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Bobcat Ridge Trail (Chino Hills State Park)

    • Location: Chino Hills State Park. From the 71 Expressway, take exit 7 (Soquel Canyon Parkway/Central Avenue.) Head southwest on Soquel Canyon Parkway (turn right if you’re coming from the north, left if from the south) for a mile. Turn left on Elinvar Drive and go 0.2 miles to the signed entrance of the park, right after Elinvar becomes Sapphire. Follow the newly paved road for 2.6 miles; several sections have only one lane for traffic in both directions so exercise caution. At the self-serve kiosk, pay the $5 day use fee. Park in the Lower Aliso Canyon day use lot which is on the left side of the road, shortly before it begins to curve back north.
    • Agency:  Chino Hills State Park (home page here)
    • Distance: 6.2 miles
    • Elevation gain: 950 feet
    • Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (distance, elevation gain)
    • Suggested time: 3 hours
    • Best season: October – May
    • Recommended gear: sun hat sunblock
    • Dogs: Not allowed
    • Cell phone reception: None for almost all of the route; weak to fair in some spots
    • Water: Fountains and sinks at park entrance kiosk; faucet at trail head
    • Restrooms: Full restrooms at park entrance kiosk; chemical toilets at trail head
    • Camping: At Rolling M Ranch
    • More information: Trail map here; Yelp page here
    • Rating: 6

The Bobcat Ridge Trail explores some of the highest terrain in Chino Hills State Park east of San Juan Hill. On cool, clear days, this rigorous hike can be very enjoyable, providing terrific views of the Santa Ana Mountains, San Gabriels and San Bernardinos as well as the suburbs in between.

Begin by heading south on dirt Bane Canyon Road, passing junctions with the Corral and Lower Aliso Trails. You head through a pleasant, sycamore-dotted meadow that usually becomes green following rains. After crossing a footbridge, you reach a junction (0.7 mile) with the Lower Aliso Trail. Turn right, passing the turnoff for Water Canyon, and begin a steady ascent on the Skully Ridge Trail. The views get better and better as you climb to a junction (1.25 miles from the start). Loops of varying distances are possible by heading south on the Skully Ridge Trail and returning on the Lower Aliso Canyon Trail, but this post will follow the Bobcat Ridge Trail (the right fork).

The grade levels out slightly as the Bobcat Ridge Trail makes its way west, taking in an aerial panorama of Water Canyon with the San Gabriel Mountains distant. It starts to bend south, skirting the upper rim of Brush Canyon (east and south) and Wire Canyon (west). You curve around the side of a 1600-foot knoll, enjoying views of Orange County’s coastal plain to the southwest. If visibility is good, you may see Catalina Island.

At 3.1 miles, as the trail starts to descend toward a locked gate outside a residential neighborhood, you reach an unsigned junction with the no-longer-maintained Wire Springs Spur Trail. This is a good turnaround point, although hikers who want to continue can follow the trail downhill another 0.6 mile, descending 250 feet (which of course must be made up on the return) to the trail’s true end point.

Photo gallery (click thumbnails to see the full sized versions)

Bobcat Ridge Trail, Chino Hills State Park

Ascending the Bobcat Ridge Trail

Bobcat Ridge Trail, Chino Hills State Park, CA

O.C. suburbs from the Bobcat Ridge Trail

Bobcat Ridge Trail, Chino Hills State Park, CA

Looking northeast from the Bobcat Ridge Trail

Bobcat Ridge Trail, Chino Hills State Park, CA

View from the turnaround point

Text and photography copyright 2017 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.

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