French Hill
Signal Peak P750
La Brea A 6 BM P500
La Habra BM P500
Workman Hill P500

Mar 12, 2017
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 GPXs: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8


The last day of a 3-day volleyball tournament would be the shortest one with only two matches before the girls were done. The first wasn't until 11am which gave me some time in the morning to tag a handful of easy summits in Orange County's San Joaquin Hills. Early morning fog negated views for the first several points I visited, but eventually I got above the fog for fine views and warming conditions.

French Hill

Located in the Turtle Rock neighborhood east of UC Irvine, this is a small hill that seems to have been left undeveloped as open space. I parked in a neighborhood on Rippling Stream and followed a use trail up from the south side. Found a big pile of rocks at the summit. The experience was completely shrouded in fog and uneventfulness.

Turtle Rock Park HP

This summit appears only on PB, not in LoJ since it has no official name and very little prominence. I parked on Galileo and utilized an association trail - concrete, lighted and well-maintained on the east side of the highpoint. This got me to a roughly eroded use trail going up the south side to the highpoint. The summit area has a problem with graffiti and attempts to curtail it, leaving the summit rocks painted in very unnatural hues of blue, yellow and brown. Not sure which is worse. Another fogbound summit.

Signal Peak

This is the highpoint of the San Joaquin Hills with almost 800ft of prominence. The summit is home to multiple telecom towers and not exactly open to the public, but access is pretty easy. Best to park on Ridge Park Rd near the corner of W. Coastal Peak. I parked on the latter and had the security guard for the nearby gated community come chasing after me to tell me I couldn't park where I did (though signs clearly indicated parking was restricted beyond where I parked), but after assuring her I'd only be 15min, she let it slide and went back to her booth. I walked up the pave road to the summit, explored the higher points around a couple of underground reservoirs, then visited the summit rocks to the northwest. Here I was well above the fog layer and had open views, but looking out on row after row of expensive suburban homes didn't really do much for me. To the north one could see across the LA Basin to the San Gabriel Mtns with snow on Mt. Baldy.

Peak 914ft

Another PB-only summit with little prominence, really just a point along a ridge dropping southwest from Signal Peak. It is easily reached with a short hike from Vista Ridge Dr to the north. Signs at the gated dirt road indicate No Trespassing, but it seems to be a regularly used route to walk out along the ridge for views overlooking the ocean. Fog below blocked the ocean views, but it was a nice hike nonetheless if one can ignore all the luxury homes above you on land that one can't help but think would have been better used as Open Space.

Moro Ridge BM

I next returned to Ridge Park Rd and drove to its western end where I found the Bommer Ridge Trail West Entrance, a TH for the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. This is another popular mountain biking park and I decided to use mine to visit four PB-only summits within the park along the ridgeline that forms the backbone of the San Joaquin Hills. Three of the summits were within closed areas which I found rather annoying. Not because the areas were closed, mind you, but that someone would add these insignificant bumps to PB knowing this. I left these unvisited, bypassing them along the fireroad to reach the top of Moro Ridge BM. It was a nice bike ride, even if a little short at only about 35min, but it was time to head back to the tournament site to watch some volleyball. They won both matches they played today, then packed up to head off to the airport. I drove to the second tournament site to pick up my wife who was reffing there and took her to the John Wayne Airport to join our daughter for the flight home. I then headed to the Puente Hills to tag a few more summits with the few hours of daylight remaining.

Puente Hills HP

A No Trespassing summit, but one regularly ignored. I approached from the north starting from a neighborhood cul-de-sac at the end of Vantage Pointe Dr. The top is home to a pair of communication towers surrounded by a formidable fence. There is no reason to go inside the bulldozed tower complex, however. There are two closely spaced points vying for the highpoint, the one to the south has no tower. Both summits are enclosed by a second, outer gate, but this one is easy to breach since a whole section of the fence is missing. Lots of lupine in bloom and plenty of green grass on my short visit that took all of 20min.

Peak 1,416ft

Another summit with communication towers surrounded by a fence. This one lies within a Habitat Authority Wilderness Preserve. I started from the northwest at the end of Gotera Dr. One hikes up a bit of old pavement to reach the Wilderness Preserve, turning east. Bikes welcome here, too, but I was on foot for the short hike. More flowers, green grass and lovely eucalyptus trees along the fireroad I traveled on the summit ridgeline. The fence here is not so formidable as the last. The highpoint is inside as is the LA County benchmark.

Workman Hill

This was the last summit I visited, located near the western edge of the Puente Hills. The surrounding area is also part of the Habitat Authority Wilderness Preserve. There is a trailhead on the north side of the peak along Turnbull Canyon Rd. The hike is fairly short, taking all of ten minutes to reach the top. The highpoint is located under a transmission tower where the summit has been bulldozed some. I interrupted a young couple who were taking in the romantic late afternoon views off the east side overlooking Hacienda Heights. I had hoped to get one more summit before the day was through but found I was running out of time and decided to save it for another time. I drove north through LA Sunday evening traffic, returning to the Soledad Canyon area to spend the night. Patrick was to meet me in the area for a few more days of hiking before I needed to return to San Jose. Good times...


anonymous comments on 07/09/20:
As a resident of Orange County, I can assure you that on days without fog, the view from the Turtle Rock High Point is as lovely as one can find among suburban high points. A great place to watch the sunset from.
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