Doty Trust to Crestlawn Memorial Park

Trailhead: Doty Trust Park 5404 Golden Ave, Riverside, CA 92505
Length: 5.1 miles
Elevation Gain: 1653 ft.
Difficulty: Moderate
Total time: 2-3 hours
Dogs: Yes, on leash
Parking: Lots of parking at the park

About a week ago I needed something to make me happy after a dentist appointment because dentist appointments are the worst, so I decided to go for a hike. Tired of Roob-sing it 5 out of the 7 days of the week due to the stupid time change making it all dark and murder-y on other trails, I decided to investigate other options close to home and found Doty Trust Park, which features over 100 miles of trails (I actually can’t find anything that backs up the 100 miles worth of trails part, I just happened to run into a person who I follow on IG while I was coming down who told me that)!

This blog write up will focus on getting to the Crestlawn Memorial, which is a Flag and a Cross located several peaks over from here you start. The first day I went it was near sunset and since I didn’t know the trail, I did not finish the trek entirely because I did not want to die and have the headline be “Avid Hiker Gets Lost in Hills; Dies From Being Eaten by her Own Dog.” I went back the following Saturday when there was a break in the rain.

The trail starts off at the park. You’ll see a fenced trail on the west side of the park. Follow that rail until you see a break in the fence to a hill that climbs pretty steeply

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This part is like, steep, y’all. But it will be the most difficult part of the trek, so just get up there and stop your complaining already.

From the top of the hill it’s a hiker’s delight as you can see tons of trails for exploring the numerous rolling hills in the area, and you can even get to the Great Norco Pumpkin from here which makes for a more exciting trek than the one people usually take.

 

From here, you’ll descend a bit as you head toward an old telephone poll that looks like a cross (that’s not the cross you’re looking for) and over to a flat top hill area that I named “Flat Top Hill Area”

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As you get to Flat Top Hill Area, you’ll see there’s a trail that goes over the hill, and one that goes around it. I suggest you take the one to the right that goes around it, unless you want to be like me and go over it and then have to go down a super sketch trail that isn’t a trail and have your dog jump ahead of you, jerk back because you’re not as fast as she is and she’s attached to you, and have her look at you in confusion and anger, repeatedly, because she doesn’t understand how leashes work.

If you take the trail to the right, you’ll come out in the same area. Here you will see a few more hills.

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Follow that trail up to the middle and go to the left. Here you will skirt around the hill and see the ugly, industrial part of Ontario, but also Baldy in the distance, so it’s got that going for it.

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Finally, as you skirt around this hill you’ll see the memorial in the distance.

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Keep on climbing, and you’ve made it!

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From here you have spectacular 360 views where you can see Baldy, Wilson (boooooo), San J., San G., and San B. Additionally, you can read the memorials someone painted on the rocks.

Once you’re done here, head back from whence you came. Because there are so many trails meandering in and out of the area, be sure you keep an eye on where you’re going. I got side tracked and almost ended up in Norco.

Also if you don’t want to go back down that steep hill at the beginning, you can descend to the left at the part after Flat Top Hill Area.

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This will skirt along the side of the hill and as long as you keep going down, you’ll be spit out on a paved road that leads you right back to the park.

This trail system is just as close to my house as Rubidoux is and is much more interesting, although I still would not roam around there in the dark. I also recommend doing this trail in the Fall/Winter/Spring because it’s super exposed. Both sunsets I caught there were spectacular. It’d also make a great Sunrise hike for those weirdos who like to get up early.

Also here’s a picture of Smalls because I can.

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Six Pack of Peaks – Arizona

Oh, hey internet.

So, as I’ve mentioned I’m an ambassador for the Six Pack of Peaks, a hiking challenge created by Jeff from Social Hiker. The challenge started with six progressively higher peaks in Southern California and has grown to include multiple regions throughout the US because apparently, Jeff doesn’t want me doing anything but hiking as I try to complete each challenge.

This year Jeff added a “winter series” based out of Arizona. This series, created by Richard Oppelaar a.k.a. FoxTrax on Instagram, is a series of  hikes make you want to die in a different way than the Socal Six Pack in that they are short but so steep you feel like you’re perpetually on a stair master.

I had a few days off around the holidays and I asked Richard if he thought this was possible to do in three days. He suggested a plan (he was probably laughing manically while doing so) and I suckered… I mean invited my friend Sheri (a.k.a. Wheelzabub, the talented artist behind the ye olde Hike Inland Empire logo) to join me in my quest to complete the series. She texted back, and I quote “it looks like fun.”

LOL, what fools we were.

Below is the the itinerary of the trip we took. Richard did an excellent job on the trail guides for the main Six Pack of Peaks site and I’m super lazy, so rather than writing my own versions, I’ve linked his posts below. I have added a few tips and commentary to let you know the real deal about what to expect.

 

General Advice:

Three day plan: So the first piece of advice I will give you if you’re looking at doing this in three days is: DON’T.

Do it in four days, guys. Seriously. You should do it in four days. Don’t drive 5.5 hours back after doing Flat iron. Stay another night. Have some beers at Four Peaks. Get a good night’s sleep so you’re not dozing off while driving home and you have to pry your eyes open Clockwork Orange style.

Really.

Truly.

Do it in four days.

Timing: Now that I still haven’t talked you out of doing it in three days, my next word of advice is that it’s going to take you longer than you think it is. You’re going to be looking at a 6 mile hike and think “Yeah so that’ll be three hours.” But it’s not going to be. It’s going to be 4.5-5 hours. Because these trails are difficult.

Lodging: Don’t ask me about where to camp. Because we, my friends, stayed in hotels. Hotels with marginally comfy beds and showers. Did it cost more? Yes. But for $90 each for two nights WE LIVED LIKE KINGS!

Temperature: Newsflash: the desert is cold in the winter. It never got over 50 degrees, and most mornings it was in the 20’s. IT WAS COLD, Y’ALL. Bring layers.

Okay,  now that those items are covered, onto the schedule. This is based out of my condo in Riverside, so don’t be mad at me if you live in San Diego and it takes you longer to get there because contrary to what you might think, I don’t know where every single one of you lives.

 

Day 1
Leave Riverside 6:00 a.m.
4 hrs 49 min 

 

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Piestewa:
Distance: 2.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,126 ft.

2701 East Squaw Peak Lane, Phoenix, AZ 85016

This was one of my least favorite of the peaks. It was super crowded and I felt like I was a Hollywood wannabe startlet looking to get discovered while hiking (that’s a Runyon Canyon joke, people).

The parking for this one is fairly challenging if you get there later in the day. As we made our way down the road we began to see a long line of cars parked on the side, which is never a good sign. Luckily we sharked the small parking area for awhile and we snagged a spot.

Fun tip: the trail head is on the left, just after the gate next to the parking lot. It was also under mega construction so a lot of it was fenced off.

(14 min drive to)


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Camelback:
Distance: 3.1 miles
Elevation: 1,246 ft.
6131 E Cholla Ln, Paradise Valley, AZ 85253


Soooo you can’t park at the trail head–you have to park on 64th street and walk up. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a spot near East Cholla Lane and you’ll have a 0.3 walk to the trail. If you’re Sheri and me, you’ll be .7 miles a way and you’ll have a mile walk to and from the trail head. On the plus side, there were quite a few Lime and Bird scooters laying around so you can use one if you’d like to take a scooter to your hike. Sheri kept suggesting Lyft, but ride sharing less than a mile to a 3 mile hike was beyond my capacity of acceptance. 

Of the two urban hikes, this was my favorite. It was, what I thought at the time, a challenging hike. But I was young and naive then, and had no idea what challenging was.

 

Stay night in Tucson (2 hr drive)

 


Day 2
Leave 6:00 a.m.
(26 min drive to)
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Wasson Peak:
Distance: 7.1 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,886 ft.
King Canyon Trailhead, Arizona 85745

 

Wasson Peak was a nice reprieve from the crowds and steepness of the day before. The peak is located in Saguaro National Park. When we went it was during the #TrumpShutDown and when we went to turn off to the trail head the road was closed.

Determined not to let Trump ruin our hiking, Sheri and I basically became Galileo and navigated ourselves to the Sendero Esperanza trail head. While it added on about another mile (rt), we were able to take this easy going, meandering trail to the peak which lulled us into a false sense of security that “maybe this challenge won’t be so bad after all!’

LOL, dummies.

Pro tip: the drive to the next peak has… not a whole lot of eating options. Unless you want to stop at the one McDonalds on the way or have gas station Subway, you should probably bring your lunch.


(1 hr 21 min drive to)

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Picacho Peak:
Distance: 2.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,986 ft. 

Hunter Trailhead, Picacho Peak, Arizona 85141 

Imma be straight up with you when I say I’m not sure how this is a hike sanctioned by a state park. This is the most cuckoo bananas hike I’ve ever been on and I hiked Cactus to Clouds which is supreme cuckoo bananas. Sheri accompanied me about half way up before she tapped out due to height-a-phobia, so I completed it by myself.

She was the smart one here.

This hike involves vertical climbs where you cling to cables and regret every decision that you made that led to that moment in time. I felt like I was at the climbing gym but I didn’t have a harness or mats to save me from my inevitable plummet down the side of a cliff. This video does not really do it justice.

This was just one of the very many obstacles I had to climb solo. The only people nearby was the weird family that was ahead of me that gave me the creeps, and I was gonna be super bummed if they were the ones that found my body.

Once I made it up, I sat for a good 20 minutes knowing that the way down was going to be 1,000 times more terrifying than the way up. After a few deep breaths, I stood on my wobbly legs to make my way down. As I left the sanctity of the only flat part of that trail, was confronted by a family that had three women in BONNETS AND DRESSES huffing and puffing on their way up who looked at me as if to say “Suck it up, pant lady.”

I somehow made it down the trail without dying.

Pro tip: While I’d brought gloves, they were the thin kind you’d wear hiking in marginally cold weather. I highly recommend wearing work gloves as mine kept slipping down the cables I was desperately gripping to avoid my death.

(1 hr. 15 min drive to)

Stay night in Tempe

 

Day 3
Leave 6:00 a.m.
(1 hr. drive to)
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Fremont Saddle:
Distance: 4.8 miles
Elevation: 1,496 ft.

Peralta Trailhead, Peralta Rd, Gold Canyon, AZ 85118 
*Get there early to get parking

The day before we were to finish the challenge, my friends Tom and Kristal messaged me and told me they were planning on completing it, too. Tom offered to drive to the trail head, which I was stoked about because I was garsh darn tired of driving. I was less stoked that I ended up forgetting my hat in my car and had to buy a black sequined hat from a gas station. Why did I choose that hat? Because it was the best option.

Despite that, this hike ruled. It was nice, and gentle, and had a cave, and cool stories about the Lost Dutchman‘s treasure buried in them thar hills and it didn’t demand I stair step at all!

Unfortunately, Sheri’s knee became injured and this was the last hike she was able to complete. Although now that I think about it, maybe she knew what was coming…

 

(42 minute drive to)

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Flatiron:
Distance: 6.6 miles
Elevation gain: 3,147 ft.

Siphon Draw Trailhead 6109 E Apache Trail, Apache Junction, AZ 85119 

Oh, Flat Iron. Flat Iron, Flat Iron, Flat Iron.

Flat Iron goes like this: an almost flat trail for a mile that then leads to a super steep slip and slide section and then class 2 scrambling for an hour and a half. The route up is both physically and mentally exhausting as it’s not so much a trail as you trying to figure out which rocks you might actually be able to climb if you can angle yourself a certain way and hold on for dear life. I recommend you use gloves for this hike as you will use your hands almost as often as your feet as you scowl at some brightly dressed trail runner hopping boulders and passing you with ease.

The “scary” part is known as the wall, a 10 ft vertical climb that is scarier going down than coming up. There is an alternative route off to the left that is marginally better and you can use it if you’re stuck behind a never ending stream of 10 year olds wearing Keds, or whatever version it is that kids wear these days that are inappropriate for such an excursion.

While Tom, Kristal and I were crab walking up and down rock slide city, Sheri lounged around ghost town that was a little bit down the road, drank a beer, watched a fake gun fight, and pursued the mineral shop for overpriced gems. We kind of hated her. We took solace in the fact that our view was probably better than hers.

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We finished with the hike around 4:45 for a total of about 5 hours for the climb. Sheri and I left Tom and Kristal who would continue the challenge with Wasson and Picacho the next day. I definitely think that getting Flat Iron out of the way on day one and finishing with the two urban hikes before heading home was the smart decision, and it’s one I would recommend if you can stay three nights instead of two.

So there you have it. The AZ Six Pack of Peaks. I was happy to crawl into my bed after 5 hr. 32 min. drive home and the next day I didn’t get out of bed until 4:30 p.m. 

One might say I was tired.

Total climb for 3 days: 27 miles/11k ft. vertical gain.

If you’d like to sign up for the Arizona Six Pack of Peaks you can do so here. The challenge runs until April. 

 

 

 

 

 

A Tale of Terror: Strawberry Peak

Trailhead: Red Box Picnic Area
Length: 6.8 miles RT
Elevation Gain: 1794 ft.
Difficulty: Moderate
Total time: 3 hrs
Dogs: Yes, but read on for what happened to sweet little RescueSmalls
Parking: Parking lot across the street. You will need an adventure pass which you can get at a ranger’s station or any sporting goods store.

Gather ’round friends, for I have a tale of terror to share. ‘Twas the time I trekked up Strawberry Peak.

I remember it like it was yesterday. Fires swept across the lands of the Six Pack of Peaks, closing several of the trails. Jeff named alternates, and as an ambassador, I felt the obligation to complete these alternates, including the sweetly and cunningly named named, Strawberry Peak.

It started off as any other day. We parked and crossed the street to get to the trail head. And the trail, it was gentle.

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Ah, but the peak, she lures you in like a siren before she takes you as her victim.

We traversed through switchbacks with mild elevation gain and into an Oak Grove before coming to a junction where we turned right. “This is easy,” we remarked, as we merrily made our way through the trail.

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We climbed higher and higher as we skirted around the mountain and then saw it…the final ascent.

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The terrain quickly changed, becoming steep and rocky and we needed both hands and feet to climb it. Many false peaks awaited us as we made our climb. The heat began to rise. And then, the pokey plants began to multiply, stabbing us from the left and from the right.

Sweat began to pour down our temples. We came to what seemed to be a fairly begin stretch of flat land where we had to traverse between a row of pokey plants. We came to one plant which was vibrating with a buzzing sound. As Smalls and I walked through she started panicking. I felt stings on the back of my legs and arms. I screamed out in pain.

“GO!” I yelled as my fellow traveler turned to check on us.  “It was the plant,” I panted. “The plant was filled with fire ants!”

I already had welts from the bites. Smalls was spinning in circles, biting at her haunches. We looked around and saw them–fire ants, everywhere. On the ground. In the plants. On the rocks. This mountain was theirs.

Weary, we pressed on, determined not to allow the mountain to defeat us. I carried Smalls for a bit, as she was too afraid to continue on her own. I slipped and fell on some rocks as I tried to move up with a terrified K-9 wrapped in my arms.

And finally, we made it, and were treated to a terrible view of overcast skies surrounded by So Cal Brown.

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After a short stint at the top to gather our strength, we made our way down. On the descent, we were smarter, as we’d learned the ways of the mountain. I picked up Smalls and carried her over the fire ant bush, although she clung to me in terror as we made our approach. We seemed to enter a time warp, as the trek back was never ending. It was as if the peak was pulling us backward, unable to let us leave. We could see the parking lot, but it never seemed to get closer.

But then finally, the road. And the picnic area which so sweetly concealed its portal to hell.

We sat down on the bench, weary travelers, indeed. We had survived, but would we ever be the same?

 

So, in case you didn’t get it from this post, Strawberry Peak sucks.

 

 

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.

CMT in Box Springs

Trailhead: 430 Two Trees Rd. Riverside, CA  
Length: 8.2 miles RT
Elevation Gain: 2142 ft.
Difficulty: Moderate
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.

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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.

 

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Continue down this trail for about another .1 mile until you get to the road, and cross over

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In about .2 mile you will come to the railroad track.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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:

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And Triceratops Rock:

IMG_20180120_114002.jpg 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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This landmark also gives you spectacular views where you can force your dog to stand on a rock for a photo shoot:

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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.

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The Spring Trail is also fairly short. but gives you a great view of Box Springs and Box Springs park

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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?

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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.

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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.

 

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

 

Hike to the M at Night!

Trailhead: Hidden Springs Park:  Hidden Springs Dr, Moreno Valley, CA 92557
Length: 4 miles RT
Elevation Gain: 1300 ft.
Difficulty: Moderate
Total time: 2.5 hrs
Dogs: Yes
Parking: If you do this during the day you can park in the park’s lot. If you do it at night do not park there unless you plan on sleeping in your car overnight because they’ll lock you in. I recommend parking in one of the neighborhoods nearby and walking to the trailhead from there.

 

Every year the City of Moreno Valley lights up the M on the side of the mountain. Last year Alex and I planned to hike it last year but it started raining and I was like “Wahhhhhhh rain!”

This year we decided to try again and take the Blue Mountain Crew up for some holiday festivities. We planned to meet at 5:30 p.m. with Alex leading the way, but he was running late and we were getting cold, so part of the group decided to start the climb.

I’d hiked to the M three times prior to this adventure, twice using the Hidden Springs trail and once via Box Springs, but all in the daylight and all with someone else leading. So as you can guess… I got us kinda lost. But if you really think about it, Alex was the one who was late, so it’s basically HIS fault!

Anyway, to avoid the mistake I made, go to the left when you get to the upper parking lot, not to the right, even though there is a sign that says “Trail” that is very misleading. If you go to the left you will climb steadily up the trail and across the ridge which will give you views of the city below:

 

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The trail branches off quite a lot, but as long as you stay going upward and to the left for the first section, you should be fine.

You will come to a traverse between two different sections of the mountain, and then begin curving off to the right. Again, just keep heading up the trail. Right as you curve around the mountain you should see the M lit up in the distance.

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Usually the M is just lit up with white lights but this year the City made it a sweet, sweet light show!

 

When you get to the bottom of the M, the trail becomes fairly steep fairly quickly. Keep climbing until you get to the M. When you get up there be sure to touch it BECAUSE THOSE ARE THE RULES! If you don’t actually touch the M it means you weren’t actually there. Or you can do what we did and stand on it.

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We also scrambled up the top of the M for some more amazing views:

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Sang the Blue Mountain Crew anthem:

 

Listened to words of wisdom from Katie:

 

 

And watched Alex… I guess we call this dancing?

 

After we had our fill of Christmas cheer, we headed back down.

 

 

All in all this ended up being one of my favorite hikes of the year. A good workout with a fun destination. Some things to note about doing this in the dark:

  1. There are sections that are very steep and slippery, especially when you get to the M. Wear good traction!
  2. The M has great grip, but the constant changing of the lights is blinding so, y’know, be careful
  3. I mentioned this at the beginning buuuuuut… DON’T PARK IN THE PARK PARKING LOT AFTER DARK, BRO! THEY WILL CLOSE THE GATE AND YOU’LL GET STUCK!

 

The lights should be up until New Year’s day. Happy Holidays!