Difficulty PG Distance 2.1 to 5 miles General information: Cellular Service General information: Dogs allowed General information: Hikes with free parking Rating: 4-6 Riverside & San Bernardino Season: Fall/Early Winter Season: Late Winter/Spring

San Timoteo Nature Sanctuary (Redlands)


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San Timoteo Canyon, Redlands, CA
Looking south from the vista point

San Timoteo Nature Sanctuary (Redlands)

  • Location: Redlands. From the west, take I-10 to California Ave. Turn right and follow California Ave for 1.3 miles to Barton Road (note that at Redlands Blvd, the first main intersection south of the freeway, you’ll need to make a quick right and then a quick left to stay on California Avenue.) Turn left on Barton and follow it 0.4 miles to San Timoteo Canyon Road. Turn right and follow San Timoteo Canyon Road for a total of 3.5 miles, noting that the road makes a hard left at 0.4 miles from Barton. Turn left on Alessandro Road and follow it 0.4 miles to the trail head which is a dirt lot by a metal gate on the left side of the street, shortly before Sunset Hills Lane. From the east, take I-10 to Live Oak Canyon Road. Turn left and follow Live Oak Canyon Road 4.5 miles to San Timoteo Canyon Road. Turn right and go 1.2 miles to Alessandro. Turn right and follow Allesandro 0.4 miles to the trail head.
  • Agency: Redlands Conservancy
  • Distance:  3.8 miles
  • Elevation gain:  200 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: PG
  • Suggested time: 1.5 hours
  • Best season: October – June
  • Recommended gear: sun hat
  • USGS topo map: Redlands
  • More information: Trip description here
  • Rating: 4
San Timoteo Nature Sanctuary trail head, Redlands, CA
0:00 – Trail head on Alessandro Road (click thumbnails to see the full sized versions)

This 200-acre preserve, made possible by the work of the Redlands Conservancy, is a hit with local hikers, bikers and equestrians. The main route is the Carriage Trail, whose construction in the 19th century speaks to the area’s historical significance as a transportation corridor linking Banning to the eastern end of the San Bernardino Valley. Another trail runs parallel to the Carriage Trail and several short connectors make for multiple possible routes. The 3.8-mile balloon-shaped loop here samples some of the park’s best scenery.

San Timoteo Creek
0:12 – San Timoteo Creek, just off the Carriage Trail half a mile from the start (times are approximate)

From Alessandro Road, step through the gate and begin heading northwest on a fire road. After a pleasant if somewhat forgettable 0.4 miles, the walls of the canyon pinch in and the vegetation (mainly willows with a few wild palms) becomes thicker. A few use trails lead down to seasonal San Timoteo Creek. Though you’re close to civilization, the trees form a nice buffer, creating a sense of isolation.

Trail intersection, San Timoteo Nature Sanctuary
0:20 – Start of the loop

At 0.8 miles, you reach a Y-junction; the start of the loop. To stay on the Carriage Trail, bear right and ascend gradually; for the next half mile the two trails run fairly close to each other. At 1.3 miles, stay right at another junction with a spur trail. Here the Carriage Trail begins the only significant ascent of the trip, winding through a grove of eucalyptus trees to another junction. Bear right again and follow a short spur higher up to an overlook where you can enjoy a panoramic view of San Timoteo Canyon which will likely include at least one freight train passing below. An unmaintained, unofficial trail leads higher but this is the recommended turnaround point.

San Timoteo Canyon, Redlands, CA
0:45 – Looking southeast from the vista point

From here you can retrace your steps on the Carriage Trail but if you want to make the hike into a loop, at the last junction, turn right and continue west. Soon you reach a connector (2 1/4 miles from the start). Take a hard left onto the spur and descend to the other main east-west trail. (West of this point, without trees to block the noise of traffic on San Timoteo Canyon Road, the hiking isn’t as pleasant.) Head left and hike back toward the start of the loop, passing through an attractive field of mustard flowers before rejoining the Carriage Trail at 3 miles. Retrace your steps back to Alessandro Road.

Trail in the San Timoteo Nature Preserve
0:55 – Connector trail leading downhill (turn left)

Text and photography copyright 2015 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.

San Timoteo Nature Sanctuary, Redlands, CA
1:11 – Heading back toward the Carriage Trail
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