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.
Wildwood Canyon State Park in Yucaipa
- 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.
- Agency: California State Parks
- Distance: 4 miles
- Elevation gain: 500 feet
- Suggested time: 2 hours
- Difficulty rating: PG
- Best season: All year, but hot during the summer (daylight hours only)
- USGS topo map: “Forest Falls”
- Recommended gear: sunblock; sun hat
- Recommended guidebook: Afoot and Afield: Inland Empire
- More information: here
- Rating: 6
If you aren’t fazed when things don’t go exactly as planned, you’ll probably have a great old time in Wildwood Canyon State Park, a where none of the trails have the same names on the maps that are available, which is kind of a moot point, because none of the trails are signed. The park’s designation as a State Park is still pending, and is is currently managed by a nonprofit organization.
That being said, the place is actually pretty easy to find your way around. There are a network of trails that run southwest/northeast, climbing a gentle slope in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains. The various maps of the park make it look a little like the palm of someone’s hand, and the “fingers” are the ridges that rise up from the canyons. There are countless possible routes that you can take. The route described here takes you to the back of the park and back. It’s easy to get off the trail, but it’s also easy to find your way back down to the bottom of the hill.
From the gate, head right on a single-track trail (a dirt road, your return route, heads straight). You climb up an S-curve and arrive at a wide meadow, where you will get nice views of Old Saddleback and the surrounding area. Soon, you come to an intersection where a trail turns sharply to the right and heads back down into the canyon. Your route stays left, following the ridge. It intersects a dirt road (to the right, look for the Hi-Up farm house). Continue, passing by a few obscure trails that branch off as your route (the most obvious one) continues its climb.
The trail dips in and out of the canyon, merging with a few other trails from the south, before finally reaching a four-way split. Straight ahead is a steep fire break; to the right, a trail dips down into the woods. Your route is to the left, which heads around the northern rim of the park before heading back south. Take a right at the next junction and follow the path down to the dirt road near the farm buildings, where you will head left. This road will take you the last mile or so to the trailhead, but if you want a little more of a challenge, look for an obscure trail branching off to the right shortly after you connect with the dirt road. This trail parallels the road, going up and over a few bumps, with some bush-whacking involved.