Steep Canyon Loop

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Baldy and the 'Burbs from the Ridge Route
Baldy and the ‘Burbs from the Ridge Route
On the Canyon Route
On the Canyon Route

Steep Canyon Loop

  • Location: Diamond Bar, corner of Steep Canyon Road and Clear Creek Canyon Drive.  From the 57 freeway, take the Diamond Bar Blvd. exit go northeast (right) for 3.7 miles.  Turn right on Steep Canyon Drive and head uphill.  Park on the corner of Steep Canyon Road and Clear Creek Canyon Drive.
  • Agency: City of Diamond Bar; River & Mountains Conservancy
  • Distance: 1.8 miles
  • Elevation gain: 600 feet
  • Suggested time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty rating: PG
  • Best season:  Year-round
  • USGS topo map: “San Dimas”
  • Recommended gear: hiking poles
  • More information:  here; Everytrail report here
  • Rating: 6

This short but surprisingly challenging loop hike takes in a nice variety of scenery in less than two miles.  Although some parts of it are exposed, it’s short enough that it’s doable during the summer, if you plan accordingly.  Along the route, interpretive plaques describe the history of the area, both natural and human (including the 19th century ranchers whose branding symbol was a diamond over a horizontal bar.)

From the Steep Canyon trailhead, head up the stairs.  If there are any doubts about how Steep Canyon got its name, this initial climb up the stairs should lay them to rest.  After about a hundred quick feet of elevation gain, look for a single-track trail branching off to the right.  (The fire break which continues to ascend in front if you is your return route).  The trail follows the side of the hill, descends to a residential area and arrives at the Canyon Route.  Head left on the fire road and climb uphill again, past some power lines, and into a wooded area.  Here, other than some road noise and the power lines above, the signs of civilization are virtually nil.

The trail levels out for a short distance and then makes another steep climb to a fire road.  Head left here, and take an optional spur (signed for the Diamond Bar Center), to a vista point with great views to the east.  If the air is clear, you can see San Gorgonio and San Jacinto.

The fire road continues and becomes the Ridge Route, makes a descent and one final climb to a vista point, where hikers can take a well-earned break on a bench.  Here, the scenery includes the San Gabriels, Santa Ana Mountains, Puente Hills and downtown L.A.  After you’ve finished enjoying the 360-degree view, you continue the route with a steep descent that takes you back to the staircase.

Special note: sharp-eyed hikers, especially those who have been following this blog for a while, might want to take a look at the picture of Big Falls shown on the interpretive plaque on the Ridge Route’s high point.  Not to brag, of course…

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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