Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Hiking Chino Hills

Chino Hills, a park threatened with closure in the last round of California budget malarkey is still alive and well in the hills of the OC.

I took the North Ridge trail and was sure glad I did, what a nice track!

I was warned that the North Ridge trail was "very strenuous" but at the end of the day, while you do gain over 800 feet of elevation, it is a gentle elevation gain and shouldn't put you too much out (out of what?). Another HUGE benefit of hiking this trail is that most people don't so you get some blessed solitude. It was just me and the rabbits for most of the trail.

I don't often talk about my thoughts of the trail itself, just the scenery the trail allows you to see. However, I have to take a moment to wax poetic about how the North Ridge trail was constructed. The trail does not follow on top of the ridgeline but instead drops slightly below the ridgeline and first follows the northern part of the ridge and then crosses over and follows the South side of the ridge. What this does is give you sights of the mountains to the North

and then sights of the Chino Hills to the South.

This mixing and matching pleasantly varies the terrain and your hiking experience so my hats off to the trail makers, they really knew what they were doing!

As you make your way along the ridge, Gilman Peak comes into view.

Yeah, yeah, its not the most exciting peak but it is the highest point in the park and gives you some nice views of the surrounding area.

Unfortunately, it was really hazy in SoCal the day I hiked the peak

but it was a nice amble nonetheless.

I am a fan of loops since it varies the terrain so I decided to trek another mile and a half East to hook up with the Sycamore Trail

which then runs South to hook up with the Telegraph Trail. The Sycamore Trail is aptly named

and lose elevation really quickly heading to Telegraph. If you do this hike in reverse (i.e., heading out Telegraph and then going North to the North Ridge) then going UP Sycamore it is a real beast. HIGHLY suggest going down this puppy.

Eventually you make your way onto Telegraph which is depressingly flat and depressingly fully of people (at least compared to North Ridge). LOTS of bicyclers as well and while the trail is wide enough to accommodate everyone

just make sure you are aware of your surroundings.

I did my good deed for the day by encouraging this little guy to cross the road before a bicyclist came along.

He wasn't too fond of me because I was harshing his sun buzz but he scurried off to the brush unharmed.

While Telegraph is not my favorite trail, there is some visual eye candy to be had as you wander back to the discovery center.

You definitely feel hemmed in between and betwixt the hills as Telegraph runs along the only flat spot in the whole state park. Eventually the flat trail leads you back to the visitor center. There are side trails leading to other trailheads and if there is a North Ridge trail, yes Virginia, there is a South Ridge trail but I did not get a chance to check that one out.

The North Ridge trail is really worth the price of admission and if you are in the OC, forget the beach, head to the hills!

These maps will help you figure out where to go in the park: http://www.chinohillsstatepark.org/about-chino-hills-sp/maps


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