Hillside Wilderness Preserve (Monrovia)
- Location: There are several access points. This write-up assumes a start from the corner Cloverleaf Drive and Lotone St., Monrovia. From points west, take the 210 Freeway to Santa Anita Avenue (exit 32). Turn left, cross under the freeway, go 0.3 mile and turn right onto Foothill Blvd. Go 1.4 mile and turn left onto Alta Vista. Go 0.6 mile and turn left onto Cloverleaf. Follow it 0.1 mile to the intersection with Lotone, the closest access point (beyond here, residential permits are required for parking.) From the east, take the 210 Freeway to Mountain Ave. (exit 35A). Merge onto Central Avenue and then turn right onto Mountain Avenue. Go 1.1 mile and turn left onto Foothill Blvd. Follow Foothill for 1.2 miles to Alta Vista. Turn right and follow Alta Vista 0.6 mile to Cloverleaf. Turn left onto Cloverleaf and follow 0.1 mile to Lotone. Take note of posted parking restrictions.
- Agency: City of Monrovia
- Distance: 5 miles
- Elevation gain: 1,000 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG
- Suggested time: 2.5 hours
- Best season: October – May
- Recommended gear: hiking poles sun hat
- Dogs: Allowed on leash
- Cell phone reception: Weak
- Water: None
- Restrooms: None
- Camping: None
- More information: Map My Hike report here; articles about the preserve here and here; Facebook page here; description of the eastern part of the preserve (not covered in this post), written when restrictions were still in effect here
- Rating: 7
In 2000, the citizens of Monrovia voted to establish a wilderness park in the foothills north of town. More than a decade and a half later, following various legal maneuverings and negotiations with neighboring homeowners, the final of four access points opened up, making the entire 1,416-acre park available for public use.
Although there is only one main trail through the park, visitors have several enjoyable options for hiking routes. The 5 mile round trip described here starts at the newly established Cloverleaf Drive trailhead and climbs to the highest point in the park, a 1,446-foot hill with a benchmark designated as Sierra Madre K4. Other options include a long 7.4 mile round trip hike of the entire route, a 3.7-mile one way shuttle or a 6.2-mile loop including city streets.
Begin by heading north for 0.1 mile on Cloverleaf Drive. Just before the intersection with Hidden Valley Road, bear left on a signed trail. The route will intersect with several private roads, so make sure you keep to the trail, which is always clearly marked. In 0.3 mile, you reach the actual entrance to the park. The fire road bends left, passes a field and climbs steadily along an oak-shaded hillside before reaching a junction (0.5 mile.) Both routes climb steeply, but the left route (recommended by the park for “experienced” hikers) is a loose single-track with additional elevation gain while the right fork remains a fire road. I recommend heading uphill on the left route, which climbs 200 feet in a quarter mile, providing ever-expanding views and returning via the fire road. The single track climbs higher than the fire road, briefly following a ridge before dropping back down to close the loop 0.9 mile from the start.
You are now at an intersection of two service roads. Follow the left fork with descends gradually for the next half mile, briefly dipping into a grove of oaks and sycamores before reaching another junction. Make a hard right and begin a steep, exposed ascent (200 feet in 0.2 mile). Your efforts are rewarded with views of Big Santa Anita Canyon to the north and the San Gabriel Valley to the south.
The trail tops out at a ridge and heads east for 0.6 mile, climbing and descending from two small bumps before reaching a junction. The fire road heads toward private property in both directions, so continue east by making one last final steep climb on a single-track. Tight switchbacks bring you up to a ridge and a quarter mile from the road, you reach a short spur leading to the benchmark. For those who want to extend the hike, the trail continues a short distance to rejoin the road, which leads 1.3 miles downhill to the Ridgeside Drive trailhead.
Trees and bushes prevent a true 360-degree vista, but the panorama from this spot is still impressive. If visibility is good, the views extend to Catalina Island.
Photo gallery (click thumbnails to see the full sized versions)
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.