Ranger Trail starts at the Five Tables parking area off Stephen Mather Drive on the North side of South Mountain, West of Kiwanis Trail
. You can access Ranger Trail from Las Lomitas, Derby Loop, Bajada Trail
, or National Trail
It starts out as a very gradual incline and gets progressively steeper as you continue up the trail, although it is all fairly manageable. It is not as steep as Holbert Trail
or Mormon Trail
, but steep and long enough to make most hikers slow down. It is very exposed to the sun the entire way, although depending on the time of day, you may find a little shade on the upper portion of the trail. It is also much more rocky than other trails in the are—more typical of other mountain parks in the area with lots of smaller, sharper rocks rather than the large boulders and slabs that are common throughout most of South Mountain.
The first section of the trail is below the road that goes to the summit. Be extremely cautious crossing this road as drivers and cyclists typically move pretty fast and have varying degrees of attentiveness to the road.
From there, you'll have a few switchbacks as you climb up to meet with National Trail
. The intersection with National Trail
is not well-marked, and it will seem like you can only go one way (left). The views to the west from the top are pretty great—the Estrellas in the distance are pretty rugged and gorgeous.