Explore the most popular birding trails in Rancho San Antonio County Park with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Really enjoyed this hike. Took about 4hrs to complete. Started at 7:30am..

the first one mile is mostly exposed so are first two miles of the return loop. the hard parts are all in the first half of loop. once you reach the top power transmission tower then it's all downhill and you can enjoy the view. if you have enough strength then it's worthy to continue to black mountain tower for 4 more miles round trip.

Did the hike this afternoon. Was planning on just doing the PG&E trail but said what the hell when I reached the top. I left at 4:10 and reached the top of PG&E in just over an hour. I jogged about 40% of the way. Thought it was a bit late and was short on water but figured I could do another 2 miles without too much difficulty. The trail narrowed and was steep from the get go. I'm 54 and can keep a decent pace (I think). I met two young girls along the way and was surprised at their speed but one said she ran x-country for her high school. We decided to go to the top together despite the late hour. I was concerned about possibly having my car stuck inside the gate over night if we got back too late. 1 mile from top of PG&E took about 35 mins. I thought it was a butt kicker. We could see the radio towers a good 3/4 mile from the top and I was about to turn around, thinking we wouldn't make it back til 8-8:30. The young girls proceeded...I wasn't going to drive home with a gut wrenching feeling of defeat so decided to finish it. We made it to the towers at about 6:15. A good very tough hour for the last two miles. We high fived and took a few pics and promptly headed down. We kept a good pace. I was depleted of water but one of the girls gladly filled my empty bottle. Due to the steepness it was nearly impossible to run. Made it back to the top of PG&E just after 7. We returned via Wild Cat and were finally able to pick our speed up after a 1/4 mile or so. We were trotting at a good pace as the sun had set and the full moon came into full view shortly thereafter. It was dark at the top of Wild Cat and we needed our flash lights. Too dark, steep and tired to run by then. We went through the farm and finally made it back to the parking lot just before 8 where I was greeted by an angry Ranger Ken who proceeded to give me a lecture, along with a 45.00 ticket for being late. I didn't give a shit. Was glad I went to the top and happy the girls gave me the extra push I needed. This hike is 12 miles from the parking lot. I would call it bit of a butt kicker. Doing Whitney in a few weeks so this was a good practice run, albeit not at elevation.

There's a big parking lot, but this is a popular staging area, so it gets crowded fast. The trail is dirt road the whole way, with power lines and views of the bay. It's a nearby neighborhood tromp with a little bit of elevation and distance, but a pretty mediocre hike otherwise.

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To reach black mountain, there are three prominent trails. One is via hidden villa, second one is via Rhus ridge and the third one is via PG&E trail.

This trail (3rd) is less common due to the elevation gain being close to 3200 feet and is 12 miles total hiking distance. It is a good hike and gets challenging on the last two miles of ascent i.e. 5th and 6th mile. This hike is a must do in bay area before going to Yosemite hikes like upper yosemite waterfall hike or four mile hike etc.

When you reach the top, don't get dishearten by the communication towers. Rather, take the monte bello road towards the opening and you will be pleasantly surprised with the view of pacific ocean to west, San Francisco city to north, Lick's observatory in the east and mnt umunhum in the south. Also, you will get a good view of the silicon bay area.

I recommend this hike.

Good, challenging hike. I did it clockwise and I'm glad I did (though there was some steep downhill from the high point). I like to get most of the climbing out of the way earlier rather than later. I also appreciated that there's a fair amount of shade and cool breezes on the climb, since I was hiking at the hottest time of day. I'd hesitate to do it on a particularly hot day, but it's a good choice when it's normal-to-cool. The addition of Rogue Valley Trail was a nice way to extend it: a fairly gradual downhill from the ridge and then a flat final mile or two. I'll be doing this route again!

It is a decent trail and is easy to moderate. I started at 3 PM and hardly found anyone on track as compared to morning counterpart. Initial trail has buzz of electrical lines which is distracting to an extent but the ascent keeps you occupied. There isn't any scenic view apart from the valley view which points where the concrete jungle is. Path is well marked and in between you get patches of trees which is a real solace in hot sun. After first 4 miles with the elevation gain of 1.7k feet, it is normal decent back to start point.

all time favorite ..good incline and fully shaded .

Like the PG &E trail.

awesome hike. lots of coverage. lots of people but still worth it. nice that trailed are being used. easy to follow. well marked. would go back. seems like it would be a great running trail.

Was a sweet climb, not too hard, but a good workout

One of my favorite trails in the bay area. Getting to the top of the PG&E trail is the highlight of the trip!

Great hike. I extended it by a few miles to summit Black Mountain and really enjoyed it. It was about 18 miles with that added. I did it clockwise, which was better for me to do the steepest part first and then have most of the flat towards the end. My favorite part was heading up towards Black Mtn along the ridge. Very nice views!

First part is actually quite unshaded/open and hot. Second part is nicely wooded and shady. Would probably be a fantastic hike in the winter; just a tad too hot in August. FYI our pedometers were showing closer to 7-7.5 miles than the 6 that's listed.

Nice trail. Starts with a steep hill. Not too hard. Did that with a heavy backpacking bag. Half shaded half in the sun.

My local trail! I have been walking this trail since I was 4 (now 25) and it never gets old. It can be hard to find parking during peak hours (weekday evenings and weekends) but always worth it. The woodsy environment is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the Bay Area. The uphills/downhills are manageable for any level. I frequently come here for walks with my mom. Runners love this trail (I personally don't run but my mom and cousin do). This is a very popular trail, so if you have headphones in please be courteous of runners or those moving faster than you!

Nice trail, decently shaded. Most of the trail is a wide formed dirt path, which takes away a bit from the nature experience.

hiking
2 months ago

70% shaded trail. Easy and well maintained. Gradual ascent and descent throughout.

A good easy to moderate hike, well traveled, there are open spaces but mostly covered. Great vistas and overall fun hike.

5 stars because it is really hard and exhausting. If you are planning to hike this trail in Summer or Fall start by 5.30 am so that you are back by noon before the scorching heat. Only 15 to 20 percent of the route has shade, rest of the trail is through pastures, bushes and barren land. Carry enough water because there are no water fountains on the trail and not even a bench to sit for a while. For expert hikers this is fun but it is not recommended for novice hikers.

Definitely a moderate to hard trail, more on the hard side given the elevation and distance . The entire loop is exactly 9.9miles (starting and ending at the entrance parking lot ) and we hiked it clockwise. The climb to the top is ~4.5 miles and elevation gain is around 400ft/mile and is a great workout (going Counterclockwise results in a relatively shallow climb but a steep descent which is very hard on the knees). Great Panoramic Views of the valley provide some respite in the climb. Bring lots of water. Overall, a great workout and an enjoyable hike

Surprisingly nice trail for a quick walk after work. Some decent elevation gain (especially towards the top going anti-clockwise) and good views.

I went in the evening and found anti-clockwise worked well - singletrack half of the way up and the majority in shade. Sections did have sun in the eyes so sunglasses recommended.

This hike should be categorized as hard due to the length and the elevation. It was quite difficult doing the full loop, but completely worth it. Absolutely gorgeous.

good tough hike.started late - around 730 and the weather was quite humid in the early part. it was quite draining and by the time we hit the black mountain trail it became really tough. on a spring or winter day would have be a good hike.
went counterclockwise and that was better since the PGE trail is attracts heavy traffic in mornings. there is a lot of parking but they all get filled up by 7. so plan on street parking and adding another 1.5 miles of hike. the PGE trail is a long fire road and for serious hikers will not be enjoyable with the constant hum of the transmission line. Not on my top 10 list of bay area hikes but will return some time in winter or spring

Felt like hard tho had lots of fun. Saw wild fox.

First mile very strenuous. Highly recommend the Black mountain trail off of Rhus Ridge

hiking
3 months ago

nice hike. better to do early on hot day.

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