Two days after getting lost on the second half of Simpson Park’s 5.3 mile classic loop trail, Jeff and I return to figure out where we missed the mark. Talk about getting back up on the proverbial horse…
So we start backwards this time and take the first “rabbit trail” off the Lichen onto Lake View then Buck Brush before connecting to the Ocotillo Trail.
Sure enough, we see what happened. We missed the portion of the Ocotillo Trail heading north and continued hiking west. The map above does not show the trail we took and the Ocotillo is not marked with a “Stop Going Forward And Turn Here” sign.
We continue, successfully completing the whole loop this time. I celebrate with a picture of Mt. San Gorgonio and the city of Hemet taken at the summit from the Hoodoo Lounge.
Today we try the classic loop again, clockwise, taking the Lichen to the Manzanita then across the road to Black Sage, Ribbonwood, and Live Oak before crossing over to the Canyon Trail and up to the summit.
Once again I take some pics at Hoodoo Lounge. Notice how tall the cairns are today!
Simpson Park is open today so cars can drive up to the two picnic areas. We decide to park at the lower area and take the Ocotillo Trail down to the Quail Trail.
We find ourselves scrambling down rocks. Looking back up, I take a picture.
I turn around to take another picture of our descent and what do I see?
There is a trail to the right that avoids the rock scrambling we did on the left. Once again we have managed to take the “road less traveled”.
The Qual Trail leads us past the gate to the dirt road and the Crest Trail. But instead of continuing up to the summit we cross onto the Red Tail Trail until it intersects with a portion of the Middle Earth Trail (which is unnamed except for on the map).
Middle Earth takes us to Mule Deer Steep, a dirt road that appropriately lives up to its nomenclature.
Then we head down to the Morning Wood Trail which heads right back up into the Mojo Trail that loops us around to a series of switchbacks that make us climb even more. Ha, ha… you really have to get your mojo on for this hike!
Luckily some interesting rocks call my name and give me an excuse to stop and rest and take some pictures.
The rock below reminds us of a howling rhino or pig.
And there’s another X in the sky…
…Reminiscent of our first visit to Simpson Park:
These rocks really crack us up…
Our legs and lungs thank us when we reach the end of the Mojo and take Live Oak, Ribbonwood, and Black Sage back to the park road. Easy Peasey.
But we’re not back to the car just yet. We still have to cross the road to the Manzanita Trail and head up, yes up again, to the second picnic area. Whew, we have done some serious hiking and climbing today!
Finally we stumble out of all the trails and walk back down the paved park road to our car…
Our goal today is to retrace some of our steps from January 29th when we ended up getting lost and descending onto Gibbel Road.
So we start the classic loop trail counterclockwise again until we reach the Ocotillo Trail. Then we follow the trail to the west instead of continuing east.
There are many trails headed every which way but we are trying to find a rock painted with red, blue, and pink balloons. We remember passing by and beside this landmark before heading south toward Gibbel.
This proves no easy task but we finally find the painted rock. However, we still can’t figure out how we continued going the wrong way and wound up hitchhiking back to Simpson Park on that fateful day. We were so close, just a right turn on a right trail!
We head back to the Ocotillo and somehow end up on the parallel jeep trail below so we miss the intersection of the Ocotillo and Quail Trails.
The good news is I get to take this beautiful picture below:
Backtracking again, we’re getting good at this, we find where the Ocotillo heads north up to the first parking and picnic area. But before we exit onto the paved road we take the Bluejay and Cactus Trails instead which lead us to the upper parking and picnic area, the end of the park’s paved road.
Now all we have to do is find the Lake View Trail and descend back down to the Lichen Trail where we began. The trail is steep but short.
Unfortunately we miss the trailhead and start rock scrambling again. The picture below shows the rocks we scaled:
Choosing not to climb back up the way we came, we keep taking every path that looks like a potential trail until we see Diamond Valley Lake ahead.
At last, we confidently step forward and follow the Lake View Trail to the now familiar “rabbit trail” leading back to the Lichen Trailhead where we started.
Today we plan a new hike incorporating the Bobcat and Red Tail Trails via the paved road parking area. After all, Simpson Park through-traffic was open 5 days ago.
When we arrive, however, the traffic gates are closed and the parking area is crowded since today is Sunday. Having a small car, we find a place to park.
As we watch several people from the parking lot scramble up a steep path leading to higher ground, we decide to climb up as well. A great way to get the heart pumping right away!
The top of the trail flattens out and we head to the paved road, cross it, and catch the Lichen “rabbit” Trail that intersects with the Lake View Trail and continues up, up, up to the top of the paved road.
Then we descend the Blue Jay Trail to the dirt road and take the Crest to the Red Tail where we climb the steep Bobcat.
My favorite manzanita tree greets us on Red Tail.
Bobcat is a challenge. The trail just keeps going up until it reaches the Canyon Trail.
It’s a great workout.
Finally, we take Canyon to the other end of Red Tail and cut across to the intersection of Bobcat and Mule Deer Steep. We opt for the dirt road to take us to the picnic shelter where we walk down the winding hill of the paved road to our car.
Canyon Trail offers views of Mt. Gorgonio on the left and Mt. San Jacinto to the right. In the foreground an unusual rock formation inspires me.
Red Tail has some wicked switchbacks and ascents.
What a great hike!
No pictures today… just the classic loop again… But this time no map!
The bummer today is the weather. It’s overcast, windy, and cool. Southern California is under a spell of mid-50 degree days.
Hiking in the Santa Rosa Hills does not disappoint. Every trail offers ups and downs, moderate challenges, and beautiful scenery.
Or skip the trails and scramble the rocks. When you get tired, take a seat and enjoy the views below and beyond.