“A great loop route option in the middle of the park, with access from Rolling M Ranch.”
— Zander Göpfert
Birding · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
This loop uses two of the longer trails in the park with South Ridge Trail
and Telegraph Canyon Trail
, as it climbs to the Four Corners rest area and then returns to the starting point on a more northerly trail section. Winding through riparian habitats with sustained climbs up atop the hills and ridges, this route has a little bit of everything, with unbelievable views and access to a number of other trails to explore.
From one of the parking areas near Rolling M Ranch, head south, backtracking on Telegraph Canyon Road for a hundred yards or so until you see the start of the South Ridge Trail
on the right (west). This wide, dirt fire road begins the first half of this journey, which is characterized by sustained climbs and scenic overlooks. Without much shade, this stretch can be hot and dry, so plan accordingly with water and sun protection, or get an early start before the crowds and have a better shot at spotting some of the elusive wildlife in the park!
After just under a mile on the South Ridge Trail
, the grade begins to ease up as you've gotten a great warm up to continue your ascent. Fun fact, this trail marks the northern boundary of the Water Canyon Natural Preserve, which is a biological corridor to help animals such as bobcats and mountain lions maintain their large habitats by providing a bridge between open spaces.
At just under 1.5 miles, the South Ridge Trail
will continue climbing to the left (southwest) while the Telegraph - S. Ridge Connector
will head to the right (west/northwest). Turn right here for the final push to the high point of this hike (1,370') before dropping into the Four Corners rest area.
The Four Corners is one of the trail hubs of the park with access to six different sections of trail. For folks looking for more, this is a great spot to continue your journey. However, for this featured hike, head back on the Telegraph - S. Ridge Connector
the way you came, this time looking for a left-hand turn onto the Telegraph Canyon Trail
This ridgeline path will return back to Telegraph Canyon Rd on a more northerly, albeit parallel, trail to the South Ridge Trail
. Once back at Telegraph Canyon Rd., turn left to head north back to your vehicle.