Chaparral Neighborhood Trail & Native Plant Garden
- Location: Lytle Creek Ranger Station, 1209 Lytle Creek Road, Lytle Creek. From I-15 in Fontana, take the Sierra Ave. exit and head northwest (turn left if you’re coming from the south, right if you’re coming from the north) for 4.9 miles. Sierra becomes Lytle Creek Road. The ranger station will be on the right.
- Agency: San Bernardino National Forest/Lytle Creek Ranger Station
- Distance: 0.6 miles
- Elevation gain: 100 feet
- Suggested time: 30 minutes
- Difficulty rating: G
- Best season: Year-round (hot during the summer)
- USGS topo map: Devore
- Recommended gear: sun hat
- More information: here; Everytrail report here
- Rating: 4
Located at the Lytle Creek Ranger Station, the Chaparral Neighborhood Trail and the nearby Native Plant Garden offer a convenient escape into nature. While the sights of overhead power lines and forest service buildings, and the sounds of traffic on Lytle Creek Road prevent it from feeling like a true wilderness experience, the views of the mountains are good, and it feels pretty isolated for being only five miles from the freeway. It can get hot during the summer, but the trail is short enough so that heat isn’t likely to be a big problem.
From the ranger station, head east on an unsigned dirt road. Shortly before it reaches a power installation, head left on a single-track trail that ascends gradually. You cross another service road and continue to a T-junction, where you’ll turn left (west). As you follow the trail, you’ll get nice views of the eastern slope of the Three T’s (Timber, Telegraph and Thunder Mountains).
You cross a wash and then the trail ends unceremoniously at a parking area for forest service vehicles, where some debris has been strewn around. However, the scenery gets better at the Native Plant Garden, on the opposite side of the paved road. A few paths lead through the garden, where interpretive plaques describe the plant life, including chaparral, coastal sage and more. An ivy-covered gazebo makes a nice place to sit and relax. And don’t worry about the large silhouette of a bear – it’s just a prop.
After visiting the garden, return to the ranger station and the parking area. If you have time, and are looking for a little more of an adventure, check out Bonita Falls, farther up Lytle Creek Road.
Text and photography copyright 2012 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.