Difficulty PG Distance 5.1 to 10 miles Puente Hills, Chino Hills & North Orange County Rating: 7-8 Season: Fall/Early Winter Season: Late Winter/Spring

Skully Ridge/Lower Aliso Canyon Loop (Chino Hills State Park)


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Spring bloom in Chino Hills State Park
Spring bloom in Chino Hills State Park
Live oak, Skully Ridge, Chino Hills State Park
Live oak, Skully Ridge, Chino Hills State Park

Skully Ridge/Lower Aliso Canyon Loop (Chino Hills State Park)

  • Location: 4721 Sapphire Road, Chino Hills.  From the 71 expressway, take the Soquel Canyon Exit, head southwest (take a right if you’re coming from the north or left if from the south) for a mile and turn left on Elinvar.  G0 0.2 miles and turn left onto Sapphire.  Take a quick right onto the dirt road (Bane Canyon) leading into the park.  Drive 2.6 miles on a good dirt road and park at Lower Aliso Campground (or at an equestrian staging area 0.2 miles farther if it’s full).  Parking is $5 per vehicle.
  • Agency:  Chino Hills State Park
  • Distance: 6 miles
  • Elevation gain: 400 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: PG
  • Suggested time: 3 hours
  • Best season: November – May (Friday through Monday)
  • USGS topo map:  Prado Dam
  • Recommended gear: hiking poles; sun hat
  • Rating: 7

This loop is very enjoyable in the spring, when the flowers come out.   The trails in the eastern end of the park have a more isolated feel than those accessible by the Rim Crest and Carbon Canyon entrances, as the walls of the canyons block out most of the sights and sounds of civilization (except the 91 freeway).

From the campground, pick up the Lower Aliso Canyon Trail and head through a peaceful meadow, half a mile to a split.  Take a right on the Skully Ridge Trail (the left road is the continuation of Aliso Canyon Trail, your return route).   You pass by the turnoff for the Water Canyon trail, which is popular but often subject to closure due to adverse conditions.

Then you begin a steady climb to a ridge, where you get nice views of the western portion of the park, the Santa Anas in front of you and the eastern San Gabriel summits.  At 2.7 miles from the start, look for the Brush Canyon trail branching off to the left.  This trail, quite overgrown in some places, switchbacks down the hill to rejoin the Lower Aliso Canyon trail.  Take a left and head north for two miles to return to the junction.  A footbridge that crosses the canyon makes a particularly nice place for a snack break.

Text and photography copyright 2013 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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