Ranger Ridge Trail, Chino Hills State Park, CA

Raptor Ridge/Ranger Ridge Loop (Chino Hills State Park)

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    • Location: Chino Hills State Park. From the 71 Expressway, take exit 7 (Soquel Canyon Parkway/Central Avenue.) Head southwest on Soquel Canyon Parkway (turn right if you’re coming from the north, left if from the south) for a mile. Turn left on Elinvar Drive and go 0.2 miles to the signed entrance of the park, right after Elinvar becomes Sapphire. Follow the newly paved road. Several sections have only one lane for traffic in both directions so exercise caution. At the self-serve kiosk, pay the $5 day use fee. Park where available at Rolling M Ranch, 3.2 miles from the entrance and about 0.6 mile past the Aliso Canyon day use area.
    • Agency:  Chino Hills State Park (home page here)
    • Distance: 5 miles
    • Elevation gain: 750 feet
    • Difficulty Rating: PG
    • Suggested time: 2.5 hours
    • Best season: November – May
    • Recommended gear: Long pants and sleeves; sun hatsunblock
    • Dogs: Not allowed
    • Cell phone reception: None for most of the route; weak to fair on the higher sections of the Raptor Ridge and Ranger Ridge Trails
    • Water: Fountains and sinks at park entrance kiosk and at Rolling M Ranch
    • Restrooms: Full restrooms at park entrance kiosk and at Rolling M Ranch
    • Camping: At Rolling M Ranch
    • More information: Trail map here; Yelp page here
    • Rating: 5

This hike is a mirror image and slightly longer version of the Upper Aliso Canyon Loop, exploring the northern corner of Chino Hills State Park between Bane Canyon and San Juan Hill.  As with the Upper Aliso Canyon Loop, the power lines are hard to ignore, but if you don’t mind that reminder of civilization, you will be rewarded with some wide-ranging views in all directions and a good workout for your troubles.

Begin by leaving the Rolling M Ranch area and heading south to the eastern end of the Telegraph Canyon Trail. (By hiking clockwise, as described here, you will get to save the most interesting part for last.) Follow the Telegraph Canyon Trail gradually uphill for 0.9 mile; this stretch overlaps with the final leg of the Upper Aliso Canyon Loop. After the turnoff for the Raptor Ridge Trail, continue west on Telegraph Canyon. At about 1.5 mile from the start, the trail makes a short but steep uphill lunge, climbing to a ridge on San Juan Hill’s northeastern slope. At a T-junction, the Telegraph Canyon Trail continues by heading right (the left fork, Telegraph Spur, leads to the South Ridge Trail.) The Telegraph Canyon Trail continues west for an easy going half mile to reach Four Corners. This spot marks the halfway point of the hike and with most of the elevation gain behind you, you can sit at a picnic table under a shelter and relax.

The next leg of the trip is the single-track Raptor Ridge Trail. It heads northeast, taking in some nice views of Telegraph Canyon below. Other than the power lines, this stretch of trail has a pleasantly isolated feel. You pass a junction with the Faultline Trail and for the next 0.3 miles, again share the route with the Upper Aliso Canyon Loop. After the Raptor Ridge Trail branches off to the right, stay straight on the Ranger Ridge Trail. Views include the San Gabriels to the north and the northern end of the Santa Anas to the south; if visibility is good, you may be able to make out San Gorgonio and San Jacinto in the distance.

After a brief climb, you cross under the power lines one last time and begin a steep descent on a narrow single-track that tends to get overgrown. This final  stretch of the loop, which may require some bushwhacking, has a more rugged feel than what’s come before. The trail makes one final drop to reach the Rolling M Campground. Complete the loop by following the road through the campground and back to your starting point.

Telegraph Canyon, Chino Hills State Park, CA
Eastern end of Telegraph Canyon
Raptor Ridge Trail, Chino Hills State Park
Looking northwest from the Raptor Ridge Trail
Ranger Ridge Trail, Chino Hills State Park, CA
Sierra Peak from the Ranger Ridge Trail
Ranger Ridge Trail, Chino Hills State Park, CA
Final descent on the Ranger Ridge Trail

Text and photography copyright 2017 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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