Headed to California for a few days and decided to do a couple of trails in Cleveland National Forest along the Ortega Highway. Not the Ideal time to hike these mountains but it beat not hiking and I had a couple of hours to kill. The Arizona Monsoon edged into California and you could see the evidence of it along the San Jacinto, San Gorgonio and Laguna Mountain further south. A few months ago I hiked the lower portion of the San Juan Trail and today I will hike a portion of the upper San Juan. Not enough time to do the whole thing, probably wait for cooler weather before doing that. I started at the Blue Jay Camp Ground and hiked to the junction of the Chiquito Trail, about 2.1 miles. I called this a loop trail because I hiked in on the new San Juan trail most of the way and switched to the old before reaching the turn around point at Chiquito Trail. On the way back I did the opposite. This switching trails was not planned but the result of the GPS route I downloaded. It appears they rerouted the trail, probably to make it more biker Friendly. Fairly easy walking through Oak trees and other typical southern California shrubbery. I have no Idea what half the plants are, which is a shame I should spend some time looking them up. I do know what the Poison Oak looks like though. Turned out to be a great way to kill a couple of hours before heading into the rat race of Mission Viejo.
I had a couple hours to kill so I decided to hike the lower portion of the San Juan Trail. The complete trail is 11 miles long and will have to finish it another time. This trail is heavily used by mountain bikers and is in good condition. From the start you climb, there are no steps in the trail and it is not rocky, I found I could still do a 2.5 mile/hour pace though. It is amazing how steep a slope of dirt can get if you put some plants on it. In places the sides of the hill are so steep you have to ask yourself when does a slope become a cliff? The wild flowers were still plentiful but probably past the peak season.
average hiking speed 2.87 mph
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.