One of the best views of Orange County can be seen on a hiking trail that starts in an ordinary neighborhood. Located at the end of Rimcrest Drive in Yorba Linda (just north of Yorba Linda High School), the Rimcrest Trail Head splits three ways. The Telegraph Canyon Trail is a narrow hike down into a canyon. The Diemer Trail, a wider pathway, rolls across a couple of hills before hitting Glider Point, which is close to an equestrian parking area. Lastly, the South Ridge Trail, which is at a higher elevation, provides spectacular panoramic views of Orange County, eventually leading to San Juan Hill where there is a marker at the boundary of Orange and Riverside counties. All three pathways are well-maintained and easy to follow, providing views of one of the largest undeveloped areas in North Orange County.
Parking and walking uphill on Rimcrest Drive, I saw signage informing visitors that there’s no parking in the neighborhood from 7pm to 8am. Upon entering the dirt trailhead and turning a corner, I found myself staring at a gigantic faded yellow SoCal Gas pipeline protruding through the hillside. Bold black text on the pipe itself read, “High Pressure Gas.” Metal posts warning about this specific pipeline are spaced throughout the trails; each post is painted a bright yellow so nobody can miss it. There’s a phone number listed on each, in case of an emergency such as a gas leak. While the surrounding hills were relatively green from the rain we received last month, a lot of the brush next to the pipe was dry and brown. The area around the pipe was closed off from the trail, surrounded by a barbed wire fence attached to some rusty metal posts in the ground.
Past the gas pipeline, a brown sign lets visitors know that the trails are closed to motorized vehicles. I also discovered that the three pathways were State park property. There was a California State Parks sign posted at the entryway, although the sign didn’t specify which State park I was entering. I later found, after doing research on the web, that this was a discrete way into the southern-most tip of Chino Hills State Park. The same yellow sign stated that all wildlife and plants within the property are protected.
A centrally located wooden post with a large brown sign marked mileage for each trail. It also let visitors know that the park is open from sunrise to sunset, and that no dogs or e-bikes are allowed on the trails, although one man decided to bring his dog anyway. The dog nearly jumped on a hiker walking by because the owner didn’t have a leash.
I decided to start with the canyon trail. It was a dirt path that first meandered through patches of high dry brush before turning a corner and narrowing as it made its way down into Telegraph Canyon. Walking through the brush, I saw hills in the distance that were still green from the rains. On the hillsides surrounding the canyon trail, I observed green patches with yellow wildflowers that were just beginning to bloom; vegetation is definitely coming back this spring.
The 0.4-mile stretch of the Telegraph Canyon Trail is one of the few paths that actually does provide shade. At the beginning, it is narrow but relatively flat. Further on, there is a sheer drop-off to a scenic canyon below. The hills began to look even greener as I made my way into the canyon. As the trail sloped downward, it became gradually steeper. It’s important to look where you’re walking when you’re hiking, otherwise you may end up tripping, especially if you’re clumsy. I also noticed a few snake holes along the dirt pathway.
Looking up at the sky, I saw a hawk flying overhead. As I came closer to the bottom, I heard a large animal crashing through the trees and brush in the canyon below (one reason it’s important to bring a walking stick or a cane with you when you decide to hike in a remote wilderness area). I turned back around because I didn’t want to find out what made the noise.
Back at the main trailhead, I followed the arrow pointing to San Juan Hill. This pathway wound around the nearby hillside. Moving uphill, I looked down at the dirt trail extending out from the neighborhood and saw where I had entered the park. Further along, I was able to look out over north and central Orange County, a sweeping view that went all the way out to the modern buildings of the Anaheim train station. Continuing on, I encountered a few bicyclists as I went around a sharp corner that overlooked Yorba Linda and all the surrounding communities. Reaching the top of the first major incline, I glanced down into a smaller canyon. The trees down in the canyon were just beginning to bloom. If I had proceeded further, I could have hiked another 3 miles and climbed the peak of San Juan Hill. However, since I had chosen to walk on a warmer day, I stopped and went back the way I came. I would recommend planning ahead and bringing enough water with you if you do decide to take this hike.
Back in 2020, the Blue Ridge Fire, which took 11 days to contain, burned 8,770 acres or roughly 60% of the land in Chino Hills State Park, according to an article by the Voice of OC. Many of the hills are still bare and there is no shade for many miles in the southern end of the State park. With warm, dry, and windy conditions continuing, these types of wildfires seem to be happening more and more frequently. However, for the time being, the hills have recovered and are in full bloom for the start of spring.
To see my video about these trails, visit my YouTube channel.