Sitton Peak Hike
|In This Guide|
|Distance||9.2 miles (14.8 km)|
|Time||4:30 Hours (Total Time)|
|Total Climbing||2,200 feet (671m)|
|Highest Elevation||3,273 feet (998m)|
|Park Name||Trabuco Ranger District|
The Sitton Peak hike offers great 360 views of the Santa Ana Mountains, San Diego County, Orange County, and Catalina on a clear day. Sitton Peak (3,273ft) is one of the high peaks in the southern part of Cleveland National Forest, and this hike is much easier than the hike to Saddleback Mountain, with views that are comparable. The trail has some flat sections to catch your breath, making it a great hike for beginners.
Sitton Peak is also unique in that it straddles two watersheds, the San Mateo Creek, which drains out by San Clemente, and the San Juan Creek, which drains out at Dana Point. There are also lots of opportunities for wildlife spotting on this hike.
Getting to the Sitton Peak Trailhead
Use this trailhead address: San Juan Loop Trailhead, Trabuco Canyon, CA, 92679, USA.
There’s a sizable parking lot with primitive bathrooms. The Candy Shop across the street from the parking lot has snacks and drinks for sale. They also have maps, but I wouldn’t depend on them as your only means of navigation.
You need a parking pass for the Cleveland National Forest. I use the affordable National Parks Pass, which gets me in every national park, national monument, and national forest. You can also use an (Southern California only) Adventure Pass, or buy a $5 day permit from the Candy Store across the street from the parking lot.
I usually do this one early to beat the crowds and heat.
Gear for the Hike
This whole area is a great place to spot wildlife. If you hike on a summer weekday and keep your eyes open, you’re sure to spot some reptiles sunning. I’ve spotted red diamond rattlesnakes, horned lizards, deer, quail, falcons, and hawks. If you do encounter wildlife, give it a wide berth if it hasn’t run away from you already. Bring a camera with a long lens if you have one.
This is a “hike” hike and you should bring hiking gear, although you can probably get away with fitness clothes and water. Here’s what I would recommend:
- Hiking boots
- Good daypack with 3L of water – in the summer it can get hot
- Trekking poles
- GPS devices
- Emergency beacons
My Top Gear Picks
Do you have the right hiking gear? Will it stand up to the test? I waste lots of money testing hiking gear every year so that you don’t have to. My gear picks are solid choices that will serve you well on the trail. I don’t do sponsored or paid reviews, I just the share actual gear that I use all the time that’s made the cut. Here are my top picks:
- Garmin InReach Mini Emergency Beacon – Hiking out of cell phone range? Make sure you have one of these two-way satellite texting devices in case your hike doesn’t go as planned. You can read my full review here.
- Injinji Sock Liners With Darn Tough Hiking Socks – This combo is a great way to avoid blisters out on the trail. I have some insider-hiking tips for avoiding blisters here. Pair them with modern, high-tech hiking boots (for women and men) and your feet with thank you.
- Garmin Fenix 5x Plus – It’s a little pricey, but man do I love this thing. Not only does it have all the topo maps and navigation tools on my wrist, but it also acts as a long battery life, rugged, outdoors version of an Apple Watch. Track your workouts, sleep, heart rate, all that stuff.
I have lots of other great, sponsor-free, trail tested gear picks on my “best gear” page.
See My Full Gear List
Sitton Peak Trail Maps
While there’s some steep climbing on the last stretch to Sitton Peak, the trails are generally well marked and there are level sections to catch your breath. It’s a great hike for beginners and intermediate hikers.
I highly recommend bringing a good paper map with you, and then using it in conjunction with a GPS device. You can see the navigation gear that I use here (I’m currently using the Fenix 5x Plus and love it). Just download the GPX file below and load it onto your GPS.
Many people also print out this web page for the turn-by-turn images. And if you really want to get tricky, YouTube Premium lets you download videos for offline use, so you can download the hike video and save it.
Download the Hike GPX File
View a Printable PDF Hike Map
Sitton Peak Hike Directions
Subscribe to HikingGuy on YouTube
Turn by Turn Hiking Directions
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