Difficulty PG Distance 2.1 to 5 miles General information: Hikes with free parking Puente Hills, Chino Hills & North Orange County Rating: 4-6 Season: Fall/Early Winter Season: Late Winter/Spring

Buzzard Peak (North Approach)


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View of Mt. Baldy from Buzzard Peak
View of Mt. Baldy and the San Gabriels from Buzzard Peak
Ascending the Schabarum Trail to Buzzard Peak
Ascending the Schabarum Trail to Buzzard Peak

Buzzard Peak (North Approach)

  • Location: East Garvey Avenue South and Palomino Drive, Covina.  From L.A., take the Holt Avenue exit.  Merge onto East Garvey Avenue South and go 0.6 miles.  Park on the corner of East Garvey and Palomino, by the entrance to a gated community.  From the east, take I-10 to Holt Avenue.  Turn left on Holt, go 0.2 miles and turn left on East Garvey.  The trail begins on the south side of East Garvey Ave just past Palomino Drive.
  • Agency: Los Angeles County Parks & Recreation
  • Distance: 3.4 miles
  • Elevation gain: 800 feet
  • Suggested time: 2 hours
  • Difficulty rating: PG
  • Best season: Year-round (hot during the summer)
  • USGS topo map: “San Dimas”
  • Recommended gear: sunblock; sun hat
  • More information:  Everytrail report here; story about the Schabarum Trail here; Strava page here
  • Rating: 5
0:00 - Trail head on the corner of Palomino and Garvey (click thumbnails to see the full sized pictures)
0:00 – Trail head on the corner of Palomino and Garvey (click thumbnails to see the full sized pictures)

Like the nearby Puente Hills, the San Jose Hills provide views that are wider-ranging than their modest height would suggest. They don’t have as extensive a network of trails as the Puente Hills, but the climb to Buzzard Peak, utilizing the county Schabarum Recreational Trail, is a good workout that provides views of the San Gabriels, the San Bernardino Mountains, Orange County and more. Best done on a clear, cool day, the hike can also be an option for the summer, with an early or late start and adequate protection.

0:08 - The meadow after the end of Mesquite Lane (times are approximate)
0:09 – The meadow after the end of Mesquite Lane (times are approximate)

The hike starts inauspiciously by following I-10 for a few minutes, but soon slips into a pleasant woodland of wild palms, black walnut and sycamore trees. It emerges on the back side of Mesquite Lane, a cul-de-sac, passing by some private homes (beware of dogs). It continues through a meadow before dropping down to Palomino Drive (half a mile from the start.)

0:12 - Turn left on Palomino Drive
0:13 – Turn left on Palomino Drive

Turn left on Palomino and follow the street a short distance, just past Martingail, and turn left at the sign for the Schabarum Trail. You head uphill on a somewhat rough path, threading your way between homes, crossing Martingail at about 0.8 miles from the start. By this point, Buzzard Peak’s conical shape should be visible to the south.

0:22 - Schabarum Trail past Martingail
0:22 – Schabarum Trail past Martingail

From here, the trail works its way up the north slope of the hills, quite steeply at times, although a little bit of shade from some oaks and black walnut trees helps. You get nice views of the San Gabriel Valley along the way.

0:42 - Fire road at the top of the ridge (turn right)
0:42 – Fire road at the top of the ridge (turn right)

At 1.4 miles, you reach a T-junction with a fire road. Turn right and follow the road for an easy quarter mile along a ridge toward Buzzard Peak. Just before the road curves around the summit, look for a narrow use trail heading uphill, climbing about 100 feet to the peak. The trail is steep and loose in some spots–and gets very close to the edge–so exercise caution.  Some hikers may find poles helpful on this stretch.

0:48 - Just below the peak; note the use trail leading left from the road
0:49 – Just below the peak; note the use trail leading left from the road

At 1,329 feet, Buzzard Peak is the tallest point in the San Jose Hills and you get a nice 360-degree panorama. Unfortunately there’s no real place to sit, and the summit has been littered with broken glass and trash, but you should still rest your legs before beginning the steep descent back to the fire road.

0:50 - Don't look down!
0:52 – Don’t look down!

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.

0:55 - Looking northwest toward Mt. Wilson from Buzzard Peak
0:55 – Looking northwest toward Mt. Wilson from Buzzard Peak
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