- Location: East of Yucaipa. From I-10, take the Live Oak Canyon/Oak Glen Road exit. Turn left, go across the freeway and take a right onto Calimesa Blvd. Go 1.2 miles and head left onto Wildwood Canyon Road. Go 4.3 miles and turn left onto Canyon Drive, into the park. Alternately, you can take the Beaumont Ave. exit on I-10 at Beaumont and head north. Beaumont becomes Oak Glen, and after a total of 5.9 miles from the freeway, head left onto Wildwood Canyon and go 2.3 miles to Canyon Drive. The staging area is a large dirt lot on the right, just past the park entrance.
- Agency: California State Parks
- Distance: 4.3 miles (longer or shorter routes possible)
- Elevation gain: 800 feet
- Suggested time: 2 hours
- Difficulty rating: PG
- Best season: All year, but hot during the summer (daylight hours only)
- Dogs: Allowed on leash
- Cell phone reception: Good at the trail head and on the lower portion of the loop; weak to none for most of the route
- Water: None
- Restrooms: Chemical toilets at the trailhead and at the picnic area on the McCullough Loop
- Camping/backpacking: None (nearest camping is at Yucaipa Regional Park and Bogart County Park)
- Recommended gear: sunblock; sun hat
- More information: Trip description (shorter route) here; Yelp page here
- Rating: 6
Updated November 2018
Yucaipa’s 850-acre Wildwood Canyon State Park, once fated to become a residential development, offers some of the more intriguing and enjoyable hiking of the eastern Inland Empire. A network of official and unofficial trails negotiate the canyons and ridges of the park, which straddles the boundary between the suburbs and the mountains. This post describes a 4-plus mile loop around the perimeter of the park, providing a significant workout and a good sampling of the area’s scenery. While the park signage has improved over the last few years, many of the trails are unmarked and unofficial, so navigation can be a little confusing. Nevertheless, the route doesn’t have to be followed exactly to be enjoyable. The park is close to civilization (although it feels pleasantly isolated) and most of the trails follow a consistent southwest/northeast orientation, so it’s hard to get too lost.
From the staging area, pass through the picnic grounds and pick up the single-track Oak Tree Loop. Bear left at a Y-fork and begin climbing through a grove of live oaks, up to a plateau. Half a mile from the start, stay straight and follow the McCullough Loop uphill. The McCullough Loop is named for former ranch owner Charles McCullough, who purchased the property after his Pasadena apple farm went bankrupt in 1932.
In 0.3 mile you reach a picnic area with chemical toilets and a table nestled beneath a large oak. A few unofficial trails branch off at this point; the McCullough Loop continues its climb, reaching a T-junction in another 0.2 mile. Bear left and head downhill toward the Hi-Up House, former residence of the McCullough family. In a short distance, make a hard right on the Stetson Trail.
The Stetson Trail heads northeast, ascending a ridge and passing by a few unofficial trails before reaching a junction with the Central Ridge Trail (1.7 miles from the start). Bear right and continue climbing northeast, through some vegetation. The trail makes a U-turn and begins heading southwest. At 2.1 miles, you reach a fire break, the highest point on this route (although you can climb higher up the fire break if you want.) From here, you get a panoramic view down the canyon which extends to the Santa Ana Mountains.
The trail descends for 0.7 mile, where it merges with the Stable Ridge Trail. Bear right and turn right again in another 0.2 mile, following a spur that leads to Hunt Ranch, an abandoned collection of former residences. From here, pick up Canyon Drive, a dirt road, and follow it south, back downhill toward the parking area. The unsigned but obvious Water Canyon Trail, a single-track, branches off to the right shortly past the ranch. This route parallels the road but makes a more interesting alternative for the last stretch of the hike. The trail climbs to a vista point with a makeshift wooden bench before dropping back down to rejoin the road. From here, simply follow the road 0.4 mile back to the parking area.
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.