Bewitching Buzzard

Bag Buzzard Peak in Los Angeles County

There's a hidden hill hike named after SoCal’s sinister scavenger—the turkey vulture—nestled between the Forest Lawn Cemetery and Mount San Antonio College in Covina. The San Jose Hills provide the setting for a scary good 4.25-mile out-and-back workout that takes you to its apex, 1,345-foot Buzzard Peak, for 360-degree views and not a soul in sight.

Because the official trailhead is on a busy street, park at nearby Heritage Park (where you can also check out the historic Taylor House, an early 20th-century Craftsman) and walk east on Cameron, crossing at the light and turning right onto Grand Avenue. At half a mile, find the Schabarum Trail signage and trailhead on your left ascending into the hills. The street noise immediately fades away as you quickly climb and are rewarded with fantastic views into the San Gabriel Valley to the north and the namesake mountain range. 

The path then descends into a heavily wooded oak canyon—it becomes eerily quiet here, though residential areas do surround the trail. Pass an abandoned teepee and remnants of a treehouse. The seclusion is serene, though after 1.2 miles on the trail you reach a fire road that steadily climbs to your summit. You now have fantastic vistas to the south overlooking neighboring Mount San Antonio College and Chino Hills in the distance. As you reach the top, look for a firebreak trail that ascends sharply to the official peak.

At the top, you’ll likely be alone—a great time to search the skies for the resident birds. Buzzards, also known as turkey vultures, are like an airborne Halloween mascot. You also get inspiring 360-degree views from the peak, featuring the Santa Ana and San Bernardino Ranges as well as a truly unique vantage point of the distant skyline of downtown Los Angeles. Head back the way you came. 

To get to Heritage Park (and eventually the Buzzard Peak trailhead), take the I-10 to the Grand Ave. exit in Covina and head south for 1 mile before turning right onto Cameron Ave. The park and lot will be on your left in 0.2 mile. Dog-friendly!

Story and photos by Matt Pawlik

Trending Stories NorCal

View all Stories
  1. Big Wave Hiking

    Pillar Point Bluff's amazing trail system is a coastal haven most popular for being the best spot to watch the famed Mavericks surf break in winter. But this place is beautiful year round for hiking.

  2. Sweet and Salty

    Located on Highway 1 about 18 miles north of Jenner, Salt Point State is wild, scenic, and one of the most beautiful places to do some classic coastal camping.

  3. Up Umunhum

    Rising from the Santa Cruz Mountains, Mount Umunhum is one of the Bay Area’s highest points, reaching an impressive 3,486 feet. With the new 7.4-mile (round-trip) addition to the Bay Area Ridge Trail, locals can finally step up to its peak.

  4. Barnabe Bonanza

    Sure, there are higher mountains in Marin (Mount Tam) and easier ascents (Mount Burdell), but is there a more expansive North Bay view? Barnabe Peak in Samuel P. Taylor State Park offers a glorious panorama including Mount Tam, Mount Diablo, and Mount St. Helena.


Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. Secret Stair Master!

    Step up to a wonderful 2-mile, nearly 1000-step workout in peaceful Pasadena that is part leg labor, part suburban stroll, and all serene secret.

  2. Hidden Stairway in Silver Lake

    Life in Los Angeles can be vibrant in so many ways, including stairways! This hidden stairway hike in Silver Lake features colorfully artistic and historic steps via 1.5 miles, four unique staircases, and countless local food options for a bite to eat.

  3. Apple of Your Eye

    That fall feeling is definitely in the air and on display at the Oak Glen Preserve. Apple orchards and colorful leaves are a bonus, as are the apple cider donuts and slushies you can enjoy post-hike.

  4. Hidden Trio

    A trio of hidden canyons is often found in more remote places, but they're also on this urban walk in the serene hills of eastside’s Mount Washington. Head here for a beautiful 7-mile (round-trip) neighborhood tour of historic homes, ample greenspace, and, yes, three hidden canyons.