“A challenging, mostly fireroad hike with some fun singletrack on the way back to the parking lot.”
— Janna Williams
Cheeseboro Canyon is popular with runners, hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians. While there are many trail options in the area, this is a perfect nine mile loop.
Features: Birding — Fall Colors — River/Creek — Wildflowers — Wildlife
Need to Know
In a rainy season, there may be creek crossings. This is not a good trail to hike immediately after a rain as the mud really sticks to your shoes. There are restrooms at the start. Parking is free. The main parking lot is open from 8:00 am to sunset. You may still visit if the gate is closed (parking is available in front of the gate).
The trail starts on the fireroad and is a gradual climb for the first mile. You'll take a left on the Cheeseboro Ridge Trail
, and this is where the climbing begins. It continues to climb for the next three miles with a couple recovery downhills.
Once you get to top, you'll want to stop and enjoy the beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and communities. You'll continue with a downhill, another quick climb and downhill again until you get to the Sheep Corral Trail
where you turn left toward Shepherd's Flat then left again on Cheeseboro Canyon Trail
This is where the fun begins! It is almost downhill back to the parking lot and the next few miles are singletrack! There are a couple of creek crossings but most of the year they are dry. You'll end the singletrack at Sulphur Springs (this one could have water) and sometimes you'll get a strong whiff of sulphur. The trail then continues on the fireroad and still descending back to the parking lot.
Flora & Fauna
Oak trees and sedimentary rock areas provide excellent nesting sites for owls, hawks, and other raptors. Keep an eye out for deer, bobcats, coyotes, and rabbits. Many of the native plants, poorly adapted to heavy grazing, were replaced with European annuals such as wild oats, mustard, and thistles.
History & Background
For over 150 years, ranchers made these canyons their home. The gently rounded hills and canyons of Cheeseboro and Palo Comado are older than the steeper, more recently formed Santa Monica Mountains.