Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Hiking Weir Canyon

Every hiker knows that not all trail miles are created equal. Some trail miles take you over relatively flat terrain. Others take you up huge mountains with crazy elevation gain. Most of the trails trodded are somewhere in the middle, some ups some downs and you just hope the views are worth the ups.

Weir Canyon is a relatively unknown canyon in the OC and if you decide to do this hike, be prepared for some hard miles on the trail.

Why is this hike (which clocks in around 8 miles of loop hiking) hard? Well you can thank the rollercoaster enthusiasts who apparently built the trails since you will be having a LOT of elevation gain and loss as you make your way.

First up is getting to the Canyon. At the suggestion of the Greenes, I parked at the Anaheim Hills Elementary School

and immediately huffed it up the first of many hills to the first of two ridge lines. If you go right, you are in the Santiago Oaks park, if you bear left (which is a common theme for this trail) then that trail starts leading you toward Weir Canyon.

You also have the option to hike up to Robber's Roost which is one of the high points in the park.

I declined to hike up there, due in part to the many signs indicating it was trespassing on private property if you did so.

I saw many, many people ignore the sign so I am not sure what the deal is but I skipped the Roost and started to make my way to Weir.

Since Weir is a bit of a "hidden" canyon, you have to follow signs for the Anaheim Hills trail as much as possible before seeing the Weird Canyon signs. Once you see these, you will know you are going the right way.

Once you are going the right way, you will get on the rollercoaster, nothing like a bunch of up and downs when the sun is beating down on you to question your liking of this thing called "hiking". Also, you have the wisdom in your back pocket to note you will have to do this all over again to actually get back to your car, fun!

This is not to say this hike doesn't have its rewards. Once you get to the T, you head left (basically, when in doubt, head left except for one crucial turn) and the whole hills and canyons open up to you.

You then dip down the Anaheim Hills trail and you eventually come to another T. Unlike all the other trail choices you have on this trek, chose right(ly) and you will know you are going the correct way when you see a gate you cannot pass and the faint outline of a trail with barb wire to the right (friendly right?).

Once you hit this trail you are set. The rest of the way is a loop trail, which seems to go forever but doesn't in fact (only in my hyperbolic mind). You can hike the trail any way you like, although if you want to hike it the hard way (which I always seem to stumble into by default, sadly) then hike the right/East trail first.

One of the great things about hiking in the OC (other than being able to say "the OC") is that it has so many interesting geological features you can see on the trail. The vistas and rocks are particularly striking and well worth the struggle to get to this point.

I have one "pro" tip (said by a man who got lost twice on this hike, twice!). If you don't feel like hiking the whole loop because hiking the rollercoaster section in the hot, hot sun has beat you down, then head up this trail

which cuts off about 1-2 miles of the trail as it pops out right on the Weir trail. I have to admit (I would never lie to you dear readers) that I cursed up a storm when I figured out this trail was a cut through. As much as I want to make my miles, I also was begging for a cut through at this point so put that in your mental pipe and smoke it! :)

I was also cursing the fact that on the second half of the loop you can take either the Weir Canyon Trail or the "Old" Weir Canyon Trail, each of which leads you to the exact same spot, which kinda blew my mind for some reason (why have 2 trails going the exact same way?, did someone love the "old" trail so much they had to have it despite the "new" trail?, if you are going to name something "old" do it proper by naming it "olde").

The rollercoaster to end the trip wasn't as bad as I previously advertised but you WILL be feeling on the last hill. The Greenes estimate the elevation gain to be greater than 1,000 feet which if you average it out over 8 miles isn't so bad but its the way they make you gain/lose elevation that starts playing with your mind.

The real question at the end of the day is, is this hike worth your time? Well, yes. One, it is a good conditioning hike (if you are into that sort of thing). Two, this is really a lightly trod trail in SoCal, so you can appreciate seeing things and hiking trails that few others do. Three, there are beautiful sights to be had, you just have to work for em. So, while my legs aren't too happy with me today, I will fondly remember this trail even though I have no intention of hiking it again any time soon.

An excellent write-up by the Greenes: http://www.greeneadventures.com/2011/04/02/robbers-roost-to-weir-canyon-wilderness-park-the-secret-park/


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