“‘This is Halloween, this is Halloween,’ pumpkins scream in the dead of night,” intones a chorus of disembodied voices in Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, whose protagonist is Jack Skellington the Pumpkin King. Now that the Pumpkin King has reached iconic status as the emblem of Creepy Season, it’s only fitting that he crowns a mountaintop.
Thanks to a team of local artists, you can visit this legendary being high in the hills of Norco, overlooking the Jurupa Valley. The hike is short and fairly easy, roughly two miles round-trip starting from the George Engalls Equestrian Center. The trailhead isn’t marked; the only indicator you’ll see is a mostly faded trail sign near where Sixth Street meets the equestrian center.
Of course, the better clue is the giant smiling pumpkin staring down at you from above! From the trailhead, follow the path until you see a trail split off to the left, leading up the hill (if you reach the horse sculptures, you’ve gone too far, though they do make a fun detour!). Take that side trail up the mountain until you come face to face with the Pumpkin King himself! It’s a steep trek, and the gravel is loose, but it’s worth the effort.
Once upon a time, Pumpkin Rock was called Elephant Rock, and over the years it has been repainted many times—once as a giant Union 76 ball! So while it might be a Jack Skellington–inspired jack-o’-lantern right now, who knows what it may become in the future? Something to ponder as you picnic at its base, enjoying amazing views of the Jurupa Valley far below. You can almost hear voices…This is Halloween, this is Halloween, Halloween! Halloween! Halloween! Halloween!
Take the I-15 to Norco, exit at Sixth St., and head east. You can either turn right on Crestview Dr. and park in the George Engalls Equestrian Center, or take Sixth St. until it ends and park on the residential street. Be sure to obey all posted parking signs. Dog-friendly!