Text and photography copyright 2010 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. The author does not take any responsibility for injuries sustained during hikes or walks on the routes described here. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.
Gilman Peak from Carbon Canyon
- Location: East of Brea, in north Orange County. From highway 57 in Brea, take the Lambert Road exit and head east (left if you are coming from the north, right if from the south) for 2.8 miles. On the way, Lambert becomes Carbon Canyon Road (highway 142). Carbon Canyon Park is on the right. Parking is $3 per vehicle on weekdays; $5 on weekends and $7 on holidays. If you are coming from the east on highway 142, the park will be on the left, 7.6 miles from Chino Hills.
- Agency: Chino Hills State Park
- Distance: 7 miles
- Elevation gain: 1,300 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (Distance)
- Suggested time: 3.5 hours
- Best season: October – June
- USGS topo map: “Yorba Linda”
- Recommended gear: sun hat; sunblock
- More information: here
- Rating: 7
There are several ways to reach the summit of 1,685-foot Gilman Peak, second highest point in Chino Hills State Park. The popular route described here starts at Brea’s Carbon Canyon Regional Park (which itself has a 2-mile nature trail) and uses the North Ridge Trail to reach the summit. While Gilman’s height may not seem impressive, its prominence makes for great viewing from the top, especially on clear days. The route to Gilman from Carbon Canyon Park is on an easy-to-follow fire road, and it is never too steep, although even veteran hikers will probably feel their endurance being tested.
From the entrance booth at Carbon Canyon Park, take a left and drive as far as you can. At the last lot, you will see a sign directing you to Chino Hills State Park’s Telegraph Canyon. The beginning of the hike, which walks up along the side of Carbon Canyon Road and past a construction site, may not seem very inspiring, but before long you are in Chino Hills State Park on Telegraph Canyon. Take a left on the North Ridge Trail and start climbing.
You’ll hear noise from the road for the first mile or so, but then the trail moves to the south side of the ridge, and it gets quieter. The scenery, which can include almost all of Orange County and Catalina island, improves too.
The trail continues to weave around the top of the ridge (there’s virtually no shade, so plan accordingly). There are a couple of dips and then a few switchbacks to just below the summit. As the trail reaches a saddle and stars to descend, take a hairpin turn to the right (note the sign for Gilman Peak) and head to the summit.
The views can be surprisingly good, including the Santa Ana Mountains, the San Gabriels, and sometimes the San Bernardino and San Jacinto ranges. If you are lucky you can also see downtown L.A. If you can, start this hike in the late afternoon, and enjoy some great sunset views as you head back to your car. You also have the option of taking another trail down from Gilman Peak (hikers only) to Telegraph Canyon, which you can take westward back to the junction.