San Juan Hill, Chino Hills State Park

San Juan Hill from Rimcrest (Chino Hills State Park)

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  • Location: Yorba Linda.  From the 57 freeway, take Orangethorpe exit and head east for 4.2 miles.  Turn left on Kellogg, go 1.8 miles and turn right on Yorba Linda Blvd.  Go 0.3 miles and turn left on Fairmont.  Go 1.6 miles and turn left on Rim Crest.  Follow Rim Crest to its end and park on the corner of Blue Gum and Rim Crest.  From the Riverside area, take the 91 freeway to Yorba Linda Blvd.  Go northwest on Yorba Linda Blvd. for 2.4 miles, and turn right on Village Center.  Go a mile and turn left on Fairmont.  Go 0.3 miles and turn right on Rim Crest.
  • Agency: Chino Hills State Park
  • Distance: 6 miles
  • Elevation gain: 950 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (Distance, elevation gain)
  • Suggested time: 3 hours
  • Best season: November – May
  • Dogs: Not allowed
  • Cell phone reception: Good at trail head; fair on summit; none to weak for most of the route
  • Water: None
  • Restrooms: Chemical toilets at Four Points (see description)
  • Camping/backpacking: None on this route; camping at Chino Hills State Park is available at the Rolling M Campground
  • Recommended gear: sun hat; sunblock
  • Recommended guidebook: Afoot and Afield: Orange County: A Comprehensive Hiking Guide
  • More information: Trip descriptions here, here and here (including Gilman Peak)
  • Rating: 6

Though San Juan Hill’s height of 1,781 feet might seem minuscule by California standards, there is no higher point between it and the ocean or downtown L.A., meaning that on clear days, views are excellent. The peak is the highest in Chino Hills State Park and can be reached from the east or, as described below, from Yorba Linda’s Rimcrest trail head.

From Rim Crest, pick up the South Ridge Trail and head east, immediately making a stiff climb, picking up 200 feet in the first 0.3 mile. The trail soon levels out and continues to follow the ridge, providing views of north Orange County and the Santa Anas to the right and Telegraph Canyon and Gilman Peak to the left. You pass junctions with the Little Canyon Trail (0.9 miles), two service spurs (1.4 and 2 miles) and the Bovinian Delights Trail (2.5 miles.) Just after you cross an unnamed service road, look for a use trail signed for San Juan Hill. A short climb brings you to the summit where your efforts are rewarded with a 360-degree view. Mt. Baldy dominates the landscape to the north, towering above the Inland Empire suburbs. In the other direction, on days of good visibility you will be able to see the Palos Verdes Peninsula, Catalina Island and the Santa Monica Bay.

If you have time for a slightly longer return, an enjoyable option (especially on warm days) is to return via shaded Telegraph Canyon. To do this, follow the wide service road to the Bovinian Delights Trail, a single-track which leads you to Four Corners. Head west on the Telegraph Canyon trail which soon enters an attractive oak woodland. At 2.8 miles from Four Corners, pick up the Easy Street Trail and follow it uphill, half a mile back to the trail head. This variation adds 1.1 miles and about 100 feet of elevation gain.

South Ridge Trail, Chino Hills State Park
South Ridge Trail toward San Juan Hill
San Juan Hill, Chino Hills State Park
Looking southwest from below San Juan Hill
Telegraph Canyon, Chino Hills State Park
Oaks on the side of the ridge in Telegraph Canyon
Telegraph Canyon, Chino Hills State Park
Deep in Telegraph 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.


  1. Hiked Chino Hills it today. I’m still getting over the flu, so I took it really slow. Went over San Juan Hill and down into Telegraph Canyon before backtracking to Four Corners, then heading up the North Ridge Trail to Gilman Peak, then back down to Telegraph Canyon and return via Easy Street. I figure between 8 and 8.5 miles for the day, though it might have been more.

    I chatted with a few other hikers at Four Corners. They said the sign at the entry was 0/0–no charge. Don’t know how long that’ll be for, though.

    Thanks again for the post. It’s a bit of a drive for me, but I may try to hit the eastern part of the park the next time I visit.

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