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Tin Mine Canyon Trail Guide

Tin Mine Canyon Trail Guide

In This Guide
  • Video and Turn-by-Turn Directions for Tin Mine Canyon Trail
  • Where Is the Tin Mine Canyon Trail
  • Insider Tips & Recommendations for the Hike
Total Distance (?)5 miles (8.1 km)
Other Options 3 Miles to the Mine & Back
Hike Time2 Hours (Total)
Difficulty (?)Easy
Total Ascent (?)820 feet (250m)
Highest Elevation1,720 feet (524m)
Fees & PermitsFree
Dogs AllowedLeashed
Alerts & Closures (?)Cleveland National Forest - Trabuco Ranger District
Park Phone951-736-1811
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Hiking the Tin Mine Canyon Trail takes you into another world. You’ll park your car in suburban SoCal, but end up in a lush, shaded gully alongside a mountain stream. On the way you get to check out the old tin mine shafts, over 100 years old and once part of the search for the purest tin in the world. The Tin Mine Canyon Trail is relatively short, easy, shaded, and great for the family.

Where is the Tin Mine Canyon Trail?

Parking for the Tin Mine Canyon Trail is easy and free. The hike starts on the Skyline Trail, and there is a lot of curbside parking by the trailhead. Just know that this trailhead is popular, and you’ll probably have to walk at least a few minutes on the sidewalk to get to the trailhead. Use this trailhead address:
Skyline Drive Trail, Skyline Dr, Corona, CA 92882

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There’s plenty of parking along the street, but it does get full.
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The trail starts at the bridge in the middle of the parking area. Look for the Skyline Drive Trail sign.
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There’s a water refill but no bathrooms.

Gear For the Hike

This is a pretty easy hike, and you don’t need anything more than light hiking gear or fitness clothes to do it. There can be poison oak and overgrown parts of the trail, so having long pants is smart. There can also be gnats and flies; put some insect repellant on. After a rain, there are stream crossings where your feet can get wet, but most of the time the creek is dry. Bring at least 1L of water to stay hydrated.

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Griptightone Gpod Tree

Joby GripTight Smartphone Flexible Tripod
Take your selfie stick game to the next level. 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.

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Astro Headlamp

Black Diamond Astro 250
It’s 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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Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated November 2021.

My November 2021 Top Gear Picks

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.

Tin Mine Canyon Trail Maps

Tin Mine Canyon Trail Directions 2
Some sections of the trail can be overgrown, but it’s always pretty easy to spot where it continues if you keep going.

Overall the hike is easy to follow and straightforward. Some sections of the trail split apart and rejoin each other, and I’ll point them out in the directions below, but you are in Tin Mine Canyon, the options for getting lost are limited.

Click Here To View

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.

Gaiagps

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.

Elevation Profile

Tin Mine Canyon Elevation
This profile looks worse than it is. The hike is a very gradual uphill with no steep sections. It’s also shaded as you make your way into Tin Mine Canyon.

3D Map

Tin Mine Canyon 3d Map
You’ll start on the Skyline Drive Trail, skirting a residential area, and then leave it behind to start the Tin Mine Canyon Trail. From there you head into the canyon as it narrows.

The Tin Mine Canyon Story

Interior View Of The Santa Ana Tin Mine, Orange County, March 20, 1903
Here’s what a tin mine in the Santa Ana Mountains looked like 1903. At the time, tin was booming like gold and everyone wanted to find it. Photo USC

In the 1800s and 1900s, mining was basically free money that you could access with some elbow grease. Thousands flocked to California to mine for gold but found other minerals that they could sell, like silver and tin. The Santa Ana Mountains were no exception, with lots of mining occurring (ever think about how “Silverado Canyon” got its name?). In 1859, what was to become California’s largest tin mine, the Cajalco Tin Mine, opened about 7 miles east of Tin Mine Canyon.

Ben Harrison With Tin
The tin found in this area was said to be some of the purest in the world. It was so important that in 1891, President Benjamin Harrison came out to have his picture taken with a stack of tin.

This is where milk comes into the story, which used to be delivered in wooden buckets. The Department of Health decreed that milk had to be covered and sterilized, and tin can packaging (which you still see on things like Campbells Soup) became a thing. Knowing that a productive tin mine was only a few miles away, the Borden Milk Company dug dozens of exploratory tunnels searching for another lode of tin. It never happened, and the mine shafts you see on this hike are just part of that exploratory effort.

Tin Mine Canyon Eagle Logo
The Borden Milk Company and the Santa Ana Tin Mining Company, partially owned by Borden, both shared the eagle as their logo. The eagle is long gone, replaced by a smiling cow, and the tin cans have been replaced with steel and other materials.

Tin Mine Canyon Hike Directions

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Video Directions

Turn by Turn Directions

Tin Mine Canyon Trail Directions 4
Start on the paved path, which is the start of the Skyline Drive Trail.
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The beginning of the path is paved as it skirts around a residential area.
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On your left are some great eroded rock formations, similar to what you get to hike though at a spot like Annie’s Canyon.
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When the pavement ends, pass through the gate to continue on the (now dirt) Skyline Drive Trail.
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Keep hiking up the dirt road. In front of you is Tin Mine Canyon.
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When Skyline Drive makes the sharp right and starts to climb uphill, go straight and look for the official start of the Tin Mine Canyon Trail.
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There’s a board at the start of the trail. Hike straight past the sign to start on the singletrack.
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There’s also a trail post here, which is the only one that you’ll see until you reach the end.
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The trail immediately feels different from the previous stretch as you hike into the narrowing canyon.
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There are a few areas like this one that split and rejoin each other. It doesn’t matter which branch you take.
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You’ll start seeing more oaks, sycamores, and shrubs as you hike along the stream.
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When you see a trail heading 90 degrees to the left, go straight, continuing up the canyon.
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You’ll pass a bench under a tree.
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And then three benches.
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And then the canyon narrows, with cliff walls on the side.
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And at about 1.7 miles in, keep your eyes open for an old post from an interpretive display. The mine is back to the left from here (and easy to walk past if you’re not paying attention).
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Turn back from the post to see the mine shaft.
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Here’s what the mine looks like inside. FYI I took this picture at the gate. I didn’t go inside.
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Keep hiking past the mine, and in a minute you’ll climb a small rise. At the top, look back for another shaft.
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Notice the shaft up and to the left in the picture.
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Continue up the trail, which is now narrower and lusher.
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You’ll criss-cross over the stream several times. If there’s water, look for newts and salamanders, which are common here.
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Towards the end of the trail is a small log crossing on the creek.
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And then you’ll scramble up some rocks.
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And then reach the “trail end” sign, which marks the official end of the Tin Mine Canyon trail.

Some folks continue up the canyon, which you can follow up to Skyline Drive or Black Star Canyon Road. However, the trail eventually disappears if you continue, and you will need to have experience in off-trail navigation and scrambling to complete the hike. As you can imagine, the area past this point gets more than its fair share of rescues. Only attempt to continue if you are confident in your skills and experience.

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Otherwise just turn around and go back the way you came. That’s the hike!

This guide last updated on November 4, 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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