Buzzard Peak (West Approach)
- Location: West Covina, corner of Hillside Drive and Grand Avenue. From I-10, take the Grand Avenue exit and turn right (south) and go 1.2 miles. Turn right on Hillside Drive and park where available. From the 57/60 freeways, take the Grand Avenue exit and head northwest (left if you’re coming from the east, right if from the west) and go 4.3 miles. Turn left on Hillside Drive and park where available.
- Agency: Los Angeles County Parks & Recreation
- Distance: 3.2 miles
- Elevation gain: 750 feet
- Suggested time: 1.5 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; Mountainzone page here
- Rating: 6
You already know how to get to Buzzard Peak from the north, but the tallest summit of the San Jose Hills (elevation 1,345) can also be reached from the west, starting at Grand Avenue. Like the north approach, this route follows the Schabarum Trail. Like most of the trail, this section stays pretty close to the nearby residential areas but it manages to have a fairly secluded feel, passing through some wooded canyons before climbing a ridge and providing great views if the air is clear. There are a few caveats however: while the corner of Hillside and Grand is the most convenient access point, parking there will require you to run across Grand Avenue, where there is no light or crosswalk. If you prefer you can park a quarter mile north on the corner of Cameron and Grand and cross at the light. You’ll also need to watch out for poison oak, and like the approach from the north, an off-trail scramble is required to reach the peak.
After crossing Grand, pick up the signed Schabarum Trail and make a quick ascent, climbing about 150 feet in a quarter mile. The trail soon levels out and heads north, affording a nice view of the San Gabriels. After rounding a corner, it descends into a shaded canyon where you pass by two authentic-looking teepees.
Leaving the canyon you climb a hillside, first passing some private houses where you may notice burros and horses; then a large oak with a platform (an abandoned treehouse perhaps?) constructed on the upper branches.
At about a mile, the trail dips into another canyon that seems surprisingly secluded, although it is in fact just behind a row of houses on Seton Hill Drive. Climbing out of the canyon, you reach a fire road (1.2 miles.) Turn left and begin a steady climb around the side of Buzzard Peak. Your efforts are rewarded with nice views of the Ontario/Cucamonga Ridge and Mt. Baldy.
At 1.5 miles, take a hard right on a fire-break like trail that steeply ascends to Buzzard Peak. Though the spur to the summit is short, exercise caution; the trail cuts closely to the side of the cliff.
On the summit, enjoy the 360-degree panorama which (given good air quality) includes downtown L.A., the Hollywood Hills, Verdugo Mountains, San Gabriels, San Bernardino and Santa Ana ranges. You can return via the same route or with a car shuttle, continue east and then north on the Schabarum Trail, ending up on the corner of Palomino and South Garvey.
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.