Wilderness trails inside Riverside city limits? Amazing but true. Sycamore Canyon Park Trail is a 4.6-mile loop that winds through dramatic boulder formations and traverses 450 feet of elevation gain leading up and over a 1,645-foot hilltop that overlooks interconnected trails, rolling hills, and, yes, the city of Riverside. The trail runs through Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park, a 1,424-acre nature reserve.
The 4.6-mile loop is one of the best routes to experience the park to the fullest, whether you’re on foot or astride a mountain bike. The trail takes you from the north end of the park to the south, with plenty of hilltops and valleys in between. With multiple forks and alternative routes that are all interconnected, it’s easy to make a wrong turn. Just remember that your trail runs along the east side of Sycamore Canyon. Look for hilltop benches, which are great for relaxing and taking in the view—and let you know you’re on the right track.
TIP: Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park is also home to the Ameal Moore Nature Center, located at the main trailhead. They offer free field guides, citizen science projects, and family programs throughout the year. Guided nature hikes point out plant life such as Pacific asters and burr marigolds and you’ll learn about the rare animal life, including the endangered kangaroo rat.
Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park is open daily from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. From the I-215 in Riverside, exit on Central Ave. heading west. Make a U-turn on Quail Run Rd., then turn right into the dirt parking lot. The trail begins in the parking lot. Dog-friendly!