Rowland Heights Loop
- Location: The closest parking is on Paso Real Avenue at Pathfinder Road in Rowland Heights. From the 60 Freeway, take the Nogales exit and head south for 1.2 miles. Turn right on Pathfinder and make the first right onto Paso Real. From Orange County, take the 57 Freeway to the S. Diamond Bar Blvd./Brea Canyon Cutoff exit. Turn left onto Brea Canyon Cutoff Road, go 0.9 mile and turn left onto Pathfinder. Go two miles and turn right on Paso Real.
- Agency: Los Angeles County Parks & Recreation
- Distance: 3.2 miles
- Elevation gain: 600 feet
- Suggested time: 1.5 hours
- Difficulty rating: PG
- Best season: October – June (No parking on Thursdays from 7am-11am)
- USGS topo map: “La Habra”
- Recommended gear: sun hat, hiking poles
- More information: Map My Hike report here
- Rating: 4
This trail is not actually a loop but more of an “L” shape. The eastern section, which heads south from Pathfinder Rd., is the more interesting and challenging part of the route, so that is the focus of this post. While it is essentially a suburban hike, the Rowland Heights Loop offers panoramic views, especially on clear days and provides a good, conveniently located workout.
Begin at the corner of Paso Real and Pathfinder Rd. Head west along Pathfinder for 0.1 mile. At the intersection with Wellesley Drive (a gated community), look for a dirt trail heading right and then ducking into a tunnel that runs underneath Pathfinder. This is the Desire Avenue Connector Trail, which briefly runs along the south side of Pathfinder before hooking up with the Rowland Heights Loop at a Y-junction, 0.3 mile from the start.
Bear left and head uphill on the bridle path, threading a corridor between two residential tracts, through groves of black walnut, willow and a few wild palms and sycamores. Although you are only a few dozen yards from the homes, this part of the trail feels pleasantly remote, especially as the noise from Pathfinder fades. The only reminders of civilization are, sadly, trash and graffiti.
The trail crosses Elmhurst St. at 0.6 mile and Amberly Place at 0.8 mile and then begins the main climb, ascending a few switchbacks to rise above the homes on the hillside. At 1.1 miles from the start, the trail passes the last of the houses and takes on a more rural feel, becoming a single-track that is overgrown in spots but never too difficult to follow. After meandering through a field, you begin a short but very steep climb, loose in spots, climbing about 100 feet in 0.1 mile. The ascent brings you to a service road (1.4 miles from the start). Bear left; right brings you almost immediately to a fence (note this spot for the return as the junction is not marked.)
After gradually ascending through another hillside meadow, you reach a T-junction (1.6 miles from the start). This is the end of the Rowland Heights Loop Trail, although you can briefly extend the hike by following the road in either direction before coming to private property. On the way back, enjoy views of the greater City of Industry area with the San Jose Hills and San Gabriel Mountains beyond. Just make sure to watch your step on the steep descent from the service road.
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.