Sitton Peak Hike
|In This Guide|
|Distance||9.2 miles (14.8 km)|
|Hike Time||4:30 Hours (Total)|
|Total Ascent (?)||1,960 feet (597m)|
|Highest Elevation||3,273 feet (998m)|
|Fees & Permits||Parking Fee|
|Park Contact||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 is a “hike” hike and you should bring hiking gear, although you can probably get away with fitness clothes and water.
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 binoculars or a camera with a long lens if you have one.
Here’s the gear that I personally use, have tested, and recommend for this hike*.
My best lightweight pack for hikes between 3-10+ hours. I use mine with the 3L water bladder from Osprey.
You can text, SOS, and get weather in the backcountry where your cell phone doesn’t work. Literally a life-saver.
Modern materials mean you get the protection of a traditional hiking boot (waterproof, etc.) with feel of a sneaker.
If you’re not using poles yet, you should be. This model takes a beating, is light, and is super comfortable.
I use a light inner toe sock and then a top-quality outer sock to prevent blisters.
Probars are great: no preservatives, vegan, low-GI, compact, and tasty. Put good fuel in your body.
If you’re hiking in the backcountry it makes sense to have a decent emergency kit and some basic gear to spend the night in a pinch.Full HikingGuy Gear List
* 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 REI link and buy gear, I get a small commission that helps offset website expenses. There is no cost to you.
Also → Big Sale at REI On Now:
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.
Sitton Peak Hike Map Downloads
Download the Hike GPX File
View a Printable PDF Hike Map
Sitton Peak Hike Directions
Subscribe to HikingGuy on YouTube
Get My Quarterly Newsletter
Turn by Turn Hiking Directions
Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.