Terry’s Wall (Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park)
- Location: Eastern Riverside, off Alessandro Blvd. From the 91 Freeway, take the Central Avenue exit and head east for 5.5 miles. On the way, Central Avenue becomes Alessandro Blvd. Turn left on Barton St., follow it a short distance to the end and park where available by the gate to Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park. From the 215 Freeway, take the Alessandro Blvd. exit and head west for 1.4 miles. Turn right on Barton St. and follow it to the end.
- Agency: City of Riverside
- Distance: 3.4 miles
- Elevation gain: 400 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG
- Suggested time: 2 hours
- Best season: October – May
- USGS topo maps: Riverside East
- Recommended gear: hiking poles; sun hat
- More information: Park homepage here; Terry’s Wall Strava segment profile here; Map My Hike report (similar route but longer) here; Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park Yelp page here
- Rating: 4
The City of Riverside’s large (1,500 acre) Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park is a popular mountain biking destination and also a good spot for Inland Empire hikers to keep in mind, at least on cool days. With dozens of miles of trails–some official, some unofficial–crossing the park, there are possible routes of all lengths. It’s an enjoyable place to walk around without a particular destination or goal in mind, but hikers who want a specific route can try Terry’s Wall, an oblong loop that can be reached from the park’s south entrance off Alessandro Blvd. It offers a moderate workout with views of the nearby Box Springs Mountains, a seasonal stream, interesting jumbles of boulders, wide meadows and more. It’s also relatively free of trash and graffiti, which are problems elsewhere in the park. The route, while unsigned and intersected by several unofficial use trails, is easy to follow; all of the trails involved are listed on Google Maps.
From the end of Barton St., follow the trail heading north along the wall separating the park from the Metropolitan Water District property. After 0.2 miles, the trail bends northeast and drops into the canyon. At 0.5 miles, just before the stream crossing at an informational board describing the invasive plants that live in the park, bear left onto the South Arroyo Trail (unsigned). Follow it northwest for a pleasant 0.3 miles to a four-way junction. This is the start of Terry’s Wall.
The 1.8-mile loop can be hiked in either direction. If you opt to go straight, you’ll follow the seasonal stream for a short distance before making a hard left on what loops like a fire break but is actually the continuation of Terry’s Wall, climbing steeply to a high point, dropping briefly and then climbing again to a plateau near a residential area. Two other trails (Triple R and Pole Line Road) branch off here for those who want to explore more of the park; there’s also a bench where hikers can enjoy great views of the Box Springs Mountains and on days of good visibility the San Bernardino, San Gabriel and San Jacinto ranges. This is the approximate half way point of the loop and the hike.
From this point, continue on the loop in either direction, descending back to the junction in the canyon. More options for exploring are available (you can cross the stream to the North Arroyo Trail for example) but hikers who want to call it a day can retrace their steps from this point, 0.8 miles back uphill to the trail head.
Text and photography copyright 2016 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.