Towers Loop (Box Springs Mountain Park)
- Location: Box Springs Mountain Park, Moreno Valley. From the 60 Freeway, take the Frederick St./Pigeon Pass Road exit and head north (right if you’re coming from the east; left if from the west) for 3.9 miles. Just after the road bends to the west, stay straight to continue onto Box Springs Mountain Road. Go 1.3 miles on Box Springs Mountain Road (it becomes dirt after 0.6 miles, but it’s in good condition and won’t present an issue). Enter the park and pull into the lot signed for day use. Day use fees are $5 per vehicle and $2 for each pet.
- Agency: Riverside County Regional Park & Open Space District
- Distance: 3.6 miles
- Elevation gain: 800 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG
- Suggested time: 2 hours
- Best season: October – May
- USGS topo maps: Riverside; San Bernardino South
- Recommended gear: hiking poles; sun hat
- Recommended guidebook: Afoot and Afield: Inland Empire
- More information: Yelp page here; trail map here; Everytrail report here
- Rating: 6
This loop explores the south end of Box Springs Mountain Park, passing by – as its name suggests – several radio towers. While the Two Trees and Big C trails provide nice views of the San Gabriels and the hike to the “M” features views to the east of San Gorgonio and San Jacinto, you’ll get to see all of the above from this loop. Unfortunately the views are often diminished by the smog, and the park suffers from depressing amounts of graffiti, but Box Springs is a valuable Inland Empire recreational resource, conveniently located to San Bernardino and Riverside and well worth a visit.
There are several possible variations on this loop but the basic idea is to head southeast toward the towers, loop around them and return via either of two trails. From the parking area, head south on the fire road to a junction where you’ll bear right on the Springs Trail, a single-track. It heads steadily uphill, reaches a vista point with a bench and then descends, rejoining the service road (0.5 miles.) Turn left and continue your climb, getting a good look at San Gorgonio and San Bernardino on the way up.
At 1.5 miles you reach a junction. Make a hard right (the left fork continues to the “M”) and pass by the antennas. If the air is clear you’ll get a good aerial view of Moreno Valley with the Santa Ana Mountains distant. In a quarter mile you come to another junction where you’ll turn right, heading toward yet another antenna cluster.
When the service road meets the last antenna (2 miles), turn left on a rough-looking trail heading downhill. The Hidden Springs Trail is a single-track that switchbacks down the west side of the mountain, providing more of a wilderness feel than the fire roads. You pass by some interesting geological outcrops with great views of the San Gabriels in front of you.
At 2.6 miles, you reach a T-junction. You can shorten your hike by heading right on a service road, but to make the route a little more interesting, head left and follow the dirt road to a junction with the Edison Trail (2.8 miles.) Turn right and follow the single track Edison Trail through a shallow canyon. Despite the power lines overhead, this last stretch has the most remote feel of any in the loop. You pass by jumbles of rocks and into an open field before making a final steep descent back to the parking lot.
Text and photography copyright 2014 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.