30 December 2015

Another Short Jaunt Through Chino Hills State Park

From the Lilac Trail in the northwest corner of Chino Hills State Park behind Olinda Village in Brea looking across Sonome Canyon.  The water tank at the left was where the main stop was made on the trek.
Yesterday's trek through the heart of Chino Hills State Park was such a great experience that it felt like it was time for an encore.  So, this morning a similar distance was hiked and it took about the same time--in this instance, the walk went through the little-utilized section of the park on the north side of Carbon Canyon above the Olinda Village community in Brea.

A nice little view of part of Sonome Canyon as framed by a couple of native oaks along the La Vida Trail.
Starting at about 11:30, the excursion used the Lilac Trail and headed up a pretty good incline along a wide road, until about a mile up or so.  This blogger has hiked that trail up to some transmission towers at the northwest corner of the state park property, behind the Olinda Alpha Landfill, a few times, but this time a right turn was made onto the La Vida Trail.

This route heads eastward and descends down into Sonome Canyon, which is at to the north behind Olinda Village.  The descent is generally nice and gradual and wends down to the canyon bottom where there are what appear to be two branches of the canyon--one northwest and the other northeast.

The northwest branch of Sonome Canyon from the La Vida Trail.
Creeks or washes come from both drainages and it can only be imagined, given the parched conditions of the last four years, what extensive rainfall, such as that expected in the next few months, will bring to these secluded and pretty areas.

In the northwest branch, the trail crosses where the creek drops down and there is a spot there where  drop of several feet must provide for a nice little waterfall when there is actually a flow there.

The La Vida Trail is at the left as it descends down into Sonome Canyon with its main branch dead ahead.
Over in the northeast or main canyon, just before the trail turns to head up the east slope, a little side path led about fifteen feet off the trail to the dry creek, but with shade from trees, this could be a great little spot to rest and enjoy the quiet, solitude, and, if available, the water flow in the creek.

Perhaps a visit in the spring is in order to see what these locales are like after the rains we expect to have--provided that there aren't trail washouts, that is!

Having ascended the eastern slope of Sonome Canyon, this is looking back at the main branch.
The climb up the eastern slope of Sonome Canyon was a decent one and comes out to the paved road that leads to the dual water tanks and the cell tower that serve the Olinda Village area.

A little walk around the tanks and tower and a short descent to the southeast provided a very nice spot to rest in the shade of an oak tree and enjoy the panoramic views and the general quiet (although traffic from Carbon Canyon Road to the south could be heard.)

From the water tanks and cell tower, this image looks over where the Madrona project entrance was slated to be next to the former Manely Friends stable along Carbon Canyon Road.  Two ridgelines back is the main portion of Chino Hills State Park.
The descent back towards the village included a side trail that skirted the winding paved road.  Shortly after rejoining the road, though, there was a broad flat bench with a narrow trail leading out towards a sort of promontory.

A road drops down from this point along the shadowed area at the right of center to the historic La Vida Mineral Springs property.  Carbon Canyon is at the center and the north ridge of the main section of the state park in the distance.
From that area there were excellent views of Olinda Village to the west, but especially striking ones of Carbon Canyon to the east, especially the narrowing of the steep canyon walls on the Brea side and then the fanning out of the back of the canyon over on the Chino Hills side.

This was a nice way to finish out a short, but rewarding, hike through a seldom-visited area.  After heading through the well-manicured village neighborhood, the walk concluded with another great experience and a reminder of why living in Carbon Canyon has so many benefits.

From a flat bench or promontory above Olinda Village was this excellent view of Carbon Canyon as the narrow defiles in the Brea portion open to the fanned-out back of the canyon in Chino Hills.
Seeing the graded top of the Canyon Hills housing tract and looking at what could have been the massive Madrona project and the pending Hidden Oaks development is another kind of reminder, though.  As flatter lands below are taken by development, the fight for hillsides and hilltops will only intensify, despite the traffic issues, fire risks, water supply questions, habitat loss and other issues.

Those of us who walk these hills need to be more appreciative of what we have and what can be lost if our local governments approve more housing in the canyon.

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