Chino Hill State Park: Scully Ridge - Santa Ana River Trail Loop
Date Hiked: January 30, 2010
Best Season: Spring Winter
Check Trail Conditions: Chino Hills State Park (951) 780-6222
- Distance: 4.3 miles round-trip
- Elevation Gain: 600 feet
- Route Type: Loop
- Trail Type: Dirt
- Difficulty: Moderate
One of the reasons we got Holly, the Christmas Beagle, was to force us to get out and walk and hike more often. We chose a beagle specifically because it was the smallest dog (we have space constraints that keep us from a larger dog) that was still “useful” and could keep up with us on our hikes. Our first hike with her was on January 30, 2010, just over a month after she joined our family, and it was a perfect starter hike for her, and a nice walk for us as well!
After looking around online, we chose Scully Ridge Trail, in the southeast corner of Chino Hills State Park, literally in our backyard (note–some trail guides and maps spell it “Skully”). We’d done several hikes in Chino Hills State Park previously, and had even bought a State Parks annual pass last year, so we had a map on hand and my DeLorme PN-40 GPS unit from my birthday, which I’d finally figured out how to download maps and geocaches into. So we figured we could break in the dog and our geocaching skills in the same trip. It was a short trip from our place to the trail head at Green River Golf Club, right off the 91 Freeway at Green River Road on the Orange/Riverside County line. Technically, you may or may not be allowed to park at the Golf Club, and if there doesn’t seem to be plenty enough parking there to not displace any golfers, you can park right outside the golf course where all the folks park to take the Santa Ana River Trail (same place you would park for the Coal Canyon Falls Hike) and walk on up through the golf course parking lot to the trailhead. Some folks online report being hassled for parking here, and others claim to have gotten explicit permission first. We chose the “don’t ask, don’t tell” strategy, and didn’t have a problem.
Also, technically, you’re not supposed to have dogs on pretty much any of the trails within any of the state parks, which really kinda pisses us off, and is why we haven’t renewed our annual pass or even visited a state park since. But we didn’t exactly know that this particular day, and there was no ranger station or major signage at the entrance to the park from here, and it was a far enough from the park hq that we actually didn’t see anyone else, much less a ranger looking to cite people with rogue dogs, so we hiked it anyways.
From the north end of the parking lot, you can see a paved trail that crosses some railroad tracks, and then you can see the dirt trail that heads up the hill to the left. It was only about 4.5 miles, and about 500 feet off elevation from the base to the top of the ridge, so it was a nice starter hike for the dog and really for us, since winter weather had kept us off the trails since November. At this time of year, the weather was very nice and cool, and the trail was covered in short green grass and soft dirt, which made it a very pleasant hike for all three of us. If there is a downside, it is that pretty much all of the climbing is in the first mile, which you can see in the elevation profile embedded at the bottom of this entry. The good part is, that means that once you’ve made the initial climb, it is pretty much exclusively a level or downhill hike along the ridge, with nice views down the 91 into Orange County and across Prado Basin into Riverside County.
The trail is very easy to follow. It is very well marked, and once you start up the trailhead outside the golf course, there isn’t another decision to make until you come back down the hill, cross a bridge over a creek and hit the junction with Aliso Canyon Trail (one of the main trails in the park), which is also well-marked and pretty much impossible to miss. From here you turn right, and continue until you leave the park and hit the junction with the Santa Ana River Trail. Again you turn right, and follow the trail through a nice horse pasture (being sure to open and close the gates behind you) and end up back at the golf course again.
In the spring, I’m sure this route is covered with wildflowers, on a clear day, you would have great views of the mountains and Orange County, and in the summer, it is probably ridiculously hot. But on this particular day, it was just nice and green and peaceful and some decent exercise and fresh air. Oh! And we found our first two geocaches! Both were very clever in design and/or concealment, and it definitely whetted my appetite to continue to find more in the future.
Speaking of whetting appetites, Holly loved her first hike, and we enjoyed taking her, and we were very pleased at how well she did and started looking forward to all the other hikes we’d like to do with her. Unfortunately, THOSE BASTARDS AT THE STATE PARKS DON’T ALLOW DOGS SO WE’LL NEVER GO TO ANOTHER STATE PARK EVER AND THEY CAN SUCK ON THEIR ANNUAL PASS AND ADMITTANCE FEES UNTIL THEY CHANGE THEIR MIND!!!!11!!
(Complain about unfair and stupid State Park dog policies here)