Thursday, February 10, 2011

Hike 2011.008 -- Chino Hills State Park

Hiked Thursday, February 10.

Rim Crest Trailhead is at the top of Rimcrest Drive, in far northern Yorba Linda. From the 57 freeway, I took the Imperial Highway exit and headed east. After 3.3 miles, I took a left at Bastanchury Rd. 2.7 miles later, I made a left on Fairmont Blvd. .8 miles later, I made a left on Rimcrest Drive, and took that to where the Rimcrest turns into Blue Gum. A half-dozen cars were parked on the right side of the road, just before the turn. A sign indicated parking was permitted, except from 7pm - 8am. That's no problem in the winter, but in the summer, avoiding a ticket would require you to make sure to clear out well before dark. Parking on the left side of the road (as viewed looking up the hill) is by permit, only. The side streets also appeared to be parking by permit, only.

At the turn in the road, a curb cut allows easy walking or biking access, as well as emergency vehicle access to Chino Hills State Park. Just up the trail, there's a gate and two bulletin boards with various notices posted. There's also a small container with a small number of Chino Hills State Park flyers.

A mileage sign at the bulletin board indicates that the South Ridge Trail runs perpendic-ular to your entry into the park. Turn right to head towards San Juan Hill (2.8 miles) and the park HQ (5.5 miles). Turn left to head towards lower Telegraph Canyon (1.3 miles). Also, a small, hikers-only trail is straight ahead. Three-tenths of a mile would take you to Telegraph Canyon. That's the way I returned, at the end of the day.

In the morning, I turned right. This trail gains altitude rather quickly, although this entire park is mostly rolling hills. For example, the entry station is just under 1,000 feet above sea level. The high point in the park, San Juan Hill, tops out at 1785 feet, meaning the net gain is just 280 feet per mile. All but the last 1/10 mile or so is on a dirt road or double track. Most intersections are signed with a wooden stake giving the name of the intersecting trail. Along the trail, there were also stakes at one mile intervals, giving the name of the trail and the number of miles from there to the park headquarters. However, a number of the stakes were burned in fires about 18 months ago, obliterating the trail names and making the mileages difficult to read.

Incidentally, the map that's available at the park and on-line also has most of the trail names indicated, and places the number of miles from the hq on the map. That gives you a fair indication of your distance covered, at least if you're heading east-west. For north-south travel, you've sort of on your own.

Chino Hills looks somewhat like the Puente Hills. I expect the climate here must be a little more under a marine influence than Puente Hills. The hills also seem more rounded, with fewer oaks. However, most of where I hiked in the Puente Hills is on north-facing slopes, while the Chino Hills canyons seem more east-west. A small trickle ran along the bottom of Telegraph Canyon, and water seeped on a few other areas. However, despite being more moderate in climate, it seemed dryer than Puente Hills. The recent fires may have helped reduce the larger shrubs and trees and dried out the area, however.

High-tensions wires and pressurized natural gas pipes cut across the park. Nonetheless, the there are some pleasant views along the way. This February day, dried annual grasses stood tall, while green grasses grew lower to the ground. Wildflowers were still pretty sparse, although I did see a number of lupine out near Gilman Peak. There were also some nice views of Mt. San Antonio (Baldy) and his friends, to the north. Mt. Wilson and friends were further to the west. To the southwest was the Pacific Ocean, with Santa Catalina Island showing nicely today. I also got a relatively close-up view of the Santa Ana Mountains, to the east, Mt. San Jacinto, to the east-northeast, and Mt. San Bernardino and San Gorgonio, to the northeast.

There was a large cement monument on the top of San Juan Hill, with the year 1896. That's two years before the famed Battle of San Juan Hill, so the naming of this place was not an homage to the heroics of Teddy Roosevelt.

After crossing over San Juan Hill, I continued on the South Ridge Trail a bit further, giving away altitude as I descended towards Telegraph Canyon. I made a sharp left turn at mile marker 2 and briefly joined the Telegraph Canyon Trail, which I followed to Four Corners (about 1,300 feet). I guess it gets that name because of all the trails that converge there. In addition to the convergence, there's a couple of benches, a portapotty, and (on this day) a fire engine.

Just a bit further west, I reached the signed turnoff for the North Ridge Trail. I walked up the ridge, passed the McDermont junction, and continued another 2 1/4 mile to Gilman Peak (1685).

Along the way, I passed a fenced area with a sign warning of explosives and hazardous materials to the north.

After passing over Gilman Peak, I continued down Gilman Trail, which ends at Telegraph Canyon. I headed west about 1/2 mile, with rolling hills and a tiny stream running along the bottom, to the west. On the left, I saw a small clearing with a "No Bicycles" sign, but no name. Nonetheless, I was confident (and correct) that this was the Easy Street Trail that would take me back to Rimcrest. Three-tenths of a mile later, I was back at the trailhead. My car was still there, unticketed. Yay. :D

This was about six hours after I started my walk. During this time, I would estimate I covered about eight miles, perhaps a bit more. That's a pretty slow pace for me. Yes, I'm still feeling the after-effects of my illness. Even at low altitude and with relatively modest altitude gains, and with many stops for pictures, this was dog-slow for me, but about all I was up for today.


  1. Looks like a real nice area. Lots of green down there!

  2. I hike Chino Hills almost every weekend - Some nice hiking. You hit both peaks in one day - I'd say your 8 mile estimate is low :)

  3. Cool. :D

    I do know I was feeling pretty tired by the end, and cut through the "East Street" trail in part because I didn't want to do the extra mile or what ever to go around the other way!