Suburban trails often make great mid-week hikes. They are usually local and fairly short, making them well-suited for a quick after-work hike. A longer loop hike in-town is almost unheard of. Until now.
The loop begins near the eastern end of Christianitos Road in San Clemente (map). We parked on the street, but pay attention to the street signs. At the end of the street we picked up the Christianitos Trail, heading north.
The trail is a broad fire road with homes on your left and undeveloped open space on your right. The trail is mixed used, and there were a few mountain bikers, runners and walkers out enjoying the quiet trail.
At the 1.5 mile mark, we skirted the cul-de-sac of Via Belleza, then rounded a large water tank. From here, we followed a ridge along one of the most scenic and remote sections of the trail — where I took the photo at the beginning of this story.
There is another narrow ridge that runs west from the Christianitos Trail. As you can see here, there is a small cave on the south-facing side of the ridge.
At the 2.4 mile mark, we reached Avenida Talega. From here, we climbed up a curving, paved access road toward a trio of water tanks.
At the 3.0 mile mark, we headed due west on the Talega Trail. After another 0.5 miles, we reached the highpoint of this trail — about 50 feet shy of 1000′ above sea level, with views to the Pacific Ocean just a few miles away.
At 5.7 miles, the Talega Trail comes to a junction with the Forster Ridgeline Trail and the Prima Deshecha Trail. Forster Ridgeline heads towards Camino de los Mares and one of my favorite trails — one I call the Roller Coaster Ridge. But for this loop, we headed down the hill, south on the Prima Deshecha Trail.
This trail weaves along high voltage powerlines, which I really didn’t like. It would be fine for a trail run, but it wasn’t the most pleasant hiking environment. You could hear the buzzing from the power lines overhead. And then I ran across this creepy critter poking out one of the cracks in the ground.
At the 6.5 mile mark, the trail met up with Calle Saluda. It runs parallel with the street toward the west. We crossed Calle Saluda at the intersection with Avenida La Pata, then picked up the trail again.
At this point, the trail is more of a suburban greenbelt path than a true hiking trail. Some portions are dirt fire roads; others paved bike paths. At least we weren’t so close to the power lines.
At 7.25 miles, the trail passed under Avenida Hermosa, continuing toward Avenida Pico. Half a mile later we were at the bottom of the valley, and headed to the left to follow what was now a bike path up the hill towards the housing development looming above us. Here the trail becomes a pleasant suburban walk along the Talega development and parallel to Avenida Pico.
At this point we had a choice: we could either continue along the sidewalk along Avenida Pico back to the beginning, or take the longer and slightly more “wild” route. We opted for wild.
At the 8.5 mile mark, we cross Avenida Pico at Avenida Hermosa, and doubled back toward the coast. The Prima Deshecha Trail actually winds around a small industrial complex with offices and skirts the Bella Collina Golf Club.
At 10.5 miles we reached Avenida Pico (again), crossing and following the trail around the southeast side of an apartment complex. Finally, we were back where we started.
Would I hike this route again? Probably not. It’s an okay hike, but is well suited as a long trail run. For me, I would rather drive a bit further for a long hike and have more of a wilderness experience. What I would do instead is the Christianitos Trail on the eastern edge of this loop from Avenida Pico to Avenida Talega as an out-and-back route. This would make for a 4.7 mile hike with some of the best scenery from this loop.
Got a better modification? Let me know in the comments!
Christianitos Trail to Prima Deshecha Trail Map
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Tour de Talega Tips
- Even though this is a suburban hike, bring plenty of water. There are some places where you can “hike out” to a market, but better to be prepared.
- Don’t hike it — run it! For me, this was too close to suburbia to spend hiking, but it would make a great training run. If you’re into trail running or training for a half- or full marathon, this could make a great long run option.
- What could make it worthwhile? Earning a cold beer from nearby Left Coast Brewery. It’s close enough that you could take a short detour there.
San Clemente Weather Forecast
Friday 02/15 70%
Becoming cloudy with occasional rain during the afternoon. High 59F. Winds WSW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 70%.
Saturday 02/16 10%
Partly cloudy skies. High 57F. Winds WNW at 15 to 25 mph. Winds could occasionally gust over 40 mph.
Sunday 02/17 60%
Chance of Rain
Overcast with rain showers at times. High 54F. Winds W at 15 to 25 mph. Chance of rain 60%.
Monday 02/18 0%
A mainly sunny sky. High 57F. Winds NW at 5 to 10 mph.