Upper Aliso Canyon Loop (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 a total of 3.2 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. Follow Bane Canyon Road to its ending at the Rolling M Ranch, shortly past the campground, where the signed Upper Aliso Canyon Trail begins.
- Agency: Chino Hills State Park
- Distance: 3.8 miles
- Elevation gain: 700 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG
- Suggested time: 2 hours
- Best season: November – May
- Recommended gear: sun hat; sunblock
- Recommended guidebook: Afoot and Afield: Orange County
- USGS topo map: Prado Dam
- More information: Trip description here; Map My Hike report here; Chino Hills Park homepage here
- Rating: 6
This hike explores the northeast corner of Chino Hills State Park, looping around the bowl above Raptor Canyon, a tributary of Aliso Canyon. Though dominated by power lines, the views are still impressive, particularly those of the northern end of the Santa Anas.
From the end of the road at Rolling M Ranch, head north on the Upper Aliso Canyon Trail. Follow it for a pleasant if uneventful 0.7 miles, enjoying brief shade from a few scattered willows and oaks. Stay left as the Sidewinder Trail forks off, bending northwest and entering Raptor Canyon.
At 1.1 miles the Aliso Canyon Trail splits to the right, heading uphill. Stay left and follow the trail, signed in the park as Raptor Ridge and on some maps as Faultline. You make a steep ascent, passing an old windmill and then the fire road becomes a narrow but easy to follow single track, continuing west up the ridge. Near the top, you get a panoramic view of the northern sector of the park.
After a brief descent, the trail joins a dirt service road (2 miles from the start) where you get a nice aerial view of Telegraph Canyon with the Santa Anas distant. Turn left and follow the road for 0.3 miles, views on both sides, power lines above. Shortly after crossing under one of the towers, look for another fire road on the right, heading down into Telegraph Canyon.
You pass by the Hills for Everyone trail (currently closed until further notice) just before reaching the dirt road. Turn left and follow Telegraph Canyon east back toward Rolling M. Unfortunately this section of Telegraph Canyon isn’t as well shaded as the western portion, but the grade is nearly level, making for easy progress.
At 3.7 miles, you return to the paved road. Turn left and follow it back to your car. If you have time, take a moment to check out the historic buildings from the area’s ranching days and the interpretive plaques that provide more information.
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.