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Chino Hills State Park

Hills-for-Everyone Trail

Along Ranch Road to McDermont Spring is 4 miles round trip
with 400-foot gain; to Carbon Canyon Regional Park
is 7.5 miles one way with 800-foot loss

Chino Hills State Park, located in Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside counties, preserves some much needed “breathing room” in this fast-growing area. Nearly three million people live within sight of the Chino Hills and more than 15 million people live within a 40 mile radius of the park!

The park is the state’s most expensive ever, with an excess of $50 million spent by the time it opened for full time use in 1986. Some, but not too much development is in store for Chino Hills; mostly the park will continue to be the province of horseback riders, mountain bikers and hikers.

The 12,500-acre park is located near the northern end of what geologists call the Peninsular Ranges Geomorphic Province. The Chino Hills are part of the group of hills that include the Puente Hills to the northwest. These hills form a roughly triangular area of approximately 35 square miles of valleys, canyons, hills and steep slopes.

Extensive grasslands blanket the slopes. The hills are covered with wild oats, rye, black mustard and wild radish. On south-facing slopes is the soft-leaved shrub community, dominated by several varieties of sage.

High temperatures, often combined with heavy smog, suggest that a summer visit can be something of an ordeal. The park is much more pleasurable in the cooler months, and especially delightful in spring.

Hills-for-Everyone Trail was named for the conservation group that was instrumental in establishing Chino Hills State Park. The trail follows a creek to the head of Telegraph Canyon. The creek is lined with oak, sycamore and the somewhat rare California walnut.

Directions to trailhead: Chino Hills State Park can be a bit tricky to find. The park is located west of Highway 71 between the Riverside Freeway (91) and the Pomona Freeway (60). From the Riverside Freeway (91) in Corona, go north on Highway 71 for 8 miles and exit on Soquel Canyon Parkway. Make a left, proceed to Elvinar Road, turn left and proceed through a residential area. Just after Elvinar turns east and becomes Sapphire Road, you’ll see the signed Chino Hills State Park dirt entrance road on your right. (This park entry road is closed for a period of 48 hours after a rainstorm.) Enter the park on this dirt road (which returns to pavement in 1.5 miles) and proceed to the park entry kiosk (information, fee collection). Once past the kiosk, continue to Rolling M Ranch Barn and the parking area for the Hills-for-Everyone and Telegraph Canyon Trails.

The hike:
Hills-for-Everyone Trail descends to a small creek and follows the creek up canyon. Shading the trail—and shielding the hiker from a view of the many electrical transmission lines that cross the park—are oaks, sycamores and walnuts. Of particular interest is the walnut; often the 15- to 30-foot tall tree has several dark brown trunks, which gives it a brushy appearance.

The trail, which can be quite slippery and muddy after a rain, passes a small (seasonal) waterfall. The slopes above the creekbed are carpeted with lush grasses and miners lettuce.

Along the trail is found evidence of the park’s ranching heritage, including lengths of barbed wire fence and old cattle troughs. For more than a century this land was used exclusively for cattle ranching.

Near its end, the trail ascends out of the creekbed to the head of Telegraph Canyon and intersects a dirt road. McDermont Spring is just down the road. Some of the livestock ponds, constructed during the area’s ranching days, still exist, and hold water year-round. McDermont Spring— along with Windmill and Panorama ponds—provides water for wildlife.

To Carbon Canyon Regional Park: Telegraph Canyon Trail (a dirt road closed to public vehicular traffic) stays close to the canyon bottom and its creek. It’s a gentle descent under the shade of oak and walnut trees. The walnuts are particularly numerous along the first mile of travel and the hiker not inclined to hike the length of Telegraph Canyon might consider exploring this stretch before returning to the trailhead.

The route passes an old windmill. Farther down the canyon, the walnuts thin out. A lemon grove, owned by the state park but leased to a farmer, is at a point where the dirt road intersects Carbon Canyon Road. Walk along the broad shoulder of the latter road 0.5 mile to Carbon Canyon Regional Park.

© 2012 The Trailmaster, Inc.
From John McKinney’s
Day Hiker’s Guide to California’s State Parks
Trail descriptions and maps have been reproduced with the permission of the author.  To learn more about The Trailmaster and other related publications please visit their website at www.thetrailmaster.com.