The Sycamore Canyon Loop is a nifty little conditioning hike located in the shadows of the Claremont Loop that offers a good workout and nice views of the Claremont area . This hike follows the steep Sycamore Canyon Trail up from the Thompson Creek Trail at Higginbotham Park in Claremont, hooks a right down the East Pomello Drive fire road and winds all the way down past the Girl Scout structure back to the Thompson Creek Trail where you make a right and return to Higginbotham Park.
Sycamore Canyon Loop Hike Stats
Mileage: 2.9 miles
Elevation Gain: 692 feet
Duration: 1.25 – 1.50 hours
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Sycamore Canyon Hiking Trail
The Sycamore Canyon Trail is a very short .8 mile trail with 578 feet elevation gain. Unlike most of the trails in the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park, this portion of trail isn’t a fire road. It’s steep but there are several railroad tie steps and switchbacks along the way to help you up the hill. Steps or not this section of the hike is the toughest. It will get your heart pumping and probably make you huff and puff a little. If you can make it to the top, it’s all downhill from there.
East Pomello Dr Fire Trail
The East Pomello Drive fire trail is a “T” Intersection located at the top of the Sycamore Canyon Trail, making it a logical place to rest after climbing up. It’s It’s pretty much just a fire road that connects Thompson Creek with Johnson’s Pasture, but it does offer nice views of Ontario and Cucamonga Peaks along the way. You will be taking the “T” to the right (east) and follow it down to the Thompson Creek Trail past a locked vehicle gate.
Note: The Pomello Dr Trail intersects with a couple of dead end false trails along the way, the first two on the left about 580 feet from the junction with the Sycamore Canyon Trail and the other to the right about 775 feet from the junction. Just stay on the obvious continuation of the Pomello Dr Trail and you’ll be fine.
Thompson Creek Trail
Once down the East Pomello Drive fire trail, you make a right on the Thompson Creek Bike Path and follow it westward for a nice leisurely stroll back to the starting point at Higginbotham Park. The Thompson Creek Trail is a paved bike path that runs from Mills Avenue to Towne Avenue.
DIRECTIONS: From the east, take the 210 West and exit Baseline Road. Go west (right) and head down Baseline to Indian Hill Blvd. Go north (right) on Indian Hill and turn left on Mt. Carmel - (the last street you reach before the parking lot on north Indian Hill and Mills). Follow the street until you see Higgenbotham Park on the right. Park on the street and walk across the park to the picnic table near the restroom. If you decide to park at Indian Hill and Mills parking lot, you will turn left at the paved walkway and walk toward the restrooms, about .2 miles.
From the west, take the 210 East and exit Baseline Road. Go west (left) and head down Baseline to Indian Hill and go north. (right) The directions are now the same as from the east.
The hike to the forested 7952-foot Grays Peak is a fairly pleasant moderate level hike on a well graded trail through stands of Jeffrey pine, black oak, and white fir, mostly on a single track trail and partly on a smooth fire road. The peak looms over the western end of Big Bear Lake and is named Gray’s Peak was named after Alex Gray, a local businessman who founded nearby Gray’s Landing in 1918.
This is a very popular hike with interesting rock formations along the way and lots of scenic views. You will likely see other hikers and a few mountain bikers on the trail. It’s also a very dry and dusty hike so come prepared on hot days and consider starting your hike early.
Grays Peak Hike Stats
Distance: 7 miles (out-and-back)
Hiking Time: 3 – 4 hours
Elevation Gain: 1200’
Trail Use: Equestrians, cyclists, dogs
Best Times: May–October
Agency: San Bernardino National Forest (Big Bear Discovery Center)
Parking: There is plenty of parking spaces on paved lots at the trailhead and across the street at the Grout Bay Picnic Area across the street. Please note however, that a National Forest Service Adventure Pass is required to park here.
Restrooms: There are two flush toilets and running water at both the trailhead and the Grout Bay Picnic Area across the street. Bring your own soap.
Restrictions: The trailhead is in winter habitat for bald eagles and is closed from November 1 to April 1.
Grays Peak Hike Description
Note: Although the trail is generally well maintained and fairly obvious, there are portions that are not particularly easy to follow due to the circuitous, twisting and turning route. Some of the trail junctions are marked, but some aren’t. So you have to pay attention.
From the trailhead, follow the trail north along the highway and then up several switchbacks in a northwesterly direction. The trail jogs back and forth until you reach a low ridge about 0.6 mile from the trailhead. Even though the trail actually turns sharply to the left, it’s not obvious which way to turn at this point as the trail seems to go in both directions. Just follow the trail to the left for about 0.1 mile until you reach Forest Road 2N04X where you turn right.
In 0.3 mile, you turn right again at the T-junction with Forest Road 2N70. Then in about 0.1 mile, you’ll see the signed trail on the left (south) for the Grays Peak Trail. You will follow this trail for the rest of the way up the hill, climbing steadily through the forest for 2 miles until you reach a point about 100 feet below the summit.
From this point, its just a matter of scrambling up the side of the peak to the top. Because the peak is well covered with trees that partially block your views, you don’t quite get the feeling that you just bagged a peak. But in fact, you have. You do however, get a nice side view of Mt Baldy in the distance to the west. There are numerous boulders, rocks and fallen logs at or near the top that you can take a well deserved break on before you head back down.
The Grays Peak parking lot is located near Big Bear Lake. From the 210 freeway, take route 330 north to 38 east. At Big Bear Dam,
continue on 38 (slight left) along the north side of the lake. The signed trail head parking lot is on the left, about a half mile before the town of Fawnskin. A National Forest Service Adventure Pass is required to park here.
The GPS coordinates for the trailhead are: 34.263357, -116.948039.
Olmsted Point is a turnout viewing area located in Yosemite National Park, off of the Tioga Road which offers a view into Tenaya Canyon and the northern side of Half Dome. We stopped there for a brief visit after our impromptu and extended hike of May Lake, also in Yosemite.
It’s a nice place to check out the views and stretch your legs. There is a huge sloping rock formation that you can walk on and you can see Half Dome clearly in the distance. even though it’s not that close. You can always try to put Half Dome in the palm of your hands and take a picture like Kim was able to do thanks to expert guidance from me on where to place her hand.
There’s also a few hiking trails that start at Olmsted Point. The information sign at the trailhead warns hikers of dangerous hiking trails beyond but does recommend at short .2 mile walk to an overlook with spectacular views. Unfortunately, we were so stuck on getting pictures with Half Dome that we forgot to check out the overlook.
By the way, the site was named after father and son duo Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903), and his son Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. Both were landscape architects and the senior Olmsted was the designer of the world famous Central Park in New York City. Olmsted senior was also chairman of the first commission to manage Yosemite Valley and his son was a member of the Yosemite Advisory Board.
It had been quite a while since I’d hiked the Claremont Hills Wilderness Trail, also known as the Claremont Loop. So I scheduled a hike with the Lazy Ass Hiking and On The Move Inland Empire hiking groups for Wednesday, August 27, 2014, rounded up fellow hikers Kim, Aska and Nora, and off we were.
We arrived about 15 minutes before the official 5:30 pm start time. It was a hot day, probably around 90 degrees and there was a barricade posted at the entrance gate warning of mountain lion activity.
A few members of the hiking groups were already there and before long the whole group minus a few who were running late had assembled just past the entrance gate for a group photo. Then I started my hiking tracker and headed up the Cobal Canyon Mtwy trail.
There’s a fork in the trail about 600 feet in, where the Cobal Canyon trail intersects with the Burbank Mtwn trail. Both trails connect with the Johnson’s Pasture Rd thereby creating the loop. The Cobal Canyon trail is on the right and the Burbank trail is on the left. You can take either one, but the Cobal Canyon trail is steeper. And that’s the route we took.
As we passed through the tee lined shaded area, I was surprised to see how withered and thinned out the once lush tree canopy had become. This area used to be quite dark even during the middle of the day and now it seemed like partial shade at best.
I was hindered a bit on the hike by an ill-timed cold and a banged up knee, so most of the group hiked up ahead. Once out of the shady areas, the blazing sun bore down on us once again. I was sweating like a pig and fortunately had remembered to bring my bandana. Soon enough, it was just me, Kim and one of the group hikers named Mike hiking together well behind the others. They were waiting for us, however, at the ramada at the top of the Claremont Loop.
Once reunited with the group, I took a short break and just I was getting ready to take a another group photo next to the Claremont Loop Ramada, two hiker gals named Emily and Louise charged forward and joined the group. They had arrived late and had hurried to catch up, saying they didn’t want to get kicked out of the group on their first hike. I gave them kudos for their efforts.
We took a group photo and then set off down Johnson’s Pasture Rd toward the Burbank Mtwy. By now, the sun was creeping below the hills and it had cooled down considerably, thanks in part to a nice breeze.
On the way to the Burbank Mtwy trail, Kim and Nora followed me and another hiker named Andreas up Extra Credit Hill for a short but very steep stairmaster type of climb.
Extra Credit Hill is a slight shortcut up the face of one of hills that you would otherwise have to walk around. It actually doesn’t shave off much distance, but it’s a nice workout for the legs. The top of the hill dumps off onto Johnson’s Pasture Rd and after the arduous climb up, we found ourselves right behind the group who had taken the fire road all the way around. So much for the short cut.
Eventually, the group pulled away once again. These hikers didn’t mess around. They were way up ahead when I noticed a small group had stopped in the middle of the trail. Remembering the mountain lion warnings, I was wondering if they had seen one near the trail. As it turned out, they had stopped to take pictures with a tarantula that was occupying a spot mid trail.
After taking an obligatory pic of the hairy little creature, we headed back down the rest of the way and took one final picture near the parking lot as I clicked off my hiking tracker. According to the tracker, we hiked 5.09 miles in 2.02 hours with a 915 feet elevation gain. Not a bad little conditioning walk.
For a very detailed description of this hike including stats, park hours and just about everything you want to know about the Claremont Loop, be sure to check out my full length hike description:
Just added a new hike description page covering the details of the Claremont Hills Wilderness Trail, aka the Claremont Loop. Since I’ve done this trail many times, you will note that the hike description is very detailed including the hours of operation, waypoints, etc. I’ve also added a Claremont Hills Wilderness Trail Hike Report covering my experiences on my last hike there.
The Claremont Hills Wilderness Trail, also known as the Claremont Loop Hiking Trail or the Cobal Canyon Hike, is located in the foothills of the Angeles National Forest within the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park in Claremont, California. The hike is a fairly straightforward five mile loop on a wide fire road with about 900 feet of elevation gain that is used primarily for exercise and conditioning since it doesn’t really offer any fantastic views or any peak to bag . Because there is a little up and down action on the trail, the overall ascent may be closer to 950 feet.
Claremont Hills Wilderness Trail Stats
Length: 5.0 miles
Elevation Gain: 900 feet
Duration: 2.5 hours
Trail Type: Fire Road
Restrooms: A couple porta-potties near the trailhead
Parking: Paved parking lot with self-serve $3.00 parking toll
Hours: See the table at the bottom of the page
Claremont Loop Trailhead
The effective trailhead for the Claremont Hills Wilderness Trail or Claremont Loop, is the entrance gate located at the north end of the parking lot. The hike starts at the entrance gate on the Cobal Canyon Mtwy Trail which you will follow for about 600 feet until you come to the first fork on the trail.
The trail to the right (northeast) is the continuation of the Cobal Canyon Mtwy aka the Cobal Canyon Trail. The trail to the left (west) is the Burbank Mtwy. Both trails eventually connect with the Johnson’s Pasture Rd which creates the loop. For this hike, you will walk up the steeper Cobal Canyon Trail and walk down on the Burbank Mtwy. If you do the hike in reverse, the incline is less severe.
Cobal Canyon Mtwy
The Cobal Canyon Mtwy continues northerly from the fork towards the only portion of the hike that is shaded. You will start to see trees on the edges of the trail and then you’ll enter a thick canopy of the trees, which provide welcome shade on hot days. Unfortunately, the shade ends at about the one mile mark and you will be fully exposed to the sun for the remainder of the hike.
For the next mile, you continue to climb fairly steeply around a horseshoe curve as you make your way out of Cobal Canyon and up to the junction with the Potato Mountain Trail to the right. Stay to the left and continue your climb up the hill. It’s not quite as steep on this portion of the trail, but still uphill.
Johnson’s Pasture Mtwy
At about the 2.5 mile mark, you will come to another fire road junction on the right (blocked by a yellow colored heffer gate) which is actually the continuation of the Cobal Canyon Mtwy leading to Marshall Canyon. Stay to the left on the Johnson’s Pasture Rd and in about 800 feet, you will come to a shade structure on the left, with benches.
Claremont Loop Shade Structure Ramada
The shade structure, also called the Claremont Loop Gazebo or Ramada is the informal halfway point of the hike and a great place to take a break. Looking in a north easterly direction, you will have unobstructed views of Ontario and Cucamonga Peaks which provides a nice backdrop for a group photo. After a well deserved rest, continue on Johnson’s Pasture Road, first down, then up over a bump always staying to left. About a half mile from the shade structure, the trail forks yet again into a huge junction with the Burbank Mtwy.
The Johnson’s Pasture Road elbows to the left before continuing on into Johnson’s Pasture, however, the Burbank Mtwy veers sharply to the left in hairpin turn fashion.
NOTE: This is where some hikers new to the Claremont Loop get fouled up and end up in Johnson’s Pasture instead of back at the trailhead where they intended. Just be sure to make a hard left at this junction, almost doubling back on the trail and you will be on the Burbank Mtwy where you belong.
From this point you will follow the Burbank Mtwy all the way down to the bottom of the loop where you will make a right and walk the 600 feet back to the parking lot, completing the hike. Give yourself a high five and take a big swig of water because you’ve earned it.
Claremont Hills Wilderness Trail Parking Lot
The Claremont Hills Wilderness Trail is serviced by two separate parking lots. The main parking lot is located next to the entrance gate and trailhead and the other lot is located on the corner of Mills Ave & Mt Baldy Rd about .3 of a mile (1667 feet) from the trailhead. Both lots require a $3.00 toll for parking for non-residents and a permit parking pass for Claremont residents.
Claremont Hills Wilderness Park Hours
Because the entire Claremont Hills Wilderness Park is located within the Claremont City Limits, hikers using the park are subject to the posted park hours and additional rules. The current Claremont Hills Wilderness Park hours are shown below and are subject to change. Please check the City’s website for the most current hours of operation and specific wilderness park rules.
Because the Claremont Loop is just a five mile hike on a fire road in a city wilderness park, don’t expect to find any detailed Tom Harrison type of topo maps covering it. The City’s website shows a small map of the Claremont Loop but the image is quite frankly too small to be of much use. The City also has an Claremont Hills Wilderness Master Plan base map in PDF format showing the Claremont Loop area that you can download using the link below, however, you can actually find a much better overview of the trail by just using Google Earth.
The Skyline East Fork Canyon Trail is a rollicking five mile out and back canyon type trail in the Corona, California hills, just east of the Skyline and Tin Mine Canyon Trails. The trail starts off near the bend of the paved section of the Skyline Drive Trail.
You have to hop over a guardrail on Skyline Drive to access the trail which then follows the edge of a hillside along a wide dirt path and then turns into a single track trail as it enters the Cleveland National Forrest.
Once you enter the forest area, it’s a rollicking 2.5 mile up and down romp into the woods with most of the trail shaded by a thick canopy of trees and foliage. Portions of the trail open up into spacious canyon areas with varying degrees of light. Some parts of the trail are so well shaded that you almost feel like you’re hiking in the evening.
There is no peak to bag or sight to see at the end, the trail just sort of peters out at a clearing. You can take a break here before heading back.
Distance: 4.5 miles
Duration: 2-3 hours
Elevation Gain: 640 feet
From the 91 freeway, exit Lincoln Ave and follow north to Foothill Pkwy. Turn right (west) on Foothill Pkwy and follow to Skyline Drive Trailhead parking just east of Trudy Way. Park alongside the road and walk to the paved trailhead, marked by a sign. GPS Coordinates: 33.841904, -117.598375
With our Bluesapaloosa wrist bands still on just in case we got back early, Kim and I decided once again to take a hike. This time in Yosemite. We didn’t have much time, so we got a map and looked for a short one.
The map showed a nice easy hike called May Lake and said it was only 1.2 miles one way so we figured that would be perfect. We rolled up to what we thought was the trailhead and the sign said 2.7 miles one way. We started off with half a bottle of water and both of us were wearing regular cotton clothes and tennis shoes. After all, this was a short hike, right?
After about a quarter mile, I decided to go back to the car to fetch my backpack which had two full bottles of water and a few supplies. And then we started over again.
Before long, we were both huffing and puffing and realized we were on a real hike. Kim hiked up ahead, glaring at me from time to time. Sort of like the time her, Aska and Nora (fellow Lazy Ass Recon hikers) were giving me the eye on an exploratory hike to Two Trees Box Springs Towers when we got way off trail and ran out of water.
As the terrain got worse, we realized tennis shoes weren’t the greatest choice but we figured the sign had the correct mileage of 2.7 miles to the lake. So we plodded on higher and higher, eventually reached a crest and then started descending fairly rapidly toward a clearing. We both expected to see the lake once we got to the bottom, but encountered a very large meadow instead. Nice to be sure, but still not a lake.
By now, it was very overcast and we were wondering where the heck this lake was. We continued onward past the meadow for several minutes and came upon a cabin that turned out to be some type of snow shelter. It was locked and posted No Trespassing. After taking a couple pictures, we continued onward uphill again and finally reached a clearing where we saw a…parking lot!
Turns out, this was the real trailhead for May Lake. So we still had to continue up the damn hill to get to the fricken lake. Oh well, we were already sweaty, might as well continue. So up we went, dodging ridiculous amounts of bear scat and thinking the lake better be worth it.
Finally, we arrived at the lake. To be honest, it was pretty dang anti-climatic. Maybe due to having seen the pristine aqua blue waters of Big Pine Lakes a couple days prior. But in any case, we drank some water, had a snack and chatted with a group of backpackers who were headed for the John Muir Trail.
Then it started to rain and everyone started to scatter. No problem, I had my emergency poncho in my backpack, right? Wrong, I had forgotten it. Kim wanted to duck under a tree, but I said let’s make a run for it. Fortunately, it stopped raining fairly quickly and we eventually made it back to the car, slipping and sliding on the rocky areas due to our now very slick tennis shoes.
Overall, we had fun and in a very gentle sort of way were reminded of basic hiking protocol. Once back to the car, we guzzled water and then headed out to Olmsted Point for a look at Half Dome. All in all, a nice quick and easy introduction to Yosemite.
This was pretty much a goof-off day. After hiking the Big Pine Lakes area the day before, my friend Kim and I met some other friends at Shcat’s Bakery in Bishop for coffee & pastries before saying goodbye and heading up to Convict Lake.
Once we got to Convict Lake I decided to check out the hiking possibilities and discovered an actual hiking trail called Convict Canyon that went around the lake to the mountains. That’s where we met a hiker named Steve, who was gearing up for some backpacking up the mountain near Lake Dorothy. As it turns out he regularly hiked with our friends Alden & Mika, who had led the Tahqutiz Peak Lookout hike. What a small world.
Though I was tempted to hike the trail for a ways, we decided to just kick it around Convict Lake where we took pictures and wading in the cool lake waters. This is a jewel of a lake located in front of Mt Morrison, about three miles or so west of Hwy 395 near Mammoth Lakes and sits about 7,850 ft above sea level. We enjoyed the views and took a walk on a potion of the boardwalk before heading up to Mammoth for the Bluesapaloosa festival.