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Visit Chino Hills State Park in winter, when emerald green grass spreads over rolling hills.

Serenely insular amid the spreading suburbs of Los Angeles, Chino Hills State Park spreads across some 13,000 acres of three counties: Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino. Fifty million dollars of public funds were expended in the 1980s and '90s to purchase and protect these rolling hills and wooded ravines, formerly used for sheep and cattle grazing. The park remains largely undeveloped today, containing just one small drive-in campground, an equestrian staging area, and scattered picnic tables. More than 60 miles of trails lace the park, the majority of them former unpaved access roads and jeep trails from the ranching days.

Hot, dry, and often smoggy in summer, the Chino Hills undergo a dramatic transformation when the winter rains begin. Tender new grass blades climb through the bleached remnants of the previous season's growth. By March in most years, the landscape appears monochromatically green. Afterward, as daylight lengthens and the heat returns, a yellow wave of dying and drying grass overtakes the meadows and grassy hillsides, leaving behind green patches of live oak, sycamore, and native black walnut trees.

To reach the park from San Diego (a two-hour drive), head north on Interstate 15 to Corona, go west on Highway 91 (Riverside Freeway) for 5.5 miles, then go north on Highway 71. After seven miles on Highway 71, exit at Soquel Canyon Parkway. Turn left (west) and continue 1.0 mile to Elinvar Drive. Turn left there, left again after 0.2 mile, and then immediately right on the gravel road (open 8 a.m. to sunset) signed "Chino Hills State Park." After two miles the road becomes paved and eventually bends sharply right. There's an equestrian staging area on a knoll to the right, and a kiosk on the left, where you can pay day-use or camping fees.

At the expense of a small amount of exercise and one hour or less of time, you can walk east on a wide path from the entrance road toward a knoll designated "McLean Overlook" on park maps. The first 0.4 mile of steep ascent is followed by another 0.4 mile of gentle ascent to the overlook. Your view encompasses rolling, grass-covered hills flanking a shallow valley lined with tall sycamores. In spring the hillsides are tinted blue by lupine blossoms and accented by yellow bands of wild mustard.

The clayey soils of the Chino Hills are derived from bedrock consisting mainly of weak siltstones. These soils expand when wet and are especially prone to creeping and sliding when waterlogged. Notice examples of recent slumping and gullying on the slopes. Look also for evidence of much older and larger landslides. These big ones probably developed during the last Pleistocene glacial stage (10,000 to 20,000 years ago) when Southern California's climate was much wetter than it is now.

For more information, call Chino Hills State Park at 909-780-6222.

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Serenely insular amid the spreading suburbs of Los Angeles, Chino Hills State Park spreads across some 13,000 acres of three counties: Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino. Fifty million dollars of public funds were expended in the 1980s and '90s to purchase and protect these rolling hills and wooded ravines, formerly used for sheep and cattle grazing. The park remains largely undeveloped today, containing just one small drive-in campground, an equestrian staging area, and scattered picnic tables. More than 60 miles of trails lace the park, the majority of them former unpaved access roads and jeep trails from the ranching days.

Hot, dry, and often smoggy in summer, the Chino Hills undergo a dramatic transformation when the winter rains begin. Tender new grass blades climb through the bleached remnants of the previous season's growth. By March in most years, the landscape appears monochromatically green. Afterward, as daylight lengthens and the heat returns, a yellow wave of dying and drying grass overtakes the meadows and grassy hillsides, leaving behind green patches of live oak, sycamore, and native black walnut trees.

To reach the park from San Diego (a two-hour drive), head north on Interstate 15 to Corona, go west on Highway 91 (Riverside Freeway) for 5.5 miles, then go north on Highway 71. After seven miles on Highway 71, exit at Soquel Canyon Parkway. Turn left (west) and continue 1.0 mile to Elinvar Drive. Turn left there, left again after 0.2 mile, and then immediately right on the gravel road (open 8 a.m. to sunset) signed "Chino Hills State Park." After two miles the road becomes paved and eventually bends sharply right. There's an equestrian staging area on a knoll to the right, and a kiosk on the left, where you can pay day-use or camping fees.

At the expense of a small amount of exercise and one hour or less of time, you can walk east on a wide path from the entrance road toward a knoll designated "McLean Overlook" on park maps. The first 0.4 mile of steep ascent is followed by another 0.4 mile of gentle ascent to the overlook. Your view encompasses rolling, grass-covered hills flanking a shallow valley lined with tall sycamores. In spring the hillsides are tinted blue by lupine blossoms and accented by yellow bands of wild mustard.

The clayey soils of the Chino Hills are derived from bedrock consisting mainly of weak siltstones. These soils expand when wet and are especially prone to creeping and sliding when waterlogged. Notice examples of recent slumping and gullying on the slopes. Look also for evidence of much older and larger landslides. These big ones probably developed during the last Pleistocene glacial stage (10,000 to 20,000 years ago) when Southern California's climate was much wetter than it is now.

For more information, call Chino Hills State Park at 909-780-6222.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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