Hillside Wilderness Preserve, Monrovia, CA

Hillside Wilderness Preserve (Monrovia): East end

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    • Location: Ridgeside Drive, Monrovia. From Foothill Blvd. in Monrovia, head north on Canyon Blvd. (2 miles east of Santa Anita Avenue if you are coming from the west; 0.6 mile west of Mountain Avenue if you are coming from the east.) In 0.7 mile, bear right to stay on Canyon Blvd. In 0.3 mile, turn left on Ridgeside. The entrance to the preserve is on the left in 0.4 mile (a sign indicates that it is private property but hikers are allowed access as long as they stay on the pavement.) Note: There are several signs indicating that a resident or guest parking permit is required to park here. On my recent visit I was told by a resident that this system is no longer in place. However, those who want to play it safe can park about 0.2 mile past the entrance, after Ridgeside Drive makes a hairpin turn and begins heading south. Also note posted street sweeping times (Tuesday on one side of the road; Wednesday on the other.)
    • Agency: City of Monrovia
    • Distance: 2.6 miles
    • Elevation gain: 450 feet
    • Suggested time: 1.5 hours
    • Difficulty rating: PG
    • Best season: Year round but hot during the summer
    • Dogs: Allowed on leash
    • Cell phone reception: Good for most of the route; weak in some spots
    • Water: None
    • Restrooms: None
    • Camping/backpacking: None
    • More information: Description of a run through the entire preserve here; Facebook page here
    • Rating: 5

Updated November 2018

Conceived in 2000 but not fully opened until 2016, the 1416-acre Hillside Wilderness Preserve in Monrovia features several miles of trails with panoramic city and mountain views. This post describes a short but enjoyable hike to the highest point in the preserve, a 1,446-foot bump. While this route is not as challenging or as scenically varied as the approach from the western end of the preserve, it is still a good option for people who want a quick escape into nature or for families with small kids. It also receives less visitation than other nearby sites such as Monrovia Canyon Falls and Chantry Flats (on a recent Sunday visit, I only saw two other hikers).

From Ridgeside, follow the driveway past a private residence to a metal gate that marks the entrance to the preserve. The fire road, formerly known as the Clamshell Truck Trail, ascends steadily, providing views of the San Gabriel Valley to the south. At 0.6 mile from the start, the trail makes a pronounced bend and heads north into a pleasantly secluded hollow, shaded with oaks and sycamores. Your ascent continues to a saddle 1.1 miles from the start. Here you leave the fire road, which heads south toward private property, and follow a single-track that negotiates the ridge. At the next junction, signed for the lookout point, bear left and follow the trail to the benchmark.

After enjoying the view of the San Gabriel Valley (and if visibility is good, Catalina, downtown Los Angeles and the Santa Ana Mountains) retrace your steps. Options for a longer hike include continuing toward the western end of the preserve and returning via the same route for a 7.6-mile out and back or via city streets for a 6 mile loop. If you are able to set up a car shuttle at the other end, the preserve also makes for a good point to point hike.

Hillside Wilderness Preserve, Monrovia
Gate at the start of the hike
Hillside Wilderness Preserve, Monrovia
Trail map near the entrance
Hillside Wilderness Preserve, Monrovia, CA
Foliage on the fire road
Hillside Wilderness Preserve, Monrovia
View of the San Gabriel Valley
Hillside Wilderness Preserve, Monrovia, CA
Looking west from the summit
Hillside Wilderness Preserve, Monrovia, CA
Looking north from the summit
Hillside Wilderness Preserve, Monrovia
Looking east from the summit
Hillside Wilderness Preserve, Monrovia, CA
Sunset through the trees on the descent

Text and photography copyright 2018 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.


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