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.
Powder Canyon/Black Walnut Loop in Puente Hills
- 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: 1.9 miles
- Elevation gain: 350 feet
- Suggested time: 1 hour
- Difficulty Rating: PG
- Best season: All year
- USGS topo map: La Habra Heights
- More information: Park map here
- Rating: 4
Powder Canyon, which connects to the larger Schirbarum Regional Park, is one of the more isolated parts of the Puente Hills. Located on the southern side of the hills, the canyon is largely shielded from the freeway noise, although you do get some nice views of the Inland Empire as you climb. This short loop can either be a nice quick getaway into nature, or the beginning of a longer hike on one of the trails that connects to it. Since it uses entirely fire roads, it can be a good evening or night hike as well (although if you arrive after sunset, make sure to park on the street instead of in the lot.)
From the parking area, take the Powder Canyon fire road north and head into a grove of oaks. Stay straight as the Grey Squirrel trail branches off, and soon you arrive at the signed Black Walnut trail. Head right and begin your ascent. Other than some overhead power lines and the occasional plane passing by, there are few signs of civilization. After some climbing, you get some nice views, including Baldy, Cucamonga and on clear days, San Gorgonio and San Bernardino Peaks.
After almost a mile, the Black Walnut trail ends at a T-junction. Head right, and descend steeply, arriving at Fullerton Road. Head right and walk carefully back to the turnoff for the park (there are no sidewalks, but traffic is light, so as long as you’re alert you shouldn’t have any problems.) If you have time and energy, make sure to check out some of the longer Powder Canyon trails.