East Coyote Hills
West Coyote Hills
Burruel Point
Peralta Hills P300
Robbers Peak
Peak 932ft P300

Sat, Mar 11, 2017
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPXs: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8


Day 2 of the volleyball tournament in Southern California found me with a few hours of free time in the morning between dropping the wife off at the site and getting back for my daughter's first match. Having checked the various online sources for summits to visit in the Orange County area, I found that Laura Newman had beaten me to most of these, not surprising since it was closer to her home turf. This included East Coyote Hills, though interestingly not West Coyote Hills. Had she simply missed an opportunity or was there something afoot in the Fullerton Hills that needed closer investigation? Later in the afternoon I headed out for some other easy summits, these to the east in the foothills of the Santa Ana Mtns - all of which Laura has already visited. Curses!

East Coyote Hills

This summit proved to be quite easy, with the summit one of the featured viewspots in the small Panorama Nature Preserve. A wide trail winds though this upscale neighborhood with meticulously manicured grounds, signs describing the flora, views, history and dangers of underestimating a Trump administration. Ok, maybe not that last part. The park was popular even at the early hour just after 7a, with locals walking their dogs and each other. Haze today would mar views, but the weather was delightful for a short stroll of less than a quarter mile to the summit. Plenty of street parking where I parked southwest of the summit, too.

West Coyote Hills

It took about 15min to drive from one site to the next, eventually parking on Chantilly Lane on the southeast side of the summit. This would prove a more formidable challenge and it took only a few minutes to size up why. The land around the summit is (or was) owned by Chevron and the site of oil fields back in the day. There are some old pipes and capped wells to be found, but all the pumps and most of the equipment seems to have been removed. Still, there is an old chainlink fence, still maintained, with three strands of barbed-wire at the top mounted at an angle - this was no easy fence to get over. The Castlewood Trail skirts the southern boundary of the fence which had more than a hundred folks along it during the five minutes I spent walking it, as popular a trail as I've ever seen which is odd since it isn't particularly scenic at all. I was looking for ways to breach the perimeter, first looking at a couple of smallish trees that seem to have compromised the fence some, but not finding them suitable with so many folks about. I then came across a small section where the ground had eroded at the bottom just enough to squeeze a body through. Once this was accomplished, the rest was a piece of cake. I walked old paved roads, once used to service the oil fields, now looking like a post-apocalyptic scene, slowly being covered in sand, dust and gravel washing off the slopes with grass and brush doing their best to return the site to its more natural condition. There are several antenna sites near the summit but the highpoint seems to be a small patch of old pavement just NE of the largest towers. After returning the way I'd come, I headed back to the volleyball site. Later in the afternoon I would have time for more exploration and headed out to burn the last 4hrs of daylight.

Burruel Point

The lamest "summit" on the day. At one time this might have been an interesting point at the western edge of a ridgeline, but it is heavily suburbanized now and the point was bulldozed years ago to build a cul-de-sac surrounded by homes. Drive to the end of East Rocky Point Rd. Yay.

Peralta Hills

The topo map calls these the Peralta Hills but the local name seems to be the Anaheim Hills. The tops of these modest hills are part of an OSP managed by Orange County. My starting point on East Twin Peaks Rd is as close as you can get to the summit, but the trail up from the northeast side is quite overgrown and sees very little traffic. I was wading through grass and thistle waist high before reaching the summit ridge which has a wide, hardpack dirt trail running along its length. The highpoint is found among some rocks just off the main trail/road with good views. I tried to find a better way down, but ran into some rough patches that included some unexpected poison oak, and quite a bit, too, the only place I found it all day.

Robbers Peak/Anaheim Hills Overlook/Peak 1,257ft

All three of these are found within the Santiago Oaks Regional Park. This is a pretty interesting park, quite beautiful decked in springtime green with ample wildflowers. The park has many miles of trails, most of which are open to mountain bikes, popular in many of Orange County's parks. There is a use fee to access the park down low at Windes Dr, but I used shorter approach trailheads in the local neighborhoods without fees. Only Robbers Peak qualifies as a summit on LoJ, the other two being semi-random points someone submitted on PB. Google Maps shows the Santa Ana Mountains Trailhead northwest of Robbers Peak on Serrano Ave, adjacent to an elementary school. I parked across the street but found it odd one has to walk through a corner of the school property to access the trail/road. I felt better that it was a Saturday. The peak is the best looking of the day with a sharp rock outcrop found 1/3mi from the TH. There is an ungated fence just below the summit that says Private Property, but this seems to be ignored as a matter of course by everyone. Anaheim Hills Overlook is found a quarter mile west at a rounded, lower summit. Peak 1,257ft is 1.5mi NE of Robbers Peak and can be connected by hike or bike along trails and through neighborhoods. I chose to drive to a shorter starting point at the end of Ave De Santiago which made it another short hike. More interesting than Anaheim Hills Overlook, it has a nice view looking down on Walnut Canyon Reservoir to the west.

Bauer BM

A short, rocky and steep hike in El Modena Open Space along N. Cannon St. This one appears on PB but not LoJ. I parked at the NE corner of the park at E. Patria Ct. and N. Cannon St, utilizing a signed trail that starts from there. The summit has a benchmark as advertised, but it has been abused over the years and is mostly unreadable. The whole outing took but 20min.

Peak 932ft

Another short, steep hike but this one not sanctioned by any of the park agencies. The peak is crowned by a large water tank, the highpoint found at the edge of the bulldozed summit on the north side. The summit is solidly encased by suburbia. I parked at the end of E. Canyon Ridge where a drainage culvert can be used to climb halfway to the summit. A faint use trail can be picked up from the end of one of the side branches to take you to the top without need to bushwhack. Seven minutes roundtrip on this one.

Puma Ridge

Another PB summit that doesn't qualify for LoJ. This one is located within Irvine Regional Park. There is a fee to utilize the park but in talking to the attendant I found the park closes at 6p, leaving me only about 20min. Instead, I drove back out and parked in the Albertson's lot at the corner of Chapman and Jamboree. From there I rode my bike the short distance to the bike-friendly park. The Horseshoe Loop and Puma Ridge Trails can be used to make a loop going over the highpoint. I got to the summit just after sunset with the rising of a full moon over the Santa Ana Mtns - a very nice way to end the day. And now to get back to the van before it gets too dark...


Scott Barnes comments on 04/11/17:
I think you've now visited more peaks in Orange County than I have. Of this list, Peak 1,257ft is the only one I've been to, and even then maybe only twice, in spite of running right by it most days of the week.
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