Ricardo Camp South Loop Trail is a 1.5 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Cantil, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October.
This is a short, marked trail starting at the south end of the loop drive in Ricardo Campground. The trail climbs gently to a ridge between the campground and adjoining Hagen Canyon, then climbs the steep face of Whistling Ridge to the summit and its rewarding views. The trail starts at the south end of the loop drive in Ricardo Campground, where the one-way drive makes the turn back towards the Visitors' Center. The trail crosses a small dry wash, then climbs gently along an eroded ridge to the main ridge that divides the campground from Hagen Canyon to the south. At the main ridge, the trail forks. The path to the right goes nowhere in particular, and the one down the opposite slope of the ridge descends to upper Hagen Canyon. You'll want the trail to the left, which soon starts to climb the back of Whistling Ridge. After a few hundred feet, the trail grows quite steep and rather eroded as the gradient follows the tilted sedimentary layers that make up the landscape of this part of the state park. Press on to the top of the ridge, and you will be rewarded with a stiff breeze (thus the ridge's name), excellent views of the campground to the north, and a desert canyon full of tilted red sandstone and hoodoos as far as the eye can see towards the east. Looking south on a clear day, you can see far into the Mojave Desert.
Short but sweet. You leave the loop drive of Ricardo Campground from its south end, climb along the ridge and, when in doubt, just keep going uphill. Quite steep near the top, but with spectacular views of the tilted layers that make up this part of the park. Bring water and a camera. On the way back down, you can drop into the upper part of Hagen Canyon to the south, and explore a landscape of badlands, hoodoos and castellation. Be careful if you head downstream in Hagen Canyon, though. There's a 50' dry waterfall at the bottom of a neat waterslide, and you wouldn't want to miss your turnaround point and keep on going over the edge!