Olive Hill (Moreno Valley)
- Location: Moreno Valley. From Riverside, take the 60 Freeway to Perris Blvd. Turn left on Sunnymead Blvd and take the first left on to Perris Blvd. Go 1.3 miles and turn right onto Jaclyn St. Go half a mile and turn left on to Kitching. Follow it to the end and park where available. From the east, take the 60 Freeway to Nason St. Turn right and go 0.4 miles to Ironwood Ave. Turn left and go 1.4 miles to Slawson. Turn right and go 0.5 miles to Kalmia. Turn left and go 0.2 miles to Kitching. Turn right and follow Kitching 0.4 miles to its end.
- Agency: City of Moreno Valley
- Distance: 2.4 miles
- Elevation gain: 850 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG
- Suggested time: 1.5 hours
- Best season: November – May. Note: Parking is not allowed on Mondays from 7am to 2pm.
- USGS topo map: “Sunnymead”
- Recommended gear: sun hat
- More information: City website description here (longer distance/elevation gain reflects a different starting point); Map My Hike report here; Peakery page here
- Rating: 6
Olive Hill (elevation 2,874) is the highest point in the Kalmia Mountains, a small range north of Moreno Valley. Its prime location provides vistas not only of the immediate suburbs but many of So Cal’s important mountain ranges: the Santa Anas, the San Gabriels, the San Jacintos, the Santa Rosas and the Palomars. Sadly, the trail leading up the south side of the mountain has been vandalized by people who can’t have nice things and with broken glass littering the lower portion of the hike, dogs, while allowed, are not recommended. (The trail is completely exposed too, offering very little shade for hikers of either two or four legs). Despite these annoyances the hike to Olive Hill is a worthwhile experience, providing a good workout conveniently located to much of the Inland Empire, with truly great views when the air is clear.
The trail is a little tricky to find, but once you’re on it, navigation is straightforward, save for a few spots where it’s been washed out or where switchbacks have been cut. From the north end of Kitching St., make your way northeast across a wash, aiming for a tall, lone rock covered in graffiti. Continue up the wash a short distance to a faint, unsigned trail leading off to the left, only 0.1 miles from the beginning.
The trail heads steadily uphill, weaving in and out of some giant granite boulders, taking in wider and wider views as it climbs. At half a mile, after a brief scramble up an eroded stretch, stay right as a false trail heads off to the left. At one mile, you reach a bench below the summit, following a ridge with views of the San Jacinto range to the right and the San Gabriels to the left, towering above the closer Box Springs Mountain and Blue Mountain.
Finally you reach the flat summit where you can enjoy a nearly 360 degree view, including a bird’s eye perspective on the immediate neighborhoods. You can retrace your steps for a 2.4 mile round trip or follow the trail heading north which eventually curves around to Crystal Hill Road for a one-way hike if you’ve set up a shuttle or a longer loop hike, using 1.8 miles of residential streets to get back to your starting point.
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.