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Small Peak in Robinson Ranch

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Trail Details
Distance: 3 miles
Time: 2 hours
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation gain: 1,142 ft
When to go: Year round
Small Peak is the name my friend John gave this knoll in the foothills of the Cleveland National Forest behind Orange County’s Robinson Ranch. This hike is a 3 mile out-and-back route that climbs up to this little peak, which in spite of its name, has some big views over much of Orange County. At 3 miles, this trail isn’t particularly long, but it climbs over 1,000 vertical feet, making it a great workout.

One of my hiking friends introduced me to this trail on the Friday after Thanksgiving, and I figure I burned off at least part of the feast I ate the day before.

The start of this trail is non-obvious. We parked on a bend in a residential neighborhood then hoofed it up a concrete culvert. Not an auspicious beginning to the hike, but my friend John assured us this was the best way.

Yes, we are actually take a shortcut up that culvert

The trail meanders through a valley, then quickly winds up and around the hill to reach the ridge-line.

At this point, most of the trail is double-track and well defined. But watch closely for a narrower trail leading off along the ridge to the right. That’s our trail.

Looking up the mountain

The trail gets steep at times, and the gravel can make your footing treacherous. Trekking poles are highly recommended!

Trekking poles are useful on this trail

Looking back down the narrow ridge-line trail, you are rewarded with amazing views across much of south Orange County. On this clear day, we even saw the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island on the horizon!

Looking back down the trail

Small Peak Panorama

As you can see from this panorama, it doesn’t take long for you to feel miles away, even in Orange County. Whether you use this trail as a great, quick, fresh-air cardio workout or simply an opportunity to reset your clock, Small Peak beckons.

Small Peak Trail Map and Elevation Profile

Download file: 894792.gpx

Photo Gallery

Click on a thumbnail to view a larger version.

Essential Small Peak Resources

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