Thursday, December 27, 2012

Chino Hills State Park (Telegraph Canyon)

A hike in Telegraph Canyon in Chino Hills State Park is spectacular anytime of the year. The Chino Hills State Park, with 14,100 acres of rolling grassy hills and valleys dotted with stands of oaks and sycamores, is a great place to hike in one of Southern California's premier natural open-space areas. The Chino Hills State Park has more than 60 miles of hiking trails as well as abundant wildlife. This hike through telegraph canyon and the south rim of the Chino Hills State Park, offer spectacular scenery and a great overview of this beautiful state park. For more pictures of our hike make sure to check out our Facebook Page.

Directions to Trailhead: To get to the trailhead to hike in Telegraph Canyon in Chino Hills State Park, take the Lambert Road exit from the 57 freeway. Once you exit the 57 freeway head east towards the Chino Hills. The entrance to the Chino Hills State Park is approximately 3 miles from when you exit the freeway. You will also notice Lambert Road will change names to Carbon Canyon Road. You are going to make a right into the Chino Hills State Park parking lot where the discovery center is located. The hours of operation for the Chino Hills State Park are as follows: October - March, 8am-5pm Friday to Monday and April - September, 8am-7pm Friday to Monday. The Chino Hills State Park is presently closed every Tuesday-Thursday due to state budget cuts. For more information the park office telephone number is (951) 780-6222. Presently parking at the discovery center parking lot is $5. Additional parking is also available at Carbon Canyon Regional Park.

Description of Hike: The Telegraph Canyon Hiking Trail begins at the end of the parking area for the Discovery Center at the Chino Hills State Park. The trail is well maintained and is one of the most popular hiking trails in Chino Hills State Park. You will likely see other hikers and mountain bikers using the trail. The trail meanders through telegraph canyon and offers amazing views of the canyon and the rolling hills of Chino Hills State Park. A few minutes after leaving the parking area civilization begins to fade away and you lose sight of the water plant near the start of the trail and are rewarded with the unspoiled hillsides which stretch for miles. You will follow Telegraph Canyon Trail for just a little over 3.5 miles. At that point make a right onto the Little Canyon Trail and head up to the South Ridge Trail which offers you amazing views of Southern California and the rolling hills of the Chino Hills State Park. Make a right on the South Ridge Trail and follow until you hit the Easy Street Trail. Make a right on the Easy Street Trail and head back down into Telegraph Canyon. Make a left and return to the parking area via the Telegraph Canyon Trail. This is an out and back hike with a loop on a well maintained dirt trail that offers you spectacular views. The hike is 8.2 miles roundtrip with approximately 700 feet of elevation gain.

Summer through early fall is normally very warm in Chino Hills State Park, but normally with an early start you can sometimes beat the heat. All other seasons are great for hiking here. The park administration may temporarily close the trails in the state park if they get too muddy after a heavy winter or spring rain. Note, telegraph canyon is susceptible to rain related closures. For a map and brochure of the hiking trails in Chino Hills State Park click Here.

Further Thoughts: Ashley and I truly enjoyed this hike in the Chino Hills State Park. We were pleasantly surprised to see the large amount of wildlife that calls the Chino Hills State Park home. We saw at least 10 different hawks, turkey vultures, a coyote, a bobcat, and wild cows in the park. The hike in Telegraph Canyon in the Chino Hill State Park gives you a feeling of being miles from civilization. The hike along the South Ridge Trail offers you amazing views of Southern California. This is a great hiking location in a sea of urbanization. This is a great hiking location for the both the beginning and avid hiker.

The Chino Hills State Park is part of a larger bio-link known as the Puente-Chino Hills wildlife corridor. For the plants and animals in the Chino Hills State Park, this area is an important link to other natural open space areas. The Water Canyon Natural Preserve and Coal Canyon Preserve areas of the park make up a biological corridor that allows wide-ranging species of native wildlife like bobcats, mountain lions, deer, coyotes, and a variety of other rare species to avoid becoming trapped in isolated patches of open space habitat. Coal Canyon is one of the greatest conservation stories in all of Southern California.

Coal Canyon used to be all asphalt as it was an exit from the 91 freeway. More than a thousand residential homes along with a commercial center with a gas station and restaurants were slated for development at the Coal Canyon exit. But those plans were abolished when scientists realized that a mountain lion they had been tracking was using the underpass to cross under the 91 freeway and move between suitable parts of his habitat in the Santa Ana Mountains (Cleveland National Forest) and the Chino Hills State Park. Coal Canyon remains the only place wildlife can move between the Santa Ana Mountains and the Puente-Chino Hills wildlife corridor. When land on both sides of the freeway was added to Chino Hills State Park in 2000-2001, this became the first time in California history that land was saved because of its connectivity value. The underpass is now a wildlife corridor for many animals and has been restored to its natural state. For more information on preserving bio-links in the Puente-Chino Hills make sure to check out Hills for Everyone.

The Chino Hills State Park ranges from 430 feet in elevation all the way to 1,781 feet in elevation. The park straddles the north end of the Santa Ana Mountains and the southeast portion of the Peunte-Chino Hills. More than 200 species of birds and mammals, numerous reptiles and amphibians, and invertebrates live in the park. Sadly, this area still shows evidence of the 2008 Triangle Complex fire that ravaged the Chino Hills State Park. However, the park appears to be recovering nicely. If you do this hike during a warm summer day make sure to bring plenty of water and wear sunscreen as there is limited shade along portions of the trail. If you are looking for a weather forecast for the Chino Hills State Park click Here. The park also has camping locations, for reservations of a camping site in the Chino Hills State Park click Here. If you are interested in giving back to the Chino Hills State Park also has the Chino Hills State Park Interpretive Association which supports the park.

Bottom-line is this is a fun natural open space area in Southern California with miles of great hiking trails to explore.

Rating: Elevation Gain: 700 ft. (Moderate), Distance: 8.2 Miles Roundtrip (Moderate).

Time to Complete Hike: 4 - 5 hours


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