Hike the Mt Rubidoux Trail (Riverside)
|In This Guide|
|Total Distance (?)||3 miles (4.8 km)|
|Hike Time||1-2 Hours (Total)|
|Total Ascent (?)||560 feet (171m)|
|Highest Elevation||1,332 feet (406m)|
|Fees & Permits||Free|
|Alerts & Closures (?)||Mount Rubidoux Park|
Although not a wilderness hike, the Mt Rubidoux Trail, nestled right in the middle of Riverside, CA, still has lots to offer and is worth a visit. A gradual, paved, family-friendly trail winds up to the top of Mt Rubidoux, where you are treated to panoramic views of the big mountain ranges, as well as attractions some historical attractions like the Serra Cross, the giant flag, and the Peace Bridge. Now there are many trails in Mt Rubidoux Park, but I’ll show you the popular (and probably easiest) route to the top.
And if you’re a hardcore hiker and are considering this hike but don’t like that it’s paved, know that John Muir did this hike (really).
Where to Park for Mt Rubidoux
Official parking for the Mt Rubidoux Trail is about a five-minute walk away from the trailhead, at Ryan Bonaminio Park. There is no parking on the street in front of the trailhead. Use this trailhead address:
Ryan Bonaminio Park, 5000 Tequesquite Ave, Riverside, CA 92506
Parking at Ryan Bonaminio Park is free.
Mt Rubidoux Park is open from dawn to dusk.
Gear for the Hike
This is in no way a technical hike, and you’re fine with fitness clothes and sneakers. The hike is very exposed, and I generally bring 1L of water and wear sunscreen. I’d highly recommend a camera for all the incredible views.
Altra Lone Peak 5
For most people, the Altra Lone Peak is a solid choice that will leave your feet feeling great at the end of any hike. The feel is cushy and light, and if it had a car equivalent, this would be a Cadillac or Mercedes Sedan. The grip is great and they’re reasonably durable for this type of trail runner, which I think is better in most conditions than a hiking boot, and here’s why. The downside of this shoe is that it won’t last as long as something like the Moab 2 (see alternate footwear choices at the bottom of my gear page). I’ve been using mine for many miles and my feet always feel great. Watch my video explaining why they are a great shoe here.
Latest Price on Women’s Shoe – REI | Amazon
Latest Price on Men’s Shoe – REI | Amazon
Stay Safe Out of Cell Phone Range
If you’re not familiar with the Garmin InReach technology, it allows you to send and receive text messages where you don’t have cell phone signals. You can also get weather reports and trigger an SOS to emergency responders. Even if you don’t have an emergency, sending a quick message telling a loved one that you’re okay or are running late is well worth the cost. The Garmin InReach Mini (REI | Amazon | My Review) fits in your palm and weighs next to nothing.
Gaia GPS Mapping App
Smartphones are not backcountry instruments, but almost everyone has one today. And they all have GPS onboard. So I recommend getting a good GPS hiking app like Gaia GPS that supports offline maps. Just make sure to put your phone in airplane mode so the battery doesn’t drain. GaiaGPS not only has smartphone and tablet apps, but also an online planning tool. You can drag the GPX hike tracks from my (or any) guides into the online map and they will sync to your phone. You can also check for wildfires, weather, snow, and choose from dozens of map types with a premium membership (HikingGuy readers get up to 40% off here). Note that I also carry a paper map with me in case the phone dies or gets smashed.
Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated June 2021.
No company pays me to promote or push a product, all the gear you see here is gear I use and recommend. If you click an a link and buy gear, I get a small commission that helps keep the website ad and promotion free. There is no cost to you.
Mt Rubidoux Trail Maps
While there are many trails in Mt Rubidoux Park, many of them dirt, the main loop trail is all paved. If you’ve never done the hike before, I recommend starting with the official loop and adding some side trails if you want to explore. The park is small and has no tree cover; it’s tough to get lost, if not impossible.
Explore Map on CalTopoView a Printable PDF Hike MapDownload the Hike GPX File
If you try to download the GPX file and your browser adds a “.txt” or “.xml” extension to it, simply rename it as a “.gpx” file.
How are you going to navigate this hike?
To start, you should always have a paper map and compass. And it helps to print this guide out or save it on your phone. I highly recommend a GPS as well. I use the Garmin Fenix 6 Smart GPS watch ( REI | Amazon | My Review) with maps (or the more affordable Garmin Instinct). The GPS smartwatch is nice because it’s rugged, works if your phone dies, and also has a billion other features like sleep tracking, workout recording, etc.
Making the Hike Interesting
- Mt Rubidoux became a park in 1906 when Frank Miller (the force behind the famous Mission Inn in Riverside) and Henry E. Huntington (who you might know from the Huntington Library or Huntington Beach) purchased the land.
- The Serra Cross (the big cross at the top) has had its share of controversy. A group advocating the separation of church and state got into a legal battle with the city, since the cross was on public land. The city ended up selling the land under the cross to a private organization called “Totally Mt. Rubidoux” which now cares for it. And in recent years, the cross, named after early missionary Junipero Serra, has occasionally been vandalized as Serra’s legacy is reexamined.
- My favorite attraction, aside from the views, is the Peace Tower and Friendship Bridge, built in 1925 to honor of Frank Miller. The style is based on a bridge in Alcántara, Spain, and it fits in nicely with the historic, Spanish-influenced vibe of the area.
Mt Rubidoux Trail Directions
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This guide last updated on January 13, 2021. Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.
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