Sitton Peak (Cleveland National Forest)

Myself, Ashley and her friend Krystal had a chance to hike Sitton Peak a couple of weeks ago. Sitton Peak is one of our favorite local hikes and it always has a few surprises every time we go. Sitton Peak is a fun day hike in Southern California's Cleveland National Forest. For more pictures 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 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: This 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 to Sitton Peak has always been in good shape every time Ashley and I have done this hike. We have always seen some type of wildlife on this hike and there is always plenty of evidence on the trail of the wildlife that inhabits the San Mateo Canyon Wilderness.

We had the opportunity to see a rattlesnake and tarantula while on this hike to Sitton Peak. While on this hike we also got to report a wildfire that we later found out was started at a local girl scout camp by someone mowing the grass. The wildfire grew quickly and Ashley, Krystal, and I called 911 while on the trail to report the fire to emergency services. We were the first callers to report the wildfire and the forest service/fire department had airplanes in the air to combat the wildfire in the Cleveland National Forest within 10 minutes.

It was neat to watch the airplanes combat the wildfire which was probably about 3 miles away from our location. It just goes to show when hiking in any wilderness setting you need to always be prepared for anything.

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.


December 22, 2008

December 28, 2009

August 18, 2010 (This Post)

September 4, 2011

June 29, 2013

View Sitton Peak in a larger map


  1. Brian and Ashley-
    I recently found your blog in my “hiking Los Angeles area” google search and I wanted to say – awesome work. As a fairly recent resident of Los Angeles (3 years) I often find myself kicking (myself) for failing to venture out—saving my outdoor experiences for long summer backpacking trips or short hikes back in my hometown-San Francisco. Your blog is clear and well organized with great pictures showing the views on your adventures without taking up huge chunks of the page. Your categories (Directions, Description, Further Thoughts) make your blog easy to navigate and hard to resist exploring the site myself- so thanks for the push! I especially like the maps detailed with the hikers/picnic area/bathrooms.
    Not only are your links plentiful and helpful, but I also appreciate how your posts are not confined to hikes you have taken. As you include information about fee free days, special events, and contests involving wilderness and national parks.
    Further, I a lit lover (especially travel books) I enjoy the “good books” section as well as your links to hiking information (i.e. snakes and survival necessities) and the list of other helpful websites and blogs. You inclusion of science/wildlife is great too-I wish I had time to do all of these hikes!
    I really miss getting outdoors – life can get pretty demanding as a college student (especially as that social-I mean academic- calendar fills up) and motivating roommates to get outdoors is nearly impossible (somehow Fraternity Row tends to take precedent) but I think I have finally convinced my friends to get outdoors so I will definitely be frequenting your helpful blog.

  2. Hi Brian & Ashley,
    This is my very next hike, can't wait to try it, do I need any special climbing equipment or is your normal day hike gear sufficient? Are the trails easy to navigate on foot? I'm taking my 67 year old dad & want to make sure there are no rock walls to climb :) Thanks for your great blog!
    Sue Faunt

  3. Sue,

    There is no rock climbing and you won't need any special gear to do this hike. Your normal day pack should be fine with a couple of hiking poles. The last probably 1/4 mile of this hike is a good climb and a little steep. Nothing technical, just a good climb. The hiking poles help a lot with this section. The trails are well marked with trail posts. Have fun on the hike, it is Ashley and I's favorite local hike.


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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.