Sycamore Canyon Park (Claremont)
- Location: Higginbotham Park, Claremont. From the west, take the 210 Freeway to the Towne Ave. exit. Turn left on Towne, cross the freeway and turn right on Baseline. Go 0.4 miles and turn left on Mountain Ave. Go 0.3 miles and turn right on Sage. Go 0.2 miles and turn right on Mt. Carmel Drive. The park will be on the left in 0.1 miles. From the east, take the 210 Freeway to Baseline. Turn right and go 1.5 miles to Indian Hill. Turn right and go 0.4 miles to Mt. Carmel. Turn left and go 0.3 miles to the park, which will be on the right.
- Agency: City of Claremont
- Distance: 2 miles
- Elevation gain: 600 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG
- Suggested time: 1 hour
- Best season: Year round (hot during the summer)
- USGS topo map: “Mt. Baldy”
- Recommended gear: sun hat; hiking poles
- More information: Meet Up description here; article about the re-opening of the park here; Foursquare page here; Everytrail report here
- Rating: 5
Recently re-opened following the 2003 Grand Prix Fire, Sycamore Canyon Park features a short but steep trail connecting the Thompson Creek Trail with East Pomello Drive, a dirt road that is part of the Johnson Pasture/Gale Mountain Motorway loop. While this trail never really gets away from the sights and sounds of civilization, it offers a good workout (especially if you continue toward Johnson Pasture) and if the weather is clear, you get a great, nearly aerial view of the Claremont area and San Gabriel Valley. The citizens of Claremont deserve a special shout-out for their dedication to restoring this trail.
Though Sycamore Canyon can be accessed via the Thompson Creek Trail, the quickest way to reach it is by walking through Higginbotham Park. On the north side of the park, turn right on the Thompson Creek Trail, pass the restrooms and look for a staircase descending toward the entrance of Sycamore Canyon Park. Almost immediately you reach a junction where a spur heads straight into the canyon, soon reaching the ruins of a stone cabin (an optional side-trip). This route, however, follows the right fork, which wastes no time ascending a steep set of stairs. As you climb, you get better and better views.
After ascending almost 200 feet in about 0.2 miles, the trail levels out briefly and you reach a saddle where you get a good view of the Ontario/Cucamonga Ridge. The trail then makes a series of switchbacks, levels out again and makes a final steep push to the top. Just before reaching the dirt road a small clearing with a makeshift bench provides a great view to the east and the south. The clear-day vista includes Sugarloaf Mountain, San Gorgonio, San Jacinto, Box Springs, Old Saddleback, the Puente Hills and more. (Unfortunately Ontario and Cucamonga are obscured by power lines.)
After enjoying the view, return by the same route or continue toward Johnson Pasture. It’s also possible create a loop by descending the dirt road to the Thompson Creek Trail and following it southwest back to Higginbotham Park.
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.