10)

Dogs on leashes are allowed

*Read the HikeIE write up


Outside Riverside/San Bernardino Counties:

Carbon Canyon Park
Brea, CA

2.5 miles with 75 ft. elevation gain; Stroller friendly dirt path

10 acre redwood forest, the only one of its kind in Southern California. The park also has kid friendly activities including three parks.

Parking is $3 on weekdays, $5 on weekends or you can use an OC Parks Pass.
Dog friendly


Red Rock Canyon
Lake Forest, CA

4.2 miles with 420 ft. elevation gain; not stroller friendly

A relatively easy hike that features red rock similar to what you would see in Arizona. There is also a lot wildlife, including mountain lions, so be mindful. 

There is a parking fee (you pay at the kiosk)
Not dog friendly


Eaton Canyon  
Pasadena, CA
3.8 miles with 592 ft. elevation gain; not stroller friendly

This hike features a 40 ft. waterfall and wading pool. The last third of the hike is the prettiest part, as it’s shaded and involves numerous water crossings.

Parking is free but fills up quickly on weekends
Leashed dog friendly


Michael D Antonovich Trail
San Dimas, CA
6 miles with 475 ft. elevation gain. Not stroller friendly as there are stream crossings.

Trail features a lake and is good for kids, but has poison oak, so please be mindful. Reviewers also says that it can be somewhat easy to get lost, so Alltrails and GPS are recommended.

Free parking
Dog friendly


Monrovia Canyon Park
Monrovia, CA

5.8 miles with 1279 ft. of elevation gain; not stroller friendly.

Has a waterfall and is shaded; good for kids who can handle the distance.

$5 parking fee weekdays, $6 weekends
Dog friendly


Palomar Observatory
Aguanga, CA
4.8 miles with 754 ft. elevation gain; not stroller friendly

This shaded trail takes you to the top of Palomar Mountain where there is an Observatory with three large telescopes. The observatory has been in operation since the mid 1930s and has discovered dwarf planets and comets.

Adventure Pass required or pay the $5 usage fee
Dogs on leash


Sturtevant Falls
Arcadia, CA

3.25 miles, 400 feet elevation gain; not stroller friendly.

One of the nicest and most scenic waterfalls in the area. Lots of shade and greenery, but also lots of bugs in the summer so it’s best accessed during the winter or late fall.

This has a pretty decent hill at the end when you’re coming back so probably best for kids who are willing to make the climb.

I’m not going to lie to you, parking for this is horrendous. Literally one of the worst parking experiences you may ever have. Like, you might have flashbacks and night terrors kind of bad. It starts from the same trailhead as Mt. Wilson and I’ve gotten there at 6 a.m. and the lot has been full. When you arrive in the afternoon, you will see cars parked with half the body on the highway, three miles down the road (I’m not exaggerating).

Your best bet is to do this on a weekday if you do not want to get there super early. Adventure pass is also required.

Leashed dogs OK

 

Castle Rock & Bluff Lake Reserve

TrailheadBig Bear Blvd, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
Length: 5.8 miles
Elevation Gain: 1300 ft.
Difficulty: Moderate
Total time: 4 hours
Dogs: Wouldn’t recommend on this trail.
Parking: Parking at trail head on the side of the road (free)

The trailhead here goes right off the highway, right between two blind curves so have fun crossing that road.

Follow the trail up and you’ll end up on the right side of Castle Rock when you’ll see a split in the trail. Take the trail to the left at the split if you want to head to Bluff Lake, unlike what we did, which was go to the right and end up in a wash somewhere.

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The trail we should have taken

This was played off as an “accident” but I’m pretty sure the person I was with was checking out good locations to store a body.

We ended up backtracking and, yet again took a wrong trail (my pick this time) which ended up in us off roading until we got to the fire road. We meandered along that for a bit until we got to a fork, and made a left towards a locked gate and the ruins of a cabin that said “Private Property.”

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From AlltrailsBe sure before crossing into Bluff Lake Preserve you contact and get permission from The Wildlands Conservancy (909) 797-8507, there are rare plants and meadows here, be careful where you tread.

I’m not going to lie to you, we 100% did not get permission to go on the property (and didn’t realize we were supposed to). We crossed over some greenery to a rock that overlooked the lake. A very nice volunteer ranger politely told us we were in a restricted area, asked that we stay on the trails, and didn’t yell at us for being the bumbling, habitat-destroying jerks we were. He didn’t even kick us off the preserve and instead suggested to check out the Lodge Pine, which is a 450 year old tree that is over 100 feet tall (rare for that type of tree), and the amphitheater built by the YMCA that had a very bayou vibe.

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Bluff Lake is a very cool place with lots of interesting flowers (the ranger told us they change by the week) and rock formations. It’s well worth the visit.

From here, we back tracked and ended up on the correct trail. We made our way up Castle Rock, which required a bit of climbing, but has a great view of Big Bear Lake:

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While there is some elevation gain on this trail (and even more if you go the wrong way and have to climb back up), this is a fairly easy trek that has a lot of payoff. I’d recommend planning for a half day trip here. Castle Rock is a great place for a lunch or early dinner with a great view.

Learn more about Bluff Lake at the Wildlands Conservancy page.

Blue Mountain

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