Chino Hills State Park: South Ridge-Telegraph Canyon Loop (Sunset Route)
Date Hiked: May 11, 2011 and March 28, 2009
Best Season: Autumn Spring Summer Winter
Check Trail Conditions: Chino Hills State Park (951) 780-6222
- Distance: 4.5 miles round-trip
- Elevation Gain: 600 feet
- Route Type: Loop
- Trail Type: Dirt (fire road and single track)
- Difficulty: Moderate
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In an effort to fit in more hikes, and just get in more exercise in general, Jeff and I decided to plan a mid-week after-work hike one week in May when we had really nice warm evening temperatures. We wanted to also time it so that we could catch a beautiful sunset — which meant that we had to be up on a hill, mountain or ridge that could provide an unobstructed view at just the right time. It had to also be a trail easy and clear enough to make our way back to the trailhead and our car in the dark, if necessary. And it had to be close enough for us to hike after getting home from work.
Nearby Chino Hills State Park provided the perfect match for our criteria — except that their “no dogs” policy meant we had to leave our hike-loving Beagle at home (we had to pack the backpack out in the garage, and put our hiking boots on in the car, so that Holly wouldn’t catch on…because she goes nuts when she spots the boots and pack).
My super smart weather and geography geek husband calculated that one of our previous Chino Hills State Park hikes would put us in the right spot at just the right time to catch the best views of the sunset, while still giving us ample mileage for a good evening workout. Jeff figured that hiking our previous South Ridge-Telegraph Canyon Loop in reverse would get us up to the higher stretches of trail just as the sun was starting to set. He was right on. The sunset views were spectacular.
This loop offers a great sampling of the wildlife, topography and flora of Chino Hills State Park. We once again accessed the park from the Rimcrest Drive entrance in a residential neighborhood in Yorba Linda (street parking is free, but restricted to one side of the street only). The first stretch along Easy Street Trail (hikers only) was packed with wildflowers and tall golden mustard. The second leg of the hike is along a segment of the wide busy Telegraph Canyon Trail (popular with mountain bikers), which had a surprising number of minor water and mud crossings this time of the year. From Telegraph, catch the single track Diemer Trail to start climbing up out of the canyons. Diemer dead-ends at the South Ridge Trail, which provides excellent views across the park and north Orange County, and returns you back to the Ridgecrest trailhead.
We both really loved this mid-week treat, and the spectacular lighting and solitude that come with hiking at sunset. An added bonus was all the wildlife we saw at this time of the evening — there were rabbits and quail all over the trails, and we were treated to a magnificent coyote serenade. But, Jeff and I both agree that we will probably plan future after-work sunset hikes at some of the nearby Orange County Parks, because of the “no dogs” policy for trails in California State Parks.
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