Tin Mine Canyon
- Location: Corona. From the south, take I-15 to El Cerrito. Turn left and go a total of 4.4 miles on El Cerrito, which becomes Foothill Parkway. At Trudy Drive, make a U-turn and park on Foothill Parkway facing east in one of the few spots designated for the Skyline Trail. From the 91 Freeway, take the Lincoln Exit and head south (left if you’re coming from the west, right if from Riverside) and go 2.6 miles to Foothill Parkway. Turn right and go 0.7 miles to the intersection with Trudy Drive, make a U-turn and park where available facing east on Foothill Parkway.
- Agency: Cleveland National Forest, Trabuco Ranger District
- Distance: 4.6 miles
- Elevation gain: 650 feet
- Suggested time: 2 hours
- Difficulty rating: PG
- Best season: October – May
- USGS topo maps: Corona South
- Recommended gear: Sun Hat; Insect Repellent
- Recommended guidebook: Afoot and Afield: Orange County
- More information: Trip descriptions here and here; Yelp page here; Meetup page with photos and trip description here; Everytrail report here
- Rating: 6
Located on the eastern slope of the Santa Ana Mountains, just beyond the fringes of Corona’s residential neighborhoods, Tin Mine Canyon feels pleasantly secluded and rugged. Highlights include a seasonal stream, geology, live oaks and sycamores, good mountain views and, yes, an abandoned tin mine.
The actual Tin Mine Canyon trail can be accessed by walking just over a mile on the Skyline Trail. When the Skyline Trail makes a hairpin right turn, begin hiking on the Tin Mine Canyon trail just past an information board. The trail quickly leaves civilization behind as it heads east into the canyon. You cross the stream bed several times, generally keeping the bottom of the canyon on your left. A bench beneath a large oak makes for a good rest spot.
At 1.7 miles, the canyon narrows and the trail clings to the rock wall on the left. You’ll pass by the sealed off entrance to the tin mine. The trail then passes by a dramatic cluster of oaks beneath a tall pink sandstone wall before re-emerging into the open, where you get some nice views of the hills above.
Farther up, the trail continues to weave in and out of the stream bed; you may well see at least some water by this point. Keep an eye out for poison oak as you make your way deeper into the canyon. The thick vegetation and tight canyon walls lock in much of the moisture from the stream, making the air surprisingly humid.
At about 2 1/4 miles from the start, you reach the end of the official trail. A little bit of rock scrambling will bring you to a pleasant grotto where water trickles down a 5-foot rock face into a pool. This makes a good turnaround point although intrepid hikers can continue up the canyon, eventually reaching all the way up to Main Divide Road.
ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS FROM JOEL ROBINSON OF WWW.NATURALISTFORYOU.ORG:
In the spring, Tin Mine creek is a convenient place to observe California newts, a species of salamander that requires a healthy riparian (natural stream) ecosystem to survive. Wild grape vines, blackberry, bigleaf maple, bay laurel, cottonwoods, alder, and willow occur in the shadier spots where there is a higher water table. Various species of mountain lilac (Ceanothus sp.) bloom white and lavender over the emerald slopes of mature chaparral. Canyon sweet pea, yellow bush penstemon, stinging lupine, Matilija poppy, and other showy wildflowers can also be see in the spring. Be mindful of the poison oak, which grows in abundance along the creek, especially near the waterfalls.
The USFS closed the mine entrances with metal grates to preserve wildlife habitat for cave dwelling organisms, such as Monterey ensatina (lungless salamander), tree frogs, and bats. Supposedly, the only real tin came from the Cajalco Tin Mine near Lake Matthews in the Gavilan Hills.
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.