- Location: East of Yucaipa in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains. From I-10 in Yucaipa, take the Live Oak/Oak Glen exit and go east on Oak Glen road for 11.3 miles. The preserve is on the right side of the road, at 39611 Oak Glen Road. From Palm Springs and the east, take I-10 to Beaumont Ave (CA route 79), head north (right). Beaumont Avenue becomes Oak Glen Road and the preserve is on the left, 9.5 miles from the freeway.
- Agency: Wildlands Conservancy
- Distance: 3.4 miles (longer or shorter routes available)
- Elevation gain: 1,100 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG
- Suggested time: 2 hours
- Best season: Year round depending on conditions (hot during the summer, possible snow and ice during the winter)
- Recommended gear: Hiking poles
- Dogs: Allowed on leash
- Cell phone reception: Good for most of the route; weak in some spots
- Water: Available at fountains at several restrooms throughout the park
- Restrooms: Located near the trail head and elsewhere in the park
- Camping/backpacking: None
- More information: Trip descriptions here and here; Map My Hike report here
- Rating: 7
No matter how much you love Los Angeles, there may be times when you want to get away. Few places in the L.A. vicinity feel farther away than Oak Glen, a mountain village known for spring wildflowers and fall apple picking (and pies). On fall weekends, visitors can enjoy live music, freshly baked pies, hand crafts and more. There’s also a small but scenic network of trails overseen by the Wildlands Conservancy, many of which offer a peaceful stroll through the mountains and one of which – the Preservation Point trail – offers a rigorous workout.
Begin by heading south from the parking area and picking up a signed trail that walks past some orchards, paralleling a service road. You soon enter an attractive spot known as Oak Knoll Park where the trail passes by a picnic area before dropping toward the wetlands. Just over half a mile from the start, you pass another picnic area in a pleasant grove of white fir and Douglas fir trees. Here you’ll find the signed Preservation Point trail (also known as Chaparral Vistas). If you have small kids or if it’s an exceptionally warm day, you might want to skip this trail, but for hikers up for a challenge it’s definitely worth the effort.
The trail briefly follows the canyon bottom before making a right turn and beginning its steep ascent. The steep and often loose but easy to follow trail climbs up a ridge and then makes a few switchbacks before finally leveling out, having climbed 750 feet in 0.8 mile. The trail ends at a metal gate at Pisgah Peak Road. This may seem a little anti-climatic after the effort of the ascent, but you are still rewarded with a panoramic view of the area.
After carefully descending, continue north through the picnic area. You soon reach the Chaparral Loop, an optional detour. The Stream Trail continues north and uphill, soon reaching another split. The boardwalk – one of the preserve’s most recognizable features – branches off here. Unusual for boardwalks, it has a slight incline, following the course of the creek.
At the top of the boardwalk, you can make a short circle around Red Wing Pond that also provides view of seasonal Duck Pond. On the way back to the trail head, you can take optional detours on the Conifers of California Trail, the Artist’s Palette Trail (which features spring wildflowers) and the Pioneer Trail, which has some vintage farm equipment and interpretive displays about the area’s history.
Text and photography copyright 2018 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.