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!

Black Star Canyon to Corona

Trailhead11893-, 12247 Black Star Canyon Rd, Silverado, CA 92676
Length: 13.1 miles point to point
Elevation Gain: 2750 ft.
Difficulty: Advanced for the length of the hike
Total time: 6 hrs
Dogs: Yes
Parking: Park at Skyline and arrange for a shuttle (a generous friend, a Lyft, Santa on his way to deliver presents…)

Last year I joined Lazy Ass Hiking on their annual Santa Hat hike which starts at Black Star Canyon in Silverado and ends in Corona. After completing the trek which is all on fire road, I said to myself “Welp, that’s one I never need to do again.”

Unfortunately my roommate who hadn’t done it before didn’t agree with me and coerced me into doing it again this year despite my reassurances to her that 13.1 miles of fire road is even worse than it sounds.

Annnnyway, to do this hike you’re going to want to park at the Skyline trail head in Corona at Foothill and Trudy way and then get a shuttle to take you to the trail head which is about 25 min away. You can probably get a Lyft there, or do what Lazy Ass Hiking does, and hire a pre-school van to drive you to the start.

From the trail head you’ll start walking down the fire road and try not to get shot by owners who are super mad that hikers dare walk past their property. This aggression is traditional for Black Star Canyon, as it’s rumored to be haunted by a land owner who was shot by another land owner due to grazing rights (they took grazing seriously in the 1800s). It’s also said to be haunted by Spanish conquistadors, and Native Americans.

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I mean, if you’re going to be haunted at least have some diversity, amiright?

Despite the possible murder by ghost or non-ghost, this is by far the most enjoyable part of the trail, as there are things to look at besides shrubs. As you continue along the fire road, you’ll come to the turn off for Black Star Falls, a.k.a. Instagram’s favorite photo op for girls in bikinis at waterfalls.

 

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Follow the guy in the Santa hat and hope he’s not a ghost.

Unless you want to go on an 8 mile hike to the falls and not end up in Corona, you’ll go to the left and continue up the fire trail for all eternity.

 

From this point you will have a fairly gentle climb along the fire road while you desperately look for anything interesting. At times you’ll see the ocean, Catalina and Orange County in the vistas behind you, but for the most part it’s shrub, grass, and some mildly interesting rock. Your next landmark will be the sign for the Mariposa Reserve

 

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Through this little dip, you’ll see some different landscape, which will be a welcome reprieve. I also suggest that you take some time to explore some of the side trails for a little more interesting scenery. In fact, just off to the right, fairly quickly after this sign, we saw a trail that lead do some Native American grinding stones:

 

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This was by far the coolest part of the hike.

After you get to the end of the preserve, you will begin your final 800 foot ascent up to Beek’s Place, former weekend home of Joseph Beek who developed much of Newport.

You’ll also get a pretty decent view of the Doppler tower by Beeks, which you should continually point out to your fellow hikers by going “Hey, it’s the Doppler!” They won’t get annoyed by that at all and they’ll think it’s super funny.

 

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Eventually you’ll end up at the ruins of the old home. From here you can climb the .5 miles to the Doppler. I’ve seen the Doppler several times in my life, so  on this trip I was like “Nah, I’m good, Bro.”

From here, continue down the fire trail to Skyline, and down the trail back to your car.

 

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And there you have it. You can brag to everyone that you walked from Silverado to Corona, and declare that you never have to to it again (until your roommate makes you do it next year).

San Jacinto Via Tram

Trailhead: Palm Springs Tram
Length: 11.5 miles RT
Elevation Gain: 2500 ft.
Difficulty: Moderate (due to length)
Total time: 6 hrs
Dogs: Nope
Parking: Free, but $25 for the tram

Want to try your first peak but still need to work up to true peak bagging? Then San Jacinto is a great first trek for you.

The first tram ascends at 8:00 a.m. but you can arrive at 7:30 to purchase tickets. I’ve heard that the line is crazy, so you may want to get there even earlier to avoid the crowds. Please also note that this tram rotates your view as you go up, so if you’re afraid of heights this might not be your favorite thing ever.

Once you get to the top, you’ll head down a never ending, windy, paved road that is super fun to come back up when you’re tired. Head toward the right to the ranger station where you’ll fill out a permit to enter the San Jacinto wilderness. Keep the permit with you and you’ll return it in a mailbox on your way back.

The trail to the peak will be on your right. It’s fairly well marked except when you come to round valley and you come to a juncture with no sights that say “Peak this way, bro.” Stick to the right, and you’ll get there.

The trail meanders along with a relatively easy elevation gain. There are some spots where it does climb fairly quickly, but take heart, traveler, as it will calm back down again.

About 3 miles in you will reach Wellman Divide which has a preview of the sights you’ll have at the top.

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After Wellman Divide, you will enter the switchback section of the trail, which, again gains elevation fairly gently and offers great views of the valley below.

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The switchbacks on this section are quite long, but there are only two of them. It was at this time we also heard a search and rescue helicopter overhead that was blasting its siren above us. I later found out it was one of our friends from Instagram, who didn’t even offer us a ride. THANKS A LOT, ERIC.

Once you finish the switchback section, you’ll go to the right and meet up with Marion Trail, and you’ll only be .3 miles from the top. When you reach the end of this trail you’ll see a big rock heap that you get to climb for the rest of your summit. Once at the top, head to the left and you’ll see the San Jacinto sign, where if it’s like when Boo and I went, people decide to sit right by or walk through because they like to ruin your pictures.

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One of the best places to take in views is at the far side of the rock mound, which is a bit harder to get to which means you’ll have fewer people.

There are a lot of haters out there for people who do San J via the tram, including one at the top who got all judgy with me and Boo for not climbing Marion. I informed him that I’ve actually done the Marion trail four times, and climbed San J via Cactus to Clouds (one of the hardest day hikes in the US), so I’ve suffered quite enough on that mountain, and he can just mind his own business.

Also, it’s a 11 mile trek so it’s still a workout and a great option for people who are new to peaks as a first try.

Also, who asked you for your opinion, Mr. High and Mighty?

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And for more aggression, on the way back down, Boo and I ended up running into THE Marion for whom the trail was named. I mean, we assume it was her because when we passed her she passive aggressively threw up her arms and sighed in annoyance for reasons we didn’t quite understand. We figured that she must own the trail and our presence there must have annoyed her so I apologized, letting her know we didn’t realize she owned the trail.

Hopefully you won’t run into so many haughty people on your climb.

 

 

 

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.

Terri Peak

Trailhead17801 Lake Perris Dr, Perris, CA 92571
Length: 5 miles
Elevation Gain: 1000 ft.
Difficulty: Moderate (completely exposed)
Total time: 2 hours
Dogs: Yes, on leash
Parking: Parking at trail head; $5 to get into the park

Last week my dear friend Emily invited me to join the City of Perris event to climb Terri Peak at the Perris State Recreational area. I’d never hiked in that area, so I was like “a’ite, coo.”

We parked by the campsite and made our way up to the trailhead which is located to the right of the parking lot. The the trail was marked off for us and I’m glad it was, otherwise I’d still be there looking for the peak a week later. There are several trails that go in all directions. I’ve read that there are a couple of ways to get up to Terri Peak, and California Through My Lens gives the advice to just keep following the trail upward and you’ll get to the peak. Another site said to just keep going left.  Both seem accurate from my recollection.

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We meandered on the narrow trails that connected to one another, throughout the rolling hills and brush and probably lots of rattlesnake dens. There was a ton of brush on the trail, and I began to suspect that this group hike of 150 people was all a rouse  for the City of Perris to get us to trample down the trail to clear the path. Very clever, City of Perris. Very clever, indeed.

Eventually we got to a fire road for the final push to the top. We were greeted with 360 degree view of the IE.

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After a few moments, we headed back down the way we came. As I mentioned, there are several different ways to do this hike. Summitpost.org has a map that shows it as a loop.

 

Some notes on this hike:

It’s incredibly exposed (like 90% of IE hikes) so, y’know, don’t do this one at noon, or in July. And ESPECIALLY do it at noon in July.

I’d suggest doing this in Winter/Spring. We went when it already had that scorched earth look (again, like 90% of IE hikes), but from what I’ve seen from people who have submitted to @hikeinlandempire, it’s green and covered in wild flowers in Feb-April.

Finally, don’t let the elevation gain fool you. Fairly conditioned hikers are looking at this going “Pfft, 1000 feet over 5 miles, duuuuuuumb.”

This hike is mild at the beginning with rolling hills and elevation at the end. It might seem easy at first but soon you’ll be going “Wait, what just happened? Climbing all of a sudden! So hot! Such exposure! Why didn’t I listen to HikeInlandEmpire’s advice not to to this at noon in July?!?”

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Finally, I’m learning more and more that cities have programs to get you out in nature to enjoy the trails. Here is an Article on the City of Perris Hikes you can take a look at. As far as I know, this was the last one for this series this year, but hopefully they’ll do more soon.  In the meantime, here is a map with several trailheads from Moreno Valley (including a 7.6 mile route to Terri Peak), and here is a guide from the City of Riverside about city sponsored outside activities.

Thanks to the City of Perris for hosting us!

Mt. Jurupa

 

Trailhead11660 Sierra Avenue, Fontana
Length: 3 miles
Elevation Gain: 1200 ft.
Difficulty: Fairly strenuous and completely exposed
Total time: 2 hours
Dogs: Yes, on leash
Parking: Martin Tudor Jurupa Hills regional park

On a whim I decided to try a new trail. I’d heard about Jurupa Hills a few times, but never made my way out there due to feelings of “eh” and reluctance to try new things.

After lazing around the condo for a bit, I ventured out and got to the park around 10:30 a.m. This was mistake.

Jurupa Hills is completely exposed, so at 10:30 a.m. you’re subjected to egg frying heat. If you try this trail, and I suggest you do, make sure you go at a better time. Like, in the late afternoon. Or early morning. I mean, like 6:00 a.m. early, not like 2:00 a.m. morning. Unless you’re hopped up on energy drinks and doing energy drink-related activities at 2:00 a.m. Then I can’t really advise you on when to do this hike.

I do advise you to stop consuming energy drinks at 2:00 a.m., though.

Where was I?

Oh, yes, the trail. It is steep at times, and I was not mentally prepared for it, thinking it was more like Mt. Rubidoux. It’s not. The beginning is pretty strenuous, and there are many “false peaks” that will cause you to shake your fist at Persperous, God of Hiking* because you feel like he keeps lying to you and you’ll never get to the top.

When you get to the top, it will be a wide, flat surface, like an extinct volcano, or a mesa. The views from this area are unparalleled.  You’re right in the center of the Inland Empire with 360 degree views, although if you go on a hazy day, you’re just going to see haze, and that’s not very interesting. On a non-hazy day, you can see all of the So Cal six pack. This trail is also covered in graffiti, although I’ve seen worse.

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One final tip: I would suggest doing this trail sometime in the spring. It’s gorgeous when it’s green and surrounded by wildflowers, but like everywhere in the lower Inland Empire, turns to scorched earth once summer hits.

 

For more information, check out the post on Nobody Hikes in LA.
*I just made that god up.

Joshua Tree: Lost Palms Oasis

Trailhead: 33.736992, -115.810888
Length: 7.2
Elevation Gain: 422 ft.
Difficulty: Not strenuous, but completely exposed
Total time: 3.5 hours
Dogs: Negatory
Parking: You have to pay to get into Joshua Tree. There is parking at the trail head

 

When you visit Joshua Tree, you’re probably over in the Jumbo Rock area of the park, going “Oh, this is the coolest thing ever, nothing is better than this, blah blah blah” but you’re wrong.

Lost Palms Oasis is awesome. I mean, the first part of the trail after Cottonwood Springs is pretty blah, but after that it gets amazing.  The trail leads you to the largest concentration of  native fan palms in Joshua Tree. On the way there you see beautiful rock formations in the canyons, tons of ocotillo cacti, and get an amazing view of the desert, including the Salton Sea.

Oh, also, you may see BABY DESERT TORTOISES CROSSING THE ROADDDDDD!

Directions:
You don’t really need many. The trail is extremely well marked, and if you get lost, you probably shouldn’t be hiking to begin with. Get to the parking lot and follow the signs.

When you get to the end, you’ll see some incredibly impressive views of the Oasis. You can also hike down into the Oasis, which is more tricky, as the trail is not maintained. When I went there was quite a bit of brush that made good nesting grounds for rattlesnakes which I had to ward off because the person I was with at the time was a 6’3″ baby.

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I  went at the beginning of May, so the wildflowers were few and far between, but I hear it’s amazing in early spring. Also, due to the exposure I did end up getting overheated so I had to pour water over my head and sit in the one sliver of shade there was on the trail.

On your way back you can also take a side trip to Mastodon Peak (unfortunately no mastodons live there) which takes you by the ruins of a mine and an old village. I TOLD YOU THIS TRAIL IS COOL.

I did not take this side trip, though, because of that overheating thing.

One big drawback to this hike is that it IS at the other end of the park, away from all the other sites, so I’m going to help you plan out your trip. Ready?

  1. Spend a day or two or whatever you want visiting the okay but not as impressive stuff near Jumbo Rock.
  2. Stay the night at Cottonwood Campground which is near the trailhead (AND HAS RUNNING WATER!!!)
  3. Hike Lost Palms Oasis in the morning
  4. Exit the park on the other side. You can get to the 10 from there and go home OR even better, visit the Salton Sea

Man, I’m so good at this planning stuff. I’m basically Kayak.com but for hiking. Ooh, new website idea.

Hayak.com: for all your hiking trips!

I AM GOING TO MAKE MILLIONS.