The Sitton Peak hike offers great 360 views of the Santa Ana Mountains, San Diego County, Orange County, and Catalina on a clear day. The hike to Sitton Peak 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 (3,273ft) is one of the high peaks in the southern part of Cleveland National Forest. It has great prominence with 360 degree views. It also straddles two watersheds, the San Mateo Creek, which drains out by San Clemente, and the San Juan Creek, which drains out at Dana Point.
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.
In the summer this hike can get very hot. Leave early to avoid the worst of it.
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.
There are bathrooms in the parking lot, but not on the trail.
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.
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.
Turn by Turn Hiking Directions
An easy way to give back is to simply pick up any trash you see on the trail.
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.