Yesterday with a couple of hiking/trail running friends, I ventured out to Ortega mountain. Destination: Sitton Peak in Cleveland National Forest! As I am getting into trail running without any reservation as part of injury recovery process (easy on my joints) and benefits from running uphills (interval uphill run), I took my time hiking and trail running up Bear Canyon Trail to Sitton Peak.

Lake Elsinore with Mt. San Jacinto in the background

Last time when I hiked around Santiago Peak in Ortega mountain was a couple of days shy of 1 year ago. Then, I hiked part of San Juan Trail with a good friend of mine to Blue Jay Campground. It was my first taste of the lower elevation hikes as my hikes had been strenuous ones in and around Baldy, San Gorgonio and San Jacinto mountains with elevation gains of 4,000 plus feet.

So, it was about time. It was very nice seeing my friend again. And this time another good friend of mine, also hiker and trail runner, joined us and introduced me to Sitton Peak via Bear Canyon Trail.

This track was created with Gaia GPS.
  • Distance: 9.44 miles (out and back from the trailhead to the peak)
  • Moving time: 2 hours and 44 minutes
  • Ascent: 2,113 feet
Bear Canyon Trailhead

Its trailhead is located on the opposite side of the Ortega Highway, nearby Ortega Oaks Candy Store and Goods, aka the candy store, to hikers. We parked our vehicles in San Juan Loop Trailhead parking lot across the two-lane freeway from the candy store.

Altra Lone Peak 2.5

I put on my new Altra Lone Peak 2.5 trail running shoes to try out. I was quite thrilled about this opportunity of combining my passion for running and appreciation for nature.

Sitton Peak sign

Sitton Peak is only 3,273 feet high. And our hike/trail run had only 2,117 feet elevation gain, so naturally it is considered a beginner’s and semi-intermediate hike.

Wide uphill part of Verdugo Truck Trail

Bear Canyon Trail intersects with a few other trails along the way, and it offers many flat and wide open portions, which is just great for trail running. After some shaded parts of the mountain, we came to a wide open junction, which is where the trail meets Verdugo Truck Trail. From this point on, it is a bit of downhill, however, it also soon intersects with Sitton Peak Truck Trail.

When Sitton Canyon Trail reaches the elevation of about 2,820 feet, it veers off to the left. Instead of continuing on it, we got off the trail and started up the half-mile distance of steep uphill incline right before the arrival at the peak. It isn’t difficult but definitely demands full attention as far as one’s footing goes because it is quite slippery. Due to the erosion with sands and tiny stones, my Lone Peak didn’t have much of benefits from its traction.

Ocean view from Sitton Peak

The peak offers a 360-degree view of the surroundings, including as far as Mt. San Gorgonio, Mt. San Jacinto, and the Pacific Ocean and even Catalina Island, and as close as Santiago Peak, which is on the other side of the Ortega Freeway.

Speaking of Santiago Peak, hiking up Los Pinos Trail to the peak still remains on my bucket list.

Register at Sitton Peak

After taking a quick snack-munching and electrolyte infused water drinking break, I pulled out my camera to take some landscape photos. Also, I didn’t forget to take a quick shot of the geodetic survey marker at Sitton Peak.

The geodetic survey marker at Sitton Peak

And after a few obligatory selfies, we hurried back down the trail, and this time it was mostly trail running. I felt that my new trail running shoes were great most of the time. However, its naturally bigger toe box may have given more room for my feet to stay just snug. I may have to put on an extra pair of socks.

Have you hiked or trail run to Sitton Peak? How was it? Have you explored other trails in the area? What is the most exciting thing about Sitton Peak?

Thank you for reading.