Bear Canyon Loop Trail to Sitton Peak

#4 of 89 trails in Cleveland National Forest
Bear Canyon Loop Trail to Sitton Peak is a 6.4 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Lake Elsinore, CA that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, and horses and is accessible from September until May. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

6.4 miles 1095 feet Loop
dogs on leash hiking walking horseback riding forest river views wildlife
Hide Map

Directions from Lake Elsinore, CA: Travel southwest on Highway 74 venturing into the mountains, then passing the Visitor Center / Fire Station in El Cariso. Proceed another 3.6 miles on Hwy. 74 to reach the trailhead. Parking is available at the San Juan Loop. (Trailhead is half a mile north of Upper San Juan Campground.)

joy b.
7 days ago

The Bear Canyon Loop was a great trail! We spotted a horney toad on the trail! Definitely rocky so beware. Hiking poles are a good idea. We did the entire loop, I believe it was a little over 6 miles; 3.2 to 4 corners and 3.6 back to Ortega.

Joe'd Cook
16 days ago

2 Completed2 Reviews

Great hike, the view from Sitton Peak is amazing. The trail was pretty moderate until the last park of the hike to Sitton Peak, that park is pretty intense but well worth it.

Joshua L.
21 days ago

Good hike. This trail is listed as 6.4 miles, but I recorded it as 7.0 mi. We didn't go to the peak today since it was our first 6+ mi hike with our 13month old. Slight uphill climb pretty much the whole way to four corners. Mostly sand/dirt trail with the occasional patches of rocks. Trail was well maintained and clean. Ran into on party of hikers who reported sighting a rattlesnake in vicinity (within 0.25 mi) of four corners.

And the best part? We hiked at 1:00pm on a Sunday and only ran into three hiking parties the whole time!!! Definitely hitting this trail up again.

2750 mL of water was a good amount spilt between two adults, one toddler, and one German Shepherd.

HikingGuy .com
1 month ago

33 Completed31 Reviews

Great, not so tough hike, with an awesome payoff peak. I have full hike info and turn by turn directions on HikingGuy dot Com.

Ron-Missy Knott
2 months ago

1 Completed1 Reviews

Great trail for the family! Pretty much uphill all the way to 4 corners. Didn't head up to the peak today...maybe next time. Adventure pass is required!

Paul Mac Isaac
4 months ago

59 Completed59 Reviews

Beautifully maintained trail all the way to four corners. Pigeon Springs which is near the end about a mile before four corners is a nice place to stop and eight. Once onto the Old Verdugo truck trail the hike flattens out and travels through thick woods of scrub oaks. Very nice hike.

Sina Tuliaupupu
6 months ago

25 Completed7 Reviews

Good hike! Great views at the top!

Sara Sandelovic
6 months ago

5 Completed2 Reviews

Just did the loop. Pretty mellow hike. Only real incline was in the beginning getting to the loop. Would have gone further to the peak if I wasn't battling blisters from a previous hike. Definitely one that I will do again. Many trails lead off of this one.

Azita Lock
7 months ago

69 Completed12 Reviews

Chris Chakos
7 months ago

17 Completed18 Reviews

Great hiking trail here in Ortega mountain. Has great tree coverage and beautiful views of the surrounding valleys. Great for hunting and trail running.

Michael Nelson
1 year ago

1 Completed1 Reviews

Ken Knecht
1 year ago

62 Completed29 Reviews

Trail was a decent trail. Went end of March 2015 and the flowers were all out. Problem is there was a loud humming and buzzing of bees for most of the walk into 4 Corners. It got so bad at some points that I almost turned around and went back. Because of the bugs and bees I only went to 4 Corners and then back to trailhead. Didn't go to Sitton Peak. I can do that another time. Since I didn't go up to Sitton Peak when I got back to trailhead I just crossed the street and did the 2.6 mile San Juan Loop Trail which was actually pretty nice. Both hikes totaled 9.7 miles. Just a note, the Candy Store does not sell day passes anymore. They told me that the wardens will come around and put an envelope on your car and when you get home you put $5.00 in it and mail it in. When I got back to car, after 3 hours, there was no envelope. There is a good amount of shade on both trails but the tops are sunny and it was getting hot. Not a bad hike.

Tarah Zentz
1 year ago

41 Completed30 Reviews

Got so bored with this trail that we decided to go straight up the side of the mountain (off to the left) to get the views! Nice outing but probably wouldn't do it again

Jenny Buckeridge
1 year ago

9 Completed6 Reviews

Great hike. I am still a beginner with asthma, so the inclines in the beginning really got me but I was able to push through it. There is definitely a pretty good incline on the last leg before hitting four corners. I took the bear ridge trail to loop back to the bear canyon. It inclines at first, maybe the first 10 minutes if that, then it is all down hill pretty much. It took my friend and I roughly 2 hours to complete. Lots of lizards, condors, flowers.

Todd Ryan
1 year ago

75 Completed22 Reviews

Nice little hike. In the Angeles forest and it gets away from civilization fairly quick. The candy store is a nice payoff at the end.

Joey Kidd
1 year ago

3 Completed1 Reviews

great view, watch out for the water tank on the way, DO NOT DRINK WATER FROM IT. we found a dead rat there.
love the place thou

Tom Mullins
1 year ago

5 Completed1 Reviews

Great trail, did it as an out and back to four corners. Rested briefly at four corners with my dogs who quickly were stung by super aggressive red ants which seemed to be everywhere at that location. Made for a little discomfort but they pushed through and completed the hike with out further incident. Definitely want to come back and complete the hike as a loop just to see the other terrain.

Paul G.
1 year ago

Pretty nice trail/loop!
Gets pretty warm in the afternoon, but there's a little breeze help cool you down once you get a little elevation.

The ridge trail is a little overgrown in places so wear pants or use poles to push the shrubs off the path.

Carlos Abrille
1 year ago

1117 Completed427 Reviews

AllTrails app for some reason was buggy in this area, tracking did not save and cell reception was weak at Bear Canyon Loop Trail but was perfect at San Juan Loop Trail. Original plan was to loop around Verdugo Truck Trail and descend at Morgan Trail to return to the parking lot, but Verdugo Truck Trail was just a total mess, a complete jungle, it was wretched, irritating and annoying, had to bail and retreat. Will have to return in the future and explore Bear Canyon loop. The views were indeed panoramic ascending, especially at the west and south made up for the disappointment at Verdugo.

John Savage
2 years ago

16 Completed13 Reviews

This was my first time on a trail around the Ortega Hwy. I couldn't find the trail I was initially going to. Ended up on a dirt road on private property behind Hell's Kitchen! Got the heck out of there, drove down the road and saw a couple of guys parked in a turn out with hiking gear. They guided me to the Candy Store down the road for better trail information. The ladies there were very nice and informative of all the trails this area offers. Gave me print outs of trails and all. So I decided to take the Bear Canyon Loop trail. Parking is directly across the street from the Candy Store. You do need a pass which you can purchase at the store. I have an ankle issue because I sprained it awhile back. The longest hikes I have done is around 5 miles total because my ankle swells up and makes it very difficult to hike when in pain. However, I decided to do the loop. I did pretty well and loved how quite it was all around me. I actually felt alone. I made it to the 4 corners and thought," I'm not hurting that bad so why not try to go to the peak? The peak is 1.7 miles from this point. Once I got to the sign that points to the peak, all I could do was look up! This did not even look like a trail! It looked like a water drainage path only? This was the hardest short distance in all of the hike. If you stand straight up, you will fall over. That is how step it is. Alot of sticker bushes. At times I thought I would stop and turn around but didn't want to waste how far I've already gone. So I pushed ahead and all of a sudden, you are at the top! It was worth it! Beautiful view of the ocean, Catalina ,Long Beach and all. It was a nice clear day. After awhile of resting and eating, I realized it was going to be tuff on the way back. The steep part of this peak really did a number on my ankle, especially on the way down. I was in pain the whole 5 miles back. Had to sop at least 5 times just to rest my ankle. Animals? All I saw was a few lizards in the morning. On the way back I heard a few bees flying around me but no stings. I did notice on my way back around 1:00pm, their were a lot of lizards catching sun on the trails and ran away as I approached. I realized I saw no snakes and knew seeing the lizards soaking up the sun, the snakes were about ready to start coming out soon. This trail, especially up the peak, looks like it could be snake heaven. I will definitely keep an eye out as the weather is starting to warm up! Will I go again? Yes, and bring my friends.