Distance: 7.7 miles round trip on trail and cross country
Summit Elevation: 1044'
Elevation Gain: 1267'
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 1.01
Round trip time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Recommended water: 48 oz.
Parking/Fees: $3 OC Parks
With limited time, I looked around for a new local hike. I found some candidates in the Orange County Geodetic Control data, helpfully available in Google Earth (kmz) format. With that data, I could see all the horizontal and vertical benchmarks in the county with several close by. Mikey Sullivan had mentioned Shady Hill #2 in an email and I was able to locate it in Google Earth along a ridge line accessible from the Nix Nature Center on highway 133. It appeared to be about 100' off trail. I found a few other obscure marks off trail near my planned route. It became a game something like a Geocache hunt.
From the Nix Nature Center, I followed the Stagecoach Trail until it started descending to Camarillo Canyon. Then I left the trail and picked my way around brush and cactus looking for the LC13 benchmark. I knew it was about 500' down the gentle ridge and I eventually spotted a white unmarked sign where I found the benchmark. On the way down the ridge, I spotted a nice looking western patch-nosed snake, who was quite lethargic in the overcast early morning. They are usually skittish, but he apparently hadn't had his morning coffee and was in the same spot on my return.
I continued up to Serrano Ridge, then went south at the four corners junction, then northeast past a gate on the Hogback Ridge road. I followed Hogback Ridge to the Ridge Route single track trail toward Shady Hill #2. I eventually found a metal pole just north of the trail that marked the location of the Shady #2 summit. The benchmark was covered with a tiny shrub. I was able to look back across Shady Canyon at Shady Hill #1. With the main mission accomplished, I started back along the Ridge Route trail.
What I didn't know when I planned this trip is that Hogback Ridge and the Ridge Route trail are restricted City of Irvine trails. They can only be accessed as part of a scheduled program with the City. As I went along, I noticed a number of game cameras set up. Turns out they are monitored, and the City of Irvine doesn't take kindly to stray humans. Just before reaching the Hogback Ridge gate, a City of Irvine police truck rolled up and stopped in front of me. The officer got out and asked what I was doing. "Hiking", I replied. He notified me that I was trespassing and that the fine ranged from $250-$400. He asked for ID and wrote my name on a naughty list in his notebook. I explained that I was a frequent hiker of the nature trails in the area and had wandered this way for the first time. I got a good, long lecture on reading posted signs and staying on the public trails. It was touch and go for a few minutes, but in the end, he gave me a trail map showing the restricted trails and let me go on a promise not to tread this way again without permission. Despite the lecture, the officer was quite pleasant. I definitely recommend following the rules for these trails, because they...are...watching.