Saturday, June 21, 2008

Sitton Peak (Cleveland National Forest)


The following weekend on Saturday June 21st, Ashley and I hiked to the top of Sitton Peak which is located in the Cleveland National Forest. This was our next hike to help us get ready to hike to the top of Saddleback Mountain. To get to Sitton Peak you take two trails, the Bear Canyon Trail and the Sitton Peak Trail. The trailhead starts by the candy store off of Ortega highway. For more pictures of another of our hikes to Sitton Peak make sure to check out our Facebook Page.

Directions to Trailhead: To hike to the top of Sitton Peak Via the Bear Canyon Loop: Park across the street from the Ortega Oaks Candy Store off of Ortega Hwy (Coming from Orange County take the Ortega Highway going East). The trailhead is located right behind the candy store, indicated with a sign for the Bear Canyon Trailhead. You want to take the bear canyon loop to the 4 corners area (about 3.5 miles in where the Verdugo Trail, the Tenja Trail, Bear Ridge Trail and Bear Canyon Trail meet). At that point there is a marker for the trail to Sitton Peak. Once you hit the 4 corners area, you have a little over a mile and a half to go, it is mostly uphill from there. The last climb up sitton peak is a fun one, a nice little scramble of less than a quarter mile. A map of the area can be found below in the Google map. You will need a Forest Adventure Pass to park at the trailhead. One can be purchased at the Ortega Oaks Candy Store across Ortega Highway.


Description of HikeThe total Distance for our Hike to Sitton Peak was 10.3 miles with an elevation gain of approximately 2,200 ft. The hike was a little longer since we completed the full Bear Canyon Loop. The full loop is composed of the Bear Ridge Trail and the Bear Canyon Trail. The hike is shorter if you do not complete the full Bear Canyon Loop and use the Bear Canyon Trail both ways. The best thing is that the trails on the hike to Sitton Peak are well marked and mileage is posted on the trail markers. The trail was in great shape and normally you will see other hikers out on the trail because the climb to Sitton Peak is popular with Orange County Hikers. Sitton Peak is just over 3,200 feet in elevation and the hike is about 10 miles round trip without doing the full loop. Remember to sign in at the San Mateo Canyon Wilderness register at the trailhead. You will need a Forest Adventure Pass to park at the trailhead. They can be purchased at the Ortega Oaks Candy Store across the road.

Further Thoughts: Ashley and I picked a great day to hike since the temperature at the car was 105 degrees when we left. We later found out that at Lake Elsinore they broke the all time record temperature for that day with 108 degrees. Needless to say it was a hot hike, but Ashley and I were prepared as we brought plenty of water and were both up to the challenge.

The trail to Sitton Peak was in excellent condition. It was a steady uphill climb, but there was plenty of shade on the way. The bear canyon loop is absolutely gorgeous. You walk through a creek bed and then come to a valley with lots of Coastal Live Oak trees. It is just an absolutely beautiful trail in the San Mateo Canyon Wilderness in the Cleveland National Forest. There is also wreckage from an airplane crash when you get close to the last uphill push to the summit of Sitton Peak.

The last climb to the top is quite steep and is not easy, but it is well worth it at the top of Sitton Peak. It is definitely a "top of the world" experience. You can see all of Orange County plus we could see Catalina Island. It is amazing that you get to see such a great view on a peak that is only 3,272 feet tall. While we were up on the summit of Sitton Peak we noticed a wildfire had started near Camp Penalton. It was a ways away, but both Ashley and I figured we needed to start heading back to the car. Besides we had spent 45 minutes relaxing at the top of the peak.

It was actually very nice at the peak since there was nice breeze and since it was such a hot day below we had the whole peak to ourselves. We only saw two groups of people out hiking that day. At the end of our hike we rewarded ourselves with a cold drink and snack from the Ortega Oaks Candy Store at Ortega highway. This is an absolute must do hike for any Orange County Hiker!

Rating: Elevation Gain: 2,200 ft. (Moderate), Distance: 10.3 Miles Round Trip with full Bear Canyon loop (Moderate), 9.8 Miles Roundtrip without loop, only going through the valley (Moderate).

Time to Complete Hike: 4.5 - 6 hours.

MORE TRAIL WRITE-UPS ON SITTON PEAK

June 21, 2008 (This Post)



View Sitton Peak in a larger map

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Ashley and I encourage and welcome our readers to submit comments about their experiences on the trails we have posted on our blog or about their own hiking experiences in general.