Sitton Peak (Cleveland National Forest)

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to hike to the top of Sitton Peak with one of my friends Steven. Unfortunately, Ashley could not joint because she was under the weather and we had to cancel our plans to climb Mt. Whitney. Sitton Peak is a great hike in the Santa Ana Mountains and this time we even got rained on from to some tropical moisture going through Southern California. For more pictures 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 Hike: The total Distance for our hike was 9.8 miles with an elevation gain of approximately 2,200 ft. The hike was a little shorter than others that we have done, because we didn't complete 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 each trail marker. The trail was in great shape when we hiked here 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.

Further Thoughts: This was an escpessially fun hike to Sitton Peak in the Cleveland National Forest, because of all the tropical moisture that was in Southern California. On the drive to the trailhead, from Orange County, we could see rain falling from the clouds over portions of the Santa Ana Mountains. That rain left, by the time we began our hike, however, another set of showers moved in during our hike. We had about 10 - 15 minutes of rain at the 4 corners area on the way to Sitton Peak. A video of the rain from the summer monsoonal moisture we saw can be seen by clicking Here.

At the top of Sitton Peak, we had views of Catalina Island, San Clemente Island, the Palos Verdes Peninsula, 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. The hike to the top of Sitton Peak is a must do for any hiker. Additionally, we got an opportunity to see some wildlife while on this hike. We saw two horned lizzards, one of which was very young and quite small. We also saw an alligator lizzard as well.

Note, if you are doing this hike in the summer make sure to bring plenty of water and wear sunscreen. Additionally, the bugs can get pretty bad after a wet rainy season, so throw in the bug spray as well.

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.


September 4, 2011 (This Post)

June 29, 2013

View Sitton Peak in a larger map


  1. We were sorry to hear about having to cancel Whitney. We were looking forward to reading about it. That's one of the frustrations about a permit system that doesn't let you reschedule when something happens.

  2. Jeff,

    Ashley and I agree with you about the inflexibility of the permit system. We are going to put our names in again next year and see if we get another permit.


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