- Home - Hiking Trails - Orange County Hiking Hike the Pumpkin Rock Trail
The hike to Pumpkin Rock is one of those things you just have to do at least once. It's obviously a great Halloween hike, and there are lots of photo opportunities. The trails to Pumpkin Rock can be confusing — this guide gives you the main route up, complete with parking and bathrooms.
1.2 miles (1.9 km)
Climb, Confusing Trails
A Giant Pumpkin!
Early Morning or Evening
Pumpkin Hike Trail Hike Trail Maps
Google Maps trailhead:
Norco Animal Control Shelter , Norco, CA, 92860, USA The Pumpkin Rock Trail is about 1 hour east of downtown Los Angeles, and about 1 hour away from most points in Orange County and Palm Springs. The hike to Pumpkin Rock starts at the equestrian center, then makes it's way up Norco Hills to the big painted pumpkin. The hike is not long, but it is steep. Take your time, the heat can make it seem harder than it actually is. Interactive Map Pumpkin Hike Trail Hike Map Downloads View a Printable PDF Hike Map Download the Hike GPX File Gear for the Pumpkin Hike Trail Hike The best hydration daypack out there. The CamelBak Fourteener has been perfect on hikes of all distances (including Mt Whitney and Cactus to Clouds). It's light, has plenty of room for super-food snacks, extra layers, hiking gear, and comes with a 3 liter water bladder. I also like the raised sweat pads on the back that keep your back dry. It's the perfect blend of high-tech, durability, and simplicity. I've got hundreds of hours on it and still love it. CamelBak Fourteener Reviews My favorite hiking boot of all time. The La Sportiva Synthesis (for men and women) are waterproof, super-light, have incredible grip, and won a Backpacker Magazine Editor's Choice Award ( my review here). I've gone through a lot of boots and these are my favorite. They feel like comfortable sneakers with the protection of hiking boots. La Sportiva Hiking Boot Reviews Don't hike without this in your backpack. It's a GPS emergency beacon and can save your life ( more on that here). On the trail, you're often out of cell phone range, and even something as simple as a twisted ankle could become a life and death situation. This beacon works where cell phones don't and is the size of a fist. Just press a button and help is on the way. Your life is worth every penny. ACR GPS Beacon Reviews And don't forget to My complete list of hiking gear and survival kit contents is here, check it out! check out REI outlet for great gear at half price. Pumpkin Hike Trail Hike Directions What to Expect There are a few ways to hike to Pumpkin Rock. Norco Hills has dozens of trails and they all seem to criss-cross and intertwine with each other. This route is preferable because it has plenty of parking, the trail is easy to follow without any scrambles, and there are bathrooms nearby. Bathrooms are 2 minutes away from the trailhead parking at Pikes Peak Park (111 Sixth St, Norco, CA 92860). Norco is know as “Horsetown USA” and the horses allegedly outnumber the people 2:1. As you drive to the trailhead, you’ll see ranches, feed stores, hitching posts in front of businesses, and probably a few people on horses. There’s a horse fair, rodeos, and other equestrian events at the center where you park for the hike. It’s also home to a shelter for large animals. When wildfires hit Southern California and big animals get trapped, this shelter often airlifts them out with a helicopter and sling, bringing them here. As you can guess, people use these trails with horses. And there’s mountain bikes. Stay aware and give them a wide berth. There’s no shade, and it can get really hot here. Bring water and use sunscreen. In some respects Pumpkin Rock is a family-friendly hike. The Pumpkin is fun to see, and the hike is short enough that most kids can do it. But the rocks themselves are littered with broken glass and trash. The rock sometimes has inappropriate graffiti. So it’s a mixed bag. The pumpkin has been around since the mid-1990s, and is painted in the style of Jack Skellington, the “Pumpkin King” of Halloween Town from . The Nightmare Before Christmas Two locals repaint the rocks when it gets too covered in grafitti. Some hikers have also been known to go out, buy paint, and give it a touch up too. If you want to extend the hike, Norco Hills is full of trails. It’s all pretty contained, so feel free to just wander. I had cell phone reception and just fired up Google Maps satellite view whenever I needed help. If you just want to go a little longer, I just recommend continuing on the main trail on Norco Ridge (more on that below). Turn by Turn Directions to Pumpkin Rock Follow the directions to the trailhead address, which is the equestrian center. There’s plenty of parking. Just be mindful of a few “no parking” signs along some sections. There’s also more parking closer to the equestrian center, which is the huge structure to the right of the parking area. The trailhead is right at the entrance to the parking lot. There’s a sign for Norco Hills that’s seen better days. Not much in terms of maps or signage in the park, but most folks will have cell reception and can navigate with Google Maps satellite view. Follow the wide trail as it makes it’s way up and to the right. Avoid smaller side trails and stay on the wider, more established path. At around 0.2 miles you’ll see a larger trail to the left. Hike to the left here. If you were to have gone straight at that last intersection, you would have seen these cool horse sculptures. You can make the small detour on the way back to check them out. After the intersection, the trail heads uphill and is well defined. Shortly after that, there’s an intersection of a few trails around a boulder field. Hike straight to the right. The trail makes it’s way uphill again. At about 0.3 miles, hike to the left toward Pumpkin Rock, which you can see in the background. The trail heads uphill with some narrower sections. Watch your footing on the loose sand. Avoid the small side trails and stay on the more worn path. At the next big intersection with boulders, head straight through and up the final stretch of hill. This is the steepest section of the hike. At last! The zipper-mouthed monument! Here you are, Pumpkin Rock. Hopefully the graffiti won’t be too bad. One time I was here and someone had strategically painted a certain piece of anatomy next to it’s mouth. The views of Norco and Corona are pretty spectacular too. If you want to get more hiking in, just follow the ridge trail that continues past Pumpkin Rock. You can use Google Maps to navigate here. It’s all pretty contained. If you do explore more, keep your eyes open for wildlife like road runners, rattlesnakes, squirrels, and hawks. To get back, just go down the way you came up. Happy trails, trick-or-treaters! Pumpkin Hike Trail Hike Video Please subscribe to my YouTube channel here!
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Read More A quick note. These directions are meant as a guide for the hike, and not a definitive source. Conditions change, and the information here can be different based on time of day, weather, season, etc. There can be small side trails that you might see but I missed. I have made every effort to include all the information you need to complete the hike successfully. I recommend using this guide in conjunction with a map, GPX file, common sense, and call to the ranger station or park office. If you do the hike and notice something has changed, please contact me and I will update the guide.
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