Location: 2101 Fullerton Rd., La Habra Heights. From the 60 freeway, take the Fullerton Road exit and head south for 1.9 miles. Bare right to stay on Fullerton Road (it continues as Harbor Blvd.) and go 0.4 miles to the entrance to the park. Take a right and drive on a dirt road to the parking lot. You can also reach the park from the south via Harbor Blvd, taking a hard left on Fullerton Road.
Water: Fountain at trail head; additional facilities at Schabarum Regional Park
Restrooms: Chemical toilets at trail head; additional facilities at Schabarum Regional Park
More information: Trip descriptions here and here (slightly different route); Yelp page here; Park map here
If visibility is good, this can be one of the most scenic hikes in the Puente Hills. In addition to commanding views of Mt. Baldy, you may also catch a glimpse of distant San Gorgonio and San Jacinto to the east and Mt. Lukens to the west. Add a pleasant jaunt through Powder Canyon and you have a hike that should not be overlooked, especially by north Orange County and eastern L.A. County residents who don’t want to drive deep into the San Gabriels or Santa Ana Mountains.
From the staging area on Fullerton Road, head northwest into oak-shaded Powder Canyon on a pleasant dirt road (keep an eye out for occasional maintenance vehicles). You pass junctions with the Gray Squirrel Trail (0.3 mile) and Black Walnut Trail (0.2 mile) before climbing to a junction. The left fork, descending from the west, is the Purple Sage Trail, your return route. The Powder Canyon Trail continues straight, heading back down into the woods. (Another service road heads northwest for a short distance and a use trail climbs steeply up the hill to the east).
In another 0.4 mile, stay straight as you pass a junction with the Switchbacks Trail. You then reach some horse stables and a picnic area at Schabarum Regional Park. Bear left and cross a footbridge and continue following the trail (now signed as part of the “Bobcat Loop”) which skirts the south side of the picnic area, passing through a grove of eucalyptus trees. At 1.8 miles from the start, you reach a junction. Stay left (the right fork heads toward Schabarum Park’s north entrance).
Now comes the work and also the best views. The trail begins a steady ascent, at first through some oaks and then along a cactus-dotted hillside. You soon reach a junction where a short spur to the right leads to a vista point; a nice spot to catch your breath. All told, the trail gains 700 feet in about 1.4 miles as it climbs the crest of the Puente Hills, following a ridge with views in both directions and curving through a meadow to reach a junction with the Buena Vista Trail. (A steep use trail can also be used to get to the top). At the top of the Buena Vista Trail, you reach a junction with the Schabarum Trail, beneath some antennas. Despite the antennas the views are still excellent.
After enjoying the panorama, continue east along the Schabarum/Purple Sage Trail, which drops back down into the canyon. At 4.2 miles, you return to the Powder Canyon Trail, completing the loop. Turn right and follow it back to the parking lot.
Photo gallery (click thumbnails to see full sized versions)
Text and photography copyright 2017 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.