Kid & Stroller Friendly Hikes

Photo courtesy of Matthikes7.0

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

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

Google is your friend. Ask the Google.

 

Some notes:

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

 

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

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

And now, on to the hikes!

 

Riverside/Moreno Valley/Corona/Perris/Murrieta:

 

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

Street parking
Dog friendly


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

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

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

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


Moreno Valley Hiking Trails at Trailridge Way
Moreno Valley, CA

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

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

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


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

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

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

*Read the HikeIE write up


 

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

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

No parking fee
Leashed dog friendly


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

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

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

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

Dog friendly

*Read the HikeIE write up


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

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

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



Terri Peak
Perris, CA

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

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

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

*Read the HikeIE write up



Upland/Claremont/Rancho Cucamonga Area

Claremont Loop
Claremont, CA

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

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

Parking is $6 at the trailhead
Dog friendly


 Etiwanda Falls
Rancho Cucamonga, CA

3.4 miles 790 feet; not stroller friendly

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

Parking is free at the trailhead
Dogs are not allowed

 


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

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

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

Leashed dogs are allowed.



Johnson’s Pasture
Claremont, CA

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

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

Parking is free at Thompson Creek
Dog friendly

 


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

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

Several parking locations
Dog friendly

 


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

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

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

Dog friendly  

*Read the HikeIE write up


Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden
Claremont, CA
Stroller friendly

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

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


Redlands/Yucaipa/Loma Linda

San Timoteo Nature Sanctuary
Redlands, CA

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

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

Parking is free
Leashed dogs only

 


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

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

Parking is free
Dog friendly

 


Los Rios Rancho/ Oak Glen Preserve
Oak Glen, CA

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

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

Parking is free
Leashed dogs OK


Socal Mountains

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

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

Adventure pass required
Leashed dogs only

 


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

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

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

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

Leashed dog friendly 



Heaps Peak Arboretum

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

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

Adventure pass required
Leashed dogs only.  

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


Lake Gregory
Crestline, CA

2.3 miles; 65 ft elevation gain; not stroller friendly

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

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

Dogs on leashes are allowed

*Read the HikeIE write up


Outside Riverside/San Bernardino Counties:

Carbon Canyon Park
Brea, CA

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

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

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


Red Rock Canyon
Lake Forest, CA

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

Free parking
Dog friendly


Monrovia Canyon Park
Monrovia, CA

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

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

$5 parking fee weekdays, $6 weekends
Dog friendly


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

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

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


Sturtevant Falls
Arcadia, CA

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

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

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

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

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

Leashed dogs OK

 

Castle Rock & Bluff Lake Reserve

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

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

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

IMG_20170521_152546
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.”

IMG_20170521_142910

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.

IMG_20170521_150237

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:

IMG_20170521_162600

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.

Baden-Powell

TrailheadVincent Gap parking lot
Length: 8.7 miles
Elevation Gain: 2900 ft.
Difficulty: Strenuous, but a great first peak, kinda peak.
Total time: 4 hours
Dogs: Yep.
Parking: Adventure pass required

 

highres_454667986

Most hikers in So Cal are all gaga over Baden-Powell, but I wasn’t that into it. To be fair I’d just hiked Whitney and Cactus to Clouds prior to slogging up BP, so I was pretty snobby about it and  complained that it was boring the entire time because in comparison it wasn’t as difficult as two of the hardest climbs in California. Also the view wasn’t as great as the Sierras, because, hello, THE SIERRAS.

However, because it IS so popular I thought I’d write it up so that I can generate more traffic to my site. Wait, did I type that out loud?

What I can say about this trail, is that it’s a reasonable distance with an elevation gain that is just enough to challenge you but not kill you. And, it’s covered for most of it, so you can do this one in the summer and not fry. The trail is also very well kept and extremely easy to follow.

Towards the top of the trail everything opens up and the canopy of trees disappates. You’ll also begin to see limber pines which have been around for over a thousand years.

Wally Waldron, named after a Boy Scout leader, is the most famous of the limber pines, estimated to be 1500 years old, so you know, almost as old as the laptop they make me carry around to do presentations at work.

highres_454675786

The top also has an American flag, which was fairly recently replaced by those conscientious members at Lazy Ass Hiking. This flag actually was donated by a member named Ozzy who was celebrating his brand spankin’ new U.S. Citizenship.

This peak is definitely a great one for someone who has done enough conditioning hikes and is ready to tackle his or her first peak. I’d suggest trying this one between April – October to avoid massive snow fall, although you will probably see some snow into early May #elnino.

 

 

Bear Canyon to Baldy (Return Via Devil’s Backbone)

Trailhead: 6778 Mt Baldy Rd, Mt Baldy, CA, 91759, USA
Length: 6 miles to the peak, another 3ish to the notch and then take the ski lift down because if you have to walk another step you might die.
Elevation Gain: 5740 ft. You will climb all of this in 6  miles. It will make you tired and sad.
Difficulty: So hard you will cry like a baby.
Total time: 8 hours
Dogs: Don’t do this to your poor dog. I don’t care if he IS a “really good climber.”
Parking: Adventure pass required, as is a shuttle. Have someone park at Manker Flats, and another drive you to the ranger station where you will start the trek.

To get to the trail head, walk up Bear Canyon road (across the street from Mt. Baldy Lodge) until you get to the trail head. Getting there is a little tricky, so I recommend you check out Hikingguy.com‘s turn by turn directions.  Actually, you should just check out his site for any hiking instructions. I don’t know why you’re even here.

Anyway, I’ve done this trail twice because apparently I didn’t learn the first time. Both times we started this trek at about 6:30 a.m. in the semi-dark.

The beginning part of the trail does not go gentle on you and you climb pretty fast, pretty quick. There are some short breaks with flat terrain, but just remember you’re climbing an average of about 1k feet/mile and it’s going to be like that for a long, long time.

We made it to Bear Flats just in time to see the sun rising over the mountains by the time we were half way up the unrelenting switchbacks. Take your time on this section. You’ve got a lot of mountain to climb.

20161126_073422_hdr

After you finish the switchbacks, the next big landmark is a place called “Split Rock” which is a rock… that is split in two. It’s a good place for a quick break before you head up the next grueling passage.

600_449909831

This part is the hardest climb of the trail because your legs are tired and it’s super steep.

After 17.5 years of climbing, you’ll reach the traverse. Take heart because it’s kinda, almost, not really at all close to being over. You’ll have something like two more miles to go, but the elevation gain is more mellow.

600_449909962

For us, the traverse where it started getting windy and cold. Like SUPER windy and cold. What made it even better was the fact that I’m a head sweater and my hair was sopping wet (I mean, I can wring it out kind of wet) which felt way awesome with the cold wind blowing on it.

20161126_095342

After the traverse you’ll head up into the trees. The trees protected us a bit from the wind, but had the added bonus of snow. At this point to distract myself from the slog, I started making up new lyrics to the Fugee’s version of Killing Me Softly. It goes like this:

I got up at 4:30
Put on my boots to hike

I hopped into my Hyundai
And drove it for awhilllle.

And there it was, this mountain
About to claim my sooooul.

Cold, numbing pain in my fingers
Wind blasted face, legs that hurt.

Killing me slowly with this hike,
Killing me slowly…with this hike.

Taking my whole life… with each step.
Killing me slowly… With this hiiiiiiiiike

Babananana

The composition of this soon-to-be-chart-topper kept me busy enough to get to the top where winds were blowing about 45 miles per hour. My fingers were so cold that it took a while to take a picture, as my phone didn’t recognize them as belonging to a human anymore. It also came out blurry, so it was well worth the effort.

Someone else had a camera and decided to take, perhaps, the most unflattering photo of me in the history of my existence. Here I am, in the middle looking like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Woman under my three layers of clothing.

highres_456385569

I also had to borrow a face scarf from my friend Mike which I returned to him filled with snot and spit. Thanks, buddy!

At this point, there is a choice. You can either go back down the way you came which probably sucks just a little less than it did going up, or you can take the 3.5 mile down the Devil’s backbone down to the Notch and take the fire road or the ski lift down to Manker Flats.

Remember how I said to arrange a shuttle? That’s why. I hope you listened when I said that, because otherwise you’re going back down Bear Canyon to the ranger station.

I stayed up at the top for about 95 seconds and made my way down to the Notch Restaurant, just in time to see the storm rolling in.

20161126_122135

After eating the vegetarian lunch I brought because last time when I ordered a “Black Bean Burger” from the restaurant I got an actual meat burger with black beans on it (WHO WOULD WANT TO EAT THAT?), I paid the $12 to take the ski lift down, which was totally worth it, even if it was hailing on the way down and I kept getting pelted in the face with tiny, high speed ice balls.

And there you have it. This is arguably the hardest trail up to Baldy. I say “arguably” because there’s also Register Ridge and that one is also horrible.

This is actually a great training hike if you plan to do Cactus to Clouds, which makes this one look like a hike for toddlers. This won’t be the last time I do Bear Canyon, as I do need to train for the next and last time I ever to C2C (I made a promise to a friend), but I think it’ll be awhile before I climb it again.

Lake Gregory

Trailhead: 24171 Lake Dr, Crestline
Length:
 2.3 miles
Elevation Gain: Negligible
Total time: 1 hour
Dogs: Yes, on leash
Parking: If you park at the main lot at the entrance to the lake, you’ll pay $10. OR you can park over at San Moritz for freeeeeeee!

Lake Gregory is an easy hike that takes you around the scenic town of Crestline, CA. It is a popular spot that has a water slide, swimming, fishing and hiking. The trail also features physical fitness stations where you can do pull ups and sit ups and other feats to show how strong and awesome you are.

The lake was developed under the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1938. Urban legend claims that the construction equipment left at the site is still at the bottom of the lake.

If you want a easy hike and a quick vacation like experience, Lake Gregory is a great choice for a day trip. It is not particularly strenuous, making it a great option for families with small children.

Crestline is also my home town, so obviously awesome people come from there.