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.
Better Than a Selfie Stick
Part of the fun of a hike is taking pictures, and a flexible JOBY smartphone tripod takes it to the next level. You can use it as a selfie stick, as a regular tripod, but more importantly, as a flexible tripod that can attach to tree branches and other objects. It’s not expensive, and it’s something you can use when not hiking too.
Latest Price – Amazon
Your Biggest Asset If You Get Lost
If something goes wrong and you get lost, sprain your ankle, or get delayed, you might be caught out after dark. And one of the top items that search and rescue departments recommend you carry is a light. Now smartphones have lights, but they drain the battery quickly. It’s better to invest in an expensive yet high-quality headlamp like the Black Diamond Astro 250. It takes AAA batteries, can last 200 hours, and has an emergency strobe. Carry it with you off the trail to use in emergencies as well.
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REI Membership Saves You Money Forever
Have you shopped at REI before? They have all kinds of active clothes and gear, from fitness, to hiking, to snow sports, to casual wear. It’s an overall great place to shop (here’s why) and they offer a $20 membership that gets you 10% back on everything for life, along with frequent coupons, discounts, and member-only sales. It’s a no-brainer.
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Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated September 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?
If you are a hardcore hiker and/or hike in extreme conditions, I recommend getting a dedicated GPS like a GPSMAP 66sr or 66i, or a wrist-based GPS with maps like the Garmin Fenix 6. If you only hike in fair weather and a touchscreen is fine, or just want a solid tool, I highly recommend downloading the smartphone app, Gaia GPS. It’s a piece of cake to use and very powerful, just make sure your phone is in airplane mode so the battery doesn’t drain. You can also check for wildfires, weather, snow, and choose from dozens of map types with a premium membership (HikingGuy readers get a big discount here). Note that I also carry a paper map with me in case the phone dies or gets smashed.
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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Turn by Turn Directions
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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