Best Easy Day Hikes Riverside  by Alleen Riedel

Best Easy Day Hikes: Riverside Guide Book

by Alleen Riedel (Falcon Guides)
Best Easy Day Hikes Riverside  by Alleen Riedel
Best Easy Day Hikes Riverside includes concise descriptions and detailed maps of twenty of the author’s favorite hikes in and around Riverside, California. Local guide Allen Riedel leads the way through a region of scenery, historical sites, and natural beauty—from trails along the chaparral-covered slopes of the Santa Anna Mountains to the lush forests of the San Jacinto and Santa Rosa ranges. Look inside for: • Half-hour strolls and full-day adventures • Hikes for everyone, including families • GPS-compatible trail maps

© 2009 Alleen Riedel/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Best Easy Day Hikes: Riverside" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 20.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 20.

A spectacular family adventure awaits on this very easy hike to a geologic rarity. The picturesque and idyllic vernal pool teems with life. The Vernal Pool Trail is without a doubt the most visited section of the Santa Rosa Plateau—and with good reason. Not only is it spectacularly beautiful, but it also contains the only example of a basalt-based vernal pool in Southern California. The plateau ridge provides wide-open vistas of the local mountains. The pool itself, when completely full, is stunning surface of the flat plain. These tiny pools of water evntually merged, forming large indentations that would fill up with seasonal rains and then disappear with the dry season— hence the term vernal, from the Latin for “spring.”
Lake Elsinore, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.8
Hike along an old maintenance road to the summit of Box Springs Mountain, which overlooks the Inland Empire and the big “M” above Moreno Valley. Views extend across Southern California, and on clear days the panoramic view is sublime. Descend along a breathtaking trail that wraps around the mountainside. The Box Springs Mountains dominate the northern skyline above the cities of Riverside and Moreno Valley. Some 1,150 acres of rough and untamed territory have been protected in a spacious and beautiful park and preserve that bears the mountains’ name. Miles of dirt roads and trails dot the landscape, although the park itself is often overlooked and underutilized. Equestrians, mountain bikers, families, and even dogs are all welcome. Best of all, there is no entrance or day-use fee.
Riverside, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4
Hike to the top of the lovely Desert Divide section of the lower San Jacinto Mountains to the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail. Views in all directions make this one of the most scenic places in all Southern California. Since the mountainside is south and west facing, the best time to get started is before the sun is high in the sky. The route is exposed to the sun, and temperatures quickly can reach scorching in the summertime. However, winter excursions and early jaunts are incredibly rewarding. In winter the westward views extend to the Pacific and the clear azure skies adorn the heavens. Atop the crest, a solitary oak tree provides shade at the junction.
Mountain Center, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 5
This point-to-point shuttle hike travels downhill through a lovely wooded canyon that provides shade and solitude. The trail passes a seasonal waterfall and stream, and the views are magnificent. The easy downhill gradient makes this longer hike a great half-day outing. The Chiquito Trail is a wonderful way to take a longer hike with the difficulty rating still set in the easy category. The way to do it is by traveling downhill almost all the way. The trail starts high up in the Santa Ana Mountains and descends through a shady wooded canyon for most of the route. High mountain vistas appear all along the hike and the scenery is superb, especially if you take the hike after the rains, when the land is colorful and in full bloom.
Lake Elsinore, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 8
The hike climbs a lovely canyon that hosts an intermittent arroyo and a seasonal waterfall. The area was an important battleground for preserving Southern California’s wildlife and acts as a crucial corridor for many species. Beginning on the Santa Ana River Trail, the hike travels alongside the cement-reinforced banks of the Santa Ana River. On the north side is the Green River Golf Course. The path follows this route for 1.0 mile before it turns left under the overpasses and enters the wilds of Coal Canyon. This immediate area was slated for development, housing tracts, and a freeway exit until it was discovered that the area provided a crucial gateway for wildlife in both the Chino/Puente Hills region and the Santa Ana Mountains.
Corona, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.6
Climb a ridge to gain expansive views of the highest mountains in Southern California. The Dripping Springs Trail is the main gateway into the Agua Tibia Wilderness, a wild and open landscape situated at the northern end of the Palomar Mountains. Much of the landscape is covered in chaparral that hasn’t burned in more than a century. This hike samples some of that wilderness by hiking to a prominent ridgeline high above the surrounding countryside.
Temecula, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2
Hike to a lovely viewpoint in the San Jacinto Mountains overlooking the less than subtly named Suicide Rock.
Temecula, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.6
This short interpretive hike allows visitors to learn about the region’s flora. The hike provides viewpoints and is a great trail for beginners, families, and those with only a little time to spend in the forest. The hike begins at the recently rebuilt El Cariso Visitor Center. There are some wonderful exhibits inside, and anyone taking this hike should first pay a visit to the center. Knowledgeable staff can provide answers to almost any question. Grab a copy of the brochure, which allows hikers to take a self-guided walk along the nature trail. The trail itself is a good way to get some quick exercise and learn about the native chaparral that is common in the region.Sky-high views and solitude are the biggest rewards on this wonderful introductory trip into the San Mateo Wilderness. The trail is a jumping-off point for longer hike. This trail ascends from the same starting point as the heavily used San Juan Loop Trail. However, the entrance is located on the east side of the highway. As a consequence, it is often overlooked, giving it a great edge in serenity and solitude over other trails in the region. The route climbs and scrambles alongside lovely Bear Canyon, twisting across sage and coastal scrub–covered hillsides for a little over 0.5 mile. Here the trail intersects the even less-frequented Morgan Trail beneath a beautiful oak-covered arbor.
Lake Elsinore, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.2
Hike through a peaceful forest, crossing streams on an easy trail suited for families. This is a good hike for those interested in botany—many species of trees, shrubs, and wildflowers can be observed along the trail. The Ernie Maxwell Scenic Trail, named for the late Idyllwild conservationist, is often proclaimed to be the best and easiest introduction to hiking in the Idyllwild region. This is certainly true—the trail’s gentle elevation gain is spread out over 2.5 miles, making the uphill walk barely noticeable. Nestled under a lovely forest canopy of pine, cedar, and oak, the setting is sublime and shady. Several small creeks cross the trail and sustain the region’s flora and fauna.
Idyllwild, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 5
Visit rare Engelmann oaks in their natural setting on the Santa Rosa Plateau as you enjoy this creekside walk and the lovely hillsides. Engelmann oaks are endemic to Southern California and the northernmost reaches of Baja California. The ideal habitat for the trees is atop flat mesas, which unfortunately has conflicted with model locations for human habitation and tract homes. The trees have lost the battle with the ever-increasing population in the region, and sadly this grove remains as one of the only protected populations in existence. It is estimated that up to 70 percent of the oaks remaining in San Diego County were destroyed in the Cedar Fire of 2004, and housing along the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains has virtually wiped out the oaks in their northernmost range.
Temecula, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4
Hike a short distance to an isolated and rarely visited desert peak that offers great views on the way up and down. Springtime flowers are spectacular. There is a summit register on top where hikers can sign their names and philosophize or wax poetic. Popcorn flower and phacelia are common blooming species on the mountaintop during greener times. The summit itself is somewhat of a misnomer. The top is quite broad, flat, and full of shrubs. There are views, however. Sunrises and sunsets can be absolutely magical high above the desert, but the vistas are actually better along the way up and down.
Anza, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.9
This family-, bike-, and dog-friendly trail goes up through a beautiful wilderness park in the heart of the city of Riverside. The hike offers the choice of a longer, steadier climb or a shorter but steeper trip. The entire region can be surveyed from the top, which is adorned with a lovely castlelike tower and flag. The Mount Rubidoux Trail is a fantastic getaway right within the Riverside city limits. The trail itself is an old road that has been locked and gated and made accessible only to pedestrians and bicyclists. The road contours around the prominent hillside and wraps the summit in a large loop. Hikers can enjoy a quick and steep 1.25-mile outing to the summit or follow the more gradual 2.25-mile ascent to the top.
Riverside, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.5
Hike up a lovely chaparral-covered mountainside to beautiful pine forests and an improved spring. Views of the surrounding countryside are spectacular. The trail is wide open and not shaded from the sun until near the very highest reaches of the route. This is a perfect early-morning hike in summer or a great winter trek, but hot afternoons should be avoided. Gaining more than 1,500 feet of elevation from Garner Valley, this is one of the tougher hikes in this guide, but the gradient is gentle and steady.
Mountain Center, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 6
This trail combines great views of the San Jacinto Mountains from a lovely promontory with a wonderful descent into a lush canyon, complete with wildlife and fishing opportunities. Here the beauty of the San Jacinto’s South Fork is more than evident; it is all encompassing. The area is slated for possible wilderness designation, and the big-cone Douglas fir trees complement the cottonwoods and willows that line the riverbanks. The scene appears more East Coast than Southern California desert. Many plant and animal species claim the streambanks as their home, including mountain lions and bald eagles.
Idyllwild, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 5
The actual trailhead is not easy to spot from the parking lot, and many people have inadvertently cut little paths to the main trail. Pick one and it will lead to the trail within a minute or so of walking time. Like most of the higher reaches of the San Jacinto Mountains, this trail is covered in lodgepole and Jeffrey pine; the towering trees loom overhead and provide ample shade even on warm summer afternoons. Large boulders dot the landscape, and wildlife is common, especially in the morning or evening.
Idyllwild, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.5
Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts in the Riverside region. A network of trails crisscross and intersect, enabling the creation of multiple routes/ trails of varying lengths. Three park entrances offer easy access to the undeveloped landscape. Located between Riverside and Moreno Valley at the junction of Highway 60 and I-215, Sycamore Canyon is a beautiful, untamed nature reserve. The 1,550-acre park is a prime location for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. More than 12 miles of trails cross the rugged, chaparral-covered landscape, providing a quick getaway from the urban atmosphere of Riverside proper. The park is open from thirty minutes after sunrise until thirty minutes before sunset, but the best time for a stroll is early morning or later in the evening, especially when the day is hot.
Riverside, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.5
Enjoy a meandering stroll through 14,100-acre Chino Hills State Park, where rolling grasslands and groves of oaks and sycamores share history, natural preservation, and solitude. The preserve provides an open-space experience in the middle of urban Southern California. This lovely route travels through the heart of Chino Hills State Park, starting at Rolling M Ranch and making a 4.0-mile loop through rustic and peaceful countryside. The hills begin to turn green in January, just after the seasonal rains. A few short weeks to months later, the wildflowers are in bloom. Groves of oaks and sycamores are found in and alongside the canyons. During spring, the namesake rolling hills are verdant and green.
Corona, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4
This trail in beautiful Lake Perris State Recreation Area climbs a mountain overlooking a sparkling-blue lake. All of Southern California is visible from one of the most prominent vantage points in the area. This fantastic hike leads to small but majestic Terri Peak on the border of Moreno Valley and Perris. The summit is isolated and there are no higher mountains anywhere in the vicinity, making the view from the top one of the best in Southern California.
Riverside, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.6
This is a shady and beautiful walk through a lush canyon where the University of California showcases trees and plants from all over California, the eastern United States, Australia, China, and South Africa. Beautiful, wooded, and green, the botanic gardens at the University of California silhouette forty acres of wild mountainous topography on the eastern borders of the city of Riverside. Lodged beneath Box Springs Mountain, the gardens are a tranquil little slice of paradise crisscrossed by more than 4.0 miles of trail. Two verdant arroyos, Alder and Chancellor’s Canyons, meander through the preserve. The gardens contain more than 3,500 varieties of plant life. While the majority of the flora is native Californian, some species in the garden come from as far away as Africa and Australia.
Riverside, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.5
Follow Adobe Creek through an idyllic glen, and hike through historic ranchlands to the oldest standing structures in Riverside County. The pastoral landscape is rustic and stunning. Starting on the Coyote Trail, a gentle climb heads southward and into the rolling hills of the Santa Rosa Plateau. The route follows old roads and trails used by cattle ranchers dating back to the early 1800s. The region is very well signed, almost too well signed, and there are many overlapping trails that can lead to the same location. In some ways this makes the trail signs a bit confusing. Although there isn’t much chance for getting lost, unplanned exploration is a distinct possibility on the preserve.
Temecula, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.2
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