Turnbull Canyon, Whittier, CA

Turnbull Canyon Loop

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  • Location: Puente Hills between Whittier and Hacienda Heights. From I-605, take the Beverly Blvd. exit and head east for a total of 4.7 miles (Beverly Blvd. becomes Turnbull Canyon Road). Park in a small dirt turnout on the right side of the road. From the 60 Freeway, take the Hacienda Blvd. exit and head south for 1.1 miles. Turn right on Tetley St. Go 0.7 mile and bear left onto Las Lomitas Drive. Follow Las Lomitas for a total of 2.2 miles (it becomes Turnbull Canyon Road) to the dirt turnout on the left side of the road. The approximate address is 3840 Turnbull Canyon Road in Hacienda Heights. Note posted restrictions when parking.
  • Agency: Habitat Authority
  • Distance: 3.6 miles
  • Elevation gain: 800 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: PG
  • Suggested time: 2 hours
  • Best season: October – June (Parking between 9am and 6pm only)
  • Dogs: Allowed on leash (exercise caution on warm days, watch out for ticks and be careful of broken glass)
  • Cell phone reception: Weak to none for most of the routes; good in some spots
  • Water: None
  • Restrooms: None
  • Camping/backpacking: None
  • Recommended gear: sun hat; hiking poles
  • More information: Trip descriptions (all from a different starting point, not accessible as of this writing) here, here and here; Yelp page here
  • Rating: 5

Updated December 2018

Like the neighboring Worsham Canyon Loop hike – and many others in the Puente Hills – this trip offers a good workout potentially wide-ranging views and pleasantly shaded canyons. On clear winter and spring days, the views may include Catalina Island, the Hollywood sign, San Gorgonio, San Jacinto and Old Saddleback.

From the turnout, carefully cross Turnbull Canyon Road and follow an unsigned but obvious trail downhill into the canyon. The narrow single-track drops into a pleasant grove of oaks, reaching a junction at 0.4 mile. This is the start of the loop, which can be hiked in either direction. By going counter-clockwise, as described here, more of the ascent is under shade.

Turn right and follow the trail uphill. Stay left at a Y-junction (the other route is a service spur) and briefly drop back into the woods before making an ascent to Skyline Drive, 1.1 miles from the start. (Resist the temptation to cut switchbacks as, unfortunately, many hikers and mountain bikers have done.)

At Skyline Drive, a fire road, turn left and head northwest along a fence. Soon you get views of Mt. Baldy and the rest of the San Gabriels, although they are obstructed by antennas. In 0.3 mile, turn left at the junction onto Rose Hills Fire Road #1. Almost immediately, a use trail leads to the highest point on this loop, a water tower. Despite the graffiti and the fence around the tower, the views from here are impressive; even if there are clouds or smog, you get an interesting aerial perspective on Turnbull Canyon and you will see both the trail you climbed up earlier and your return route, hundreds of feet below.

Continue by descending steeply down the fire road leading from the water tower to the main route. Soon after you reach the Sumac Trail on the left. The Sumac Trail, a dirt road that is paved in a few spots, drops steeply down into the canyon, losing over 300 feet in 0.7 mile.

At the bottom of the Sumac Trail, turn left and follow the Turnbull Canyon Trail uphill through the canyon bottom. Oaks and sycamores provide shade as you climb half a mile to the first junction, completing the loop. From here, simply retrace your steps back to the road, climbing just over 200 feet in 0.4 mile.

Turnbull Canyon Trail, California
Start of the hike, Turnbull Canyon Road
Turnbull Canyon, Rose Hills, CA
Mt. Baldy and the San Gabriels from the water tower
Turnbull Canyon, Whittier, CA
Southwest view from the water tower
Turnbull Canyon, Whittier, CA
Fall colors in Turnbull Canyon

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.


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