Bonelli Regional Park
- Location: San Dimas. From the 57 Freeway, take the Via Verde exit and turn left (regardless if if you are coming from the north or south). Follow Via Verde into the park. Parking is $10 per vehicle (free on non-holiday weekdays from November to February). Bear right past the entry booth and park in the first available area, on the left.
- Agency: L.A. County Parks & Recreation
- Distance: 3.5 miles
- Elevation gain: 500 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG
- Suggested time: 2 hours
- Best season: October – May
- USGS topo map: “San Dimas”
- Recommended gear: sun hat
- More information: Bonelli park homepage here; Everytrail report here
- Rating: 6
Large (1,975-acre) Frank Bonelli Regional Park, on the eastern edge of L.A. County, is like a Griffith Park for the San Gabriel Valley. While it doesn’t quite have the variety that Griffith does, on clear days, the views can be great. The centerpiece of the park, Puddingstone Reservoir, may be man-made, but the views of it from above and up close are impressive, especially with Baldy and its neighbors so close by.
There are many trails in the park, so it’s possible to do hikes of all distances and difficulty levels. Given time and energy, one can circumnavigate the entire reservoir (about 6 miles), but route-finding can be a little tricky, especially near the Raging Waters park on the lake’s north side. The route described here, a moderate 3.5 mile loop, stays on the south side of the reservoir, sampling some of the area’s scenery.
From the parking lot, cross Via Verde and turn left at an intersection of two fire roads. You’ll head uphill, reaching a junction at 0.5 miles. The left fork continues straight ahead, but for this route, try turning right, heading along a hill side with nice views to the south, including the Puente Hills and Santa Anas.
At 0.8 miles, bear left and head uphill on a trail signed in the park as the Reservoir Trail but on the park map as the Middlecrest Trail. You can take an optional spur to a helicopter landing site at the top of a hill, with good views of Baldy.
Continuing northeast on the main trail, you soon arrive at a junction with the trail from earlier. Soon afterward, you reach a T-intersection where you’ll head right. You get your first view of the reservoir, off to the left. At two miles, look for a fallen yellow sign leading to the Park View trail, a single-track. Take a hard left and head down toward Via Verde.
At an equipment maintenance area, turn right and cross Via Verde. Head right on a paved road and almost immediately, look for a bridle path heading left. Follow it to another T-junction at a knoll with a nice view of the lake. Turn right and head uphill briefly, then down, arriving at a parking area (2.8 miles). There are several picnic tables where you can sit by the reservoir and take a breather.
From here, head left through the parking area and follow the paved road around the south side of the lake. The views of the mountains here are particularly good; you can walk farther out onto one of the docks if you like.
At 3.3 miles, you reach a small inlet on the southwest corner of the reservoir. You cross over the wetlands on a bridge and reach an intersection. Turn left and follow the paved road back to the parking area.
Text and photography copyright 2013 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other
outdoor activities. By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.