sitton peak hike

Sitton Peak Hike

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.

Rating:
4.5 / 5
Distance:
9.2 miles (14.8 km)
Time:
4:30 hours
Difficulty:
Moderate
Climbing:
2200 ft (671 m)
Trail Condition:
Marked Trails
Challenges:
Climbing
People:
Moderate
Known For:
Great views
Best Time:
Late afternoon
Dogs:
Leashed
Bathrooms:
Yes
Parking:
Fee
Hike Weather:

Sitton Peak Hike Trail Maps

Google Maps trailhead:
San Juan Loop Trailhead, Trabuco Canyon, CA, 92679, USA

Hike Location

stilton peak hike location
The trailhead for the Sitton Peak hike is about 1 hour south of Riverside, about 45 minutes east of Newport Beach, and about 45 minutes north of Oceanside.

3D Hike Map

stilton peak hike 3d map
The trail winds up the spines of the Santa Ana Mountains to the highest point in this area, Sitton Peak. Large parts of the hike have great views of the San Mateo Wilderness.

Hike Elevation Profile

stilton peak hike elevation
The hike is a moderate uphill with some level sections to catch your breath. The last part of the hike to Sitton Peak is the steepest, but is not too long.

Interactive Hike Map

Sitton Peak Hike Map Downloads

Download a GPX file to use on your GPS device. GPS devices are great to plan and follow routes, and there are tons of free electronic hiking maps that you can use. But don't rely solely on electronic navigation, always have a paper backup. Print out the PDF below, get a topo map, and/or print these directions.

View a Printable PDF Hike MapDownload the Hike GPX File

Sitton Peak Hike Directions

sitton peak hike

Do you have the right gear for this hike? Check out all the gear and clothing that I personally use and recommend. I've tested it all and cut the junk out so you don't waste your money.

What to Expect on the Hike

Turn by Turn Hiking Directions

sitton peak hike parking
The parking lot is well marked and offers a lot of spots.
sitton peak hike bathrooms
There are bathrooms in the parking lot. Nothing fancy.
candy store on sitton peak hike
Head across the street from the lot. The Candy Store has food and sells one day parking passes if you don’t have a National Parks Pass.
sitton peak hike trailhead
The trailhead is just to the right (west) of the candy store.
Bear Canyon Trailhead sign
The Bear Canyon Trailhead sign marks the start of the hike.
hike notice board
Take a look at the notice board before you start. Always good to check on trail conditions or closures.
hike sign in box
After the notice board you’ll see a sign in box.
signing in for sitton peak hike
The hike is free (aside from the parking) – you just need to sign in.
sitton peak hike climbs
The trail is well marked and starts to climb gradually.
boulders on sitton peak hike
The first part of the hike has some awesome boulders.
ign for the San Mateo Canyon Wilderness
Just under a mile, you’ll reach the sign for the San Mateo Canyon Wilderness.
sitton peak hike trail junction
Just over a mile, there’s a trail junction. Head right on the Bear Canyon trail.
sitton peak hike trail sign
Here’s a closeup of the sign at the junction. These white trail signs are found throughout the hike.
sitton peak hike
The trail climbs gradually again. You’ll pass through oak groves and some shaded areas.
sitton peak hike junction
At around 2 miles, you reach a big junction. Make the hard right.
sitton peak hike sign
Here’s a closeup of the sign at the junction. You’re heading to 4 corners.
sitton peak trail
You’ll see Sitton Peak in the distance. This section of trail is level and a good time to catch your breath. As you get higher, the oak disappears and gives way to chaparral.
4 corners
At about 3.2 miles you reach 4 corners, which is actually 5 corners. Make the very hard right.
sitton peak trail
This is the start of that very hard right turn.
sitton peak sign
Here’s a closeup of the sign. Head toward Sitton Peak.
views of the high peaks to the north
The trail starts to climb again and you’ll get views of the high peaks to the north.
sitton peak trail
This part of the trail is more primitive and overgrown, but still well marked.
sitton peak hike trail
Just after 4 miles there’s a few trails splitting off to lower peaks. Continue straight through. The trail will start to head downhill.
sitton peak hike descends
The trail descends. It doesn’t seem like the right way, but it is.
sitton peak
As the trail goes down, you’ll see the path to Sitton Peak looming in front of you.
sitton peak hike right turn
This junction is easy to miss. Just after 4.3 miles, make the right onto the much smaller trail.
sitton peak trail
This is the most challenging part of the hike. The trail is small and not well marked. It also splits apart and comes back together many times. Look for footprints and keep heading up.
sitton peak
Eventually trail levels out and you’ll see the peak in front of you.
sitton peak sign
There’s a cool little sign marking Sitton Peak. Sometimes it gets stolen, so if you’re not seeing it, it might be in some jerk’s garage.
sitton peak hike USGS marker and trail log
There’s also a USGS marker and trail log. Feel free to sign your name or not. It’s pretty fun to read the old entries in the summit log – there are some funny ones in there.
360 views from sitton peak
You’ll have 360 views from the peak. Take your time and soak it all in.
cris hazzard on sitton peak hike
Grab your selfies and head back down the way you came. Enjoy the hike!

Sitton Peak Hike Video

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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.