Powder Canyon Switchbacks Loop
- Location: La Habra Heights. From the 60 freeway, take the Fullerton Road exit and head south for 1.9 miles. Bare right to stay on Fullerton Road (it continues as Harbor Blvd.) and go 0.4 miles to the entrance to the park. Take a right and drive on a dirt road to the parking lot. You can also reach the park from the south via Harbor Blvd, taking a hard left on Fullerton Road.
- Agency: Habitat Authority
- Distance: 4.1 miles
- Elevation gain: 600 feet
- Suggested time: 2 hours
- Difficulty Rating: PG
- Best season: Year round
- USGS topo map: La Habra Heights
- Recommended gear: hiking poles; sun hat
- More information: Park map here
- Rating: 6
This trip is basically a longer–and more scenic–version of the Black Walnut Loop from the Powder Canyon trailhead. Highlights include views of the San Gabriels, the Puente Hills and more. It’s one of the more enjoyable and varied hikes in the area.
From the parking lot, head into Powder Canyon as you would for the Black Walnut and Schabarum Loops. You head up a slight incline and then descend into Powder Canyon, free of all of the noise from nearby streets. You pass by turnoffs for the Black Walnut and Purple Sage rails, and at 1.2 miles, turn right on the Switchbacks Trail (signed as Schabarum).
The Switchbacks Trail lives up to its name, making its way up the east side of the canyon. You go in and out of shade, making a nice, moderate ascent of about 400 feet in a mile. On the way up, you can take a moment and relax on a bench. As you climb, look for nice views of the San Gabriel Valley, with Baldy towering above.
The trail levels out near the top of the hill, and then begins its descent. You pass by a paved road that leads downhill to Trailview Park (another starting point for this hike). As the trail descends toward Fullerton Road, look for a path heading briefly uphill to the right. When you reach the fire road, head left and downhill, soon arriving at Fullerton Road. Head right and walk back along the road (there’s no sidewalk, but traffic is light and you only have to go 0.1 miles. Nevertheless, be cautious). This brings you back to the dirt road entrance to Powder Canyon. Follow it for 0.2 miles back to the parking lot.
Text and photography copyright 2012 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.