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 Hike: The 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 than usual 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 about this hike is that the trails 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 hike to Sitton Peak is popular hiking trail 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.
Further Thoughts: The hike to Sitton Peak is a great hike in the Cleveland National Forest and is a must do for any hiker in Orange County or Southern California for that matter. The trail has always been in good shape every time Ashley and I have hiked here. Ashley and I have always seen some type of wildlife while on the hike to Sitton Peak and there is always plenty of evidence along the trail of the wildlife that inhabits the San Mateo Canyon Wilderness.
While on this hike to Sitton Peak in the Cleveland National Forest we saw a hawk, a bunch of birds, and the skeletal remains of some animal. Ashley and I believe the skeletal remains could have been from a small deer or some other type of similar sized animal. Unfortunately, Ashley and I were unable to determine what type of animal it was from the few bones that were left.
The day before our hike to Sitton Peak, a low pressure system moved through Southern California, which meant the views on this hike were amazing. We could easily see 60 miles in all directions. We had great views of Catalina Island, the Palos Verdes Peninsula, the Santa Monica Mountains, Saddleback Mountain, San Gorgornio and San Jacinto. We could even see the Palomar Observatory in the Palomar District of the Cleveland National Forrest and enjoyed sweeping views of the Trabuco District of the Cleveland National Forest.
Rating: Elevation Gain: 2,200 ft. (Moderate), Distance: 10.3 Miles Roundtrip 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
View Sitton Peak in a larger map