Distance: 9 miles round trip on trail
Summit Elevation: 1781' (San Juan Hill), 1685' (Gilman Peak)
Prominence: 976' (San Juan Hill), 195' (Gilman Peak)
Elevation Gain: 2031' (combined)
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 1.62
Round trip time: 2 hours 50 minutes
Recommended water: 96 oz. (water available on hike)
Parking/Fees: Parking free on Rim Crest street
Difficulty: Moderate (combined)
Almost any hike is going to be a let down after Mt. Whitney, and this is not a visually stunning hike, but it was a good way to ease back into the non-epic hiking world. These two peaks in Chino Hills are near the bottom of the Sierra Club lower peaks list, neither rising to 2000'. Parking is free in a residential neighborhood on the corner of Rim Crest and Blue Gum in Yorba Linda. Use your favorite mapping program for directions. These regional parks usually have a maze of intersecting trails, but I didn't bother to print one for Chino Hills. I just loaded the GPS track from Patrick O'Neill, downloaded from peakbagger.com, and figured it would be good enough to find the major junctions.
Because I arrived at 8:30, I had to park a few streets before Blue Gum as cars from earlier park goers lined the right side of the street. I had no trouble getting started down the South Ridge Trail toward San Juan Hill. There is a modest gain at first, followed by rolling hills on a wide dirt road. I jogged most of the down hills since there was not much scenery. The clearly marked summit trail on the right came quickly and I made short work of it. Along with the hexagonal cement marker, there are two benchmarks on San Juan Hill, but I found no log.
I only rested a few minutes on San Juan Hill before heading back toward Gilman Peak. The Little Canyon junction is the path toward Gilman and it immediately drops about 300' into Telegraph Canyon. I made a left on Telegraph Canyon, then almost an immediate right on the unmarked summit trail to Gilman. I enjoyed the trip to Gilman because it was more isolated and had a steeper finish. Gilman Peak had better views of the other local mountains although morning smog made everything hazy. I found a solar powered satellite antenna just below the peak. With this hike, I broke in some Vasque Mindbender trail runners and had started to develop a blister on my left little toe. I added some tape to the toe on Gilman and it was fine after that. When I was almost back down to Telegraph Canyon Trail, I spotted a coyote trotting along the trail. I was surprised he didn't see me. He paused on the side of the trail at one point, as three bikers stopped behind him to watch. After a few seconds, he decided to head back into the brush. I thought he looked a little scrawny and maybe was having a hard time catching the local rabbits and squirrels. I completed the loop by taking the Easy Street Trail back to my car.