The Claremont Hills Wilderness Trail (aka the Claremont Loop), is located in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains within the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park in Claremont, California. The hike is a fairly straightforward five-mile loop on a wide fire road with about 950 feet of elevation gain. Since this trail doesn’t really offer any spectacular views or peak to bag, it is used primarily for exercise and conditioning.
Distance: 5.0 miles
Duration: 2.5 hours
Elevation Gain: 950 feet
From the 210 Freeway, exit at Baseline Ave in Claremont and drive west. Proceed 0.7 miles and then turn right on Mills Ave (north). Continue north on Mills Ave about 1.4 miles to the large trailhead parking lot on the left. There is a $3.00 self-serve parking toll for non-residents. If the trailhead parking lot is full, you can also park at the auxiliary lot located on the corner of Mills Ave & Mt Baldy Rd, about 0.3 miles to the south. Claremont residents with parking permits can park at this lot for free.
Parking kiosk at the Claremont Hills Wilderness Trail
The effective trailhead for the Claremont Hills Wilderness Trail is the entrance gate located at the north end of the parking lot. Follow the path about 600 feet to the first fork on the trail. The trail to the right (northeast) is the Cobal Canyon Mtwy (aka the Cobal Canyon Trail).
The trail to the left (west) is the Burbank Mtwy. Both trails eventually connect with the Johnson’s Pasture Rd which creates the Claremont Loop. For this hike, you will walk up the steeper Cobal Canyon Trail and walk down the Burbank Mtwy. If you do the hike in reverse, the incline is less severe.
Margaret shows the way up through Cobal Canyon
Cobal Canyon Mtwy
Take the Cobal Canyon Mtwy in a northerly direction through the canopy of trees. The trees provide welcome shade on hot days, but also attract mosquitoes in humid weather. This is the most scenic portion of the Claremont Hills Wilderness Trail.
Enjoy the shady areas while you can because the shade ends at about the one-mile mark. You will be fully exposed to the sun for the remainder of the hike. You may also see poison oak growing near the trail. Be careful not to touch it.
Aska finds poison oak along the Claremont Loop trail
For the next mile, you will continue to climb fairly steeply around a horseshoe curve as you make your way out of Cobal Canyon. You will encounter a junction with the Potato Mountain Trail to the right, about 1.5 miles from the trailhead. Stay to the left and continue your journey up the hill. This portion of the trail is not quite as steep. But it’s still a moderate climb.
Johnson’s Pasture Mtwy
At about the 2.5 mile mark, you will come to another fire road junction on the right, blocked by a yellow heffer gate. This is actually the continuation of the Cobal Canyon Mtwy leading to Marshall Canyon. But you will stay to the left on Johnson’s Pasture Rd. In about 800 feet, you will see the shade structure ramada on your left. Most Claremont Loop regulars refer to it as the Gazebo.
Claremont Loop Gazebo
Claremont Loop Gazebo
The Gazebo is the informal halfway point of the hike and a great place to take a break. Plus, you get nice views of Ontario and Cucamonga Peaks to the north.
After your break, continue on Johnson’s Pasture Road, first down, then up over a bump always staying to left. About a half mile from the shade structure, the trail forks yet again into a huge junction with the Burbank Mtwy.
Aska points out the Gazebo in the distance
The Johnson’s Pasture Road elbows to the left before continuing on into Johnson’s Pasture, however, the Burbank Mtwy veers sharply to the left in a hairpin, almost u-turn fashion.
NOTE: This is where some hikers new to the Claremont Hilla Wilderness Trail get fouled up and end up in Johnson’s Pasture instead of back at the trailhead where they intended. Just be sure to make a hard left at this junction, almost doubling back on the trail and you will be on the Burbank Mtwy where you belong.
On very clear days, you can sometimes see downtown LA and even Catalina Island from the trail. Once you reach the bottom of the loop, make a right turn and walk the 600 feet back to the parking lot.
Rare view of Catalina Island from the Claremont Loop
Claremont Loop Address
There is no official Claremont Hills Wilderness Trail address. However, a virtual address of 4099 Mills Ave, Claremont, CA 91711 will get you very close to the main parking lot at the end of Mills Ave. The main lot is located about 0.3 miles north of the auxiliary parking lot on the corner of Mills Ave & Mt Baldy Rd.
Claremont Wilderness Trail Hours
Because the Claremont Hills Wilderness Trail is located within city limits, hikers are subject to the posted hours and additional City of Claremont rules. The park hours are shown below and are subject to change. Please check the City’s website for the most current hours of operation and wilderness park rules.
|January||6:30 a.m.||5:00 p.m.|
|February||6:30 a.m.||5:30 p.m.|
|March||6:30 a.m.||6:30 p.m.|
|April||6:00 a.m.||7:30 p.m.|
|May||5:30 a.m.||8:00 p.m.|
|June||5:30 a.m.||8:30 p.m.|
|July||5:30 a.m.||8:30 p.m.|
|August||6:00 a.m.||8:00 p.m.|
|September||6:30 a.m.||7:00 p.m.|
|October||6:30 a.m.||6:00 p.m.|
|November||6:00 a.m.||5:00 p.m.|
|December||6:30 a.m.||5:00 p.m.|
Claremont Hills Wilderness Trail Map
Because the Claremont Loop is just a five-mile fire road in a city wilderness park, don’t expect to find any detailed Tom Harrison type of topo maps covering it. The City’s website shows a small map of the Claremont Loop but the image is too small to be of much use. Just search for the Claremont Wilderness trail head using Google Maps or Google Earth and you’ll get a pretty good idea of what the trail looks like.
The Claremont Hills Wilderness Trail is also featured in a couple trusted hiking guides including the two listed below.
- Top Trails: Los Angeles: Must-Do Hikes for Everyone by Jerry Schad, TRAIL 43 San Gabriel Mountains Cobal Canyon Loop, Wilderness Press Kindle Edition (2010-08-03).
- Afoot and Afield: Inland Empire: A Comprehensive Hiking Guide by David Money Harris, David; Jennifer Money Harris, Trip 2.5 Claremont Hills Wilderness Park, Wilderness Press Kindle Edition (2010-03-12).