- Location: Box Springs Mountain Reserve, Riverside. From Riverside, take the 215/60 freeway to 3rd St/Blaine St (exit 33). Turn left and head east on Blaine St. for 1.8 miles. Turn left on Belvedere, go 0.2 mile and turn right onto Two Trees Road. Park in the dirt lot. From Moreno Valley and points east, take the 215/60 freeway to the Watkins exit (30B). Bear right and head north on Watkins for 1.4 miles. Turn right on Speith Way and make a quick left onto Mt. Vernon Ave. Go 0.4 mile and turn right onto Blaine St. Go 0.1 mile and turn left onto Belvedere, and in 0.2 mile turn right onto Two Trees Road. Park in the dirt lot. If you want to use public transportation, Riverside Transit bus route 10 has a stop on the corner of Mt. Vernon and Blaine, about 0.4 mile from the trail head.
- Agency: Riverside County Regional Park & Open Space District
- Distance: 7.4 miles
- Elevation gain: 1,700 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (Elevation gain, distance)
- Suggested time: 4 hours
- Best season: October – June (dawn until dusk)
- Recommended gear: hiking poles; sun hat; sunscreen; insect repellent
- Dogs: Allowed on leash (exercise caution on warm days)
- Cell phone reception: Good for most of the route; weak to fair in some spots
- Water: None
- Restrooms: Chemical toilets at the top of the Two Trees Trail
- Camping/backpacking: None
- More information: Description of the Two Trees Trail here; Two Trees Trail Hiking Project page here; Yelp page here
- Rating: 6
Updated February 2019
The giant “M” towering above Moreno Valley on the southeast slopes of Box Springs Mountain is a familiar sight to those traveling on the 60 freeway and a popular destination for Inland Empire hikers, especially those in the Riverside area. Many opt for the short but steep east route from Hidden Springs, but the M can also be reached via a longer hike, starting at the Two Trees Trail. Unfortunately, Box Springs Mountain Regional Park suffers from trash and graffiti and if there is smog, the views along the way to the M might disappoint, but this is still a challenging and worthwhile hike, especially if you have already hiked to the M from Hidden Springs. If you are short on time, you can drive to the top of the Two Trees Trail and start from there.
Most of the work happens on the Two Trees Trail, which gains about 950 feet in 1.3 miles. The trail starts out innocently enough, crossing a seasonal stream shaded by sycamores and willows, but that amounts to false advertising as the steady climb begins almost immediately. Expect to stop and catch your breath as you climb through the canyon. If visibility is good, the views west toward Riverside and the San Gabriels beyond are a reward for your efforts. The trail passes by numerous interesting geological formations as well.
The trail ends at Box Springs Road which comes up from Moreno Valley, the driving route for people who want to start at the upper trail head. Turn right and head past a picnic area with a restroom and begin the next leg of the hike. Although most of the distance is still ahead of you, you have already done well over half of the total elevation gain. Head south on the wide dirt road. In a short distance, you have the option of taking the single-track Spring Trail, which shaves off about 0.2 mile but involves more climbing. After the Spring Trail rejoins the dirt road, your climb continues around a hairpin turn before leveling out. You pass by multiple antenna installations before reaching the upper end of the M Trail coming up from below.
Just after the junction, bypass the antenna facility on a use trail to the right of the fence. This leads you to an overlook just above the “M” (which will appear more like a Greek “Epsilon” from this angle). If the air quality is good, your view includes San Jacinto, the Santa Anas, the San Gabriels, San Bernardinos and more. You also get an impressive view of Moreno Valley and the 60 freeway some 1500 feet below.
After enjoying the views, retrace your steps back to the Two Trees Trail. If you have set up a car shuttle, you can continue another 2 miles down the M trail to the Hidden Springs parking area.