Hidden Horsethief + Highpoint Brewing

Hike at Horsethief Canyon Park in San Dimas

Need a most excellent adventure? Head to San Dimas, the San Gabriel Valley city perhaps best known for housing famous metalhead time travelers Bill and Ted. Here, you won’t find a bogus journey but an epic canyon trail with radical natural highlights and totally awesome terrain via a 2.5-mile loop at Horsethief Canyon Park.

Hiker walking under a tree canopy at Horsethief Canyon Park in San Dimas

HIker walking a wide trail at Horsethief Canyon Park in San Dimas

Person sitting at a bench at a highpoint overlooking the San Gabriels at Horsethief Canyon Park in San Dimas

Leave your car at the lot for tucked-away Horsethief Canyon Park and find the trailhead flanking a gazebo at the north end of the lot. You’ll notice plenty of green space for recreation here, as you pass a horse track and a dog park early on. Just past the fenced-off pup area, head under a surprise grove of willows, palms, and pines. Soon the dirt track loops back and hugs the looming hill. Make a left when you see a steep trail behind a white gate—a gnarly ascent (about 600 feet) to the hill’s apex. At the top, killer views await. The panoramas over the seemingly endless San Gabriel Valley are the epitome of “most excellent.” Enjoy them from a picturesque bench between two towering pines, or from a picnic table under much needed shade from a welcoming willow. 

Hiker walking a ridge line at Horsethief Canyon Park in San Dimas

HIker looking at an old chimney remnant at Horsethief Canyon Park in San Dimas

Hiker overlooking a big view of the San Gabriel mountains at Horsethief Canyon Park

Look for prominent peaks as well, including the recognizable summit of Mount Baldy, before taking the northernmost trail down the canyon, where both pines and oaks are prevalent. Vistas facing the San Gabriels are also a nice change as you suddenly feel completely secluded. At the next junction, take a right onto the Poison Oak Trail (you won’t actually see many specimens of the much-maligned plant), a narrow singletrack that gently descends along canyon walls. At the clearing, you can check out ruins of an old chimney with an intact stone foundation. Take a right here and follow trail markers through Sycamore Canyon, passing an equestrian center on your way to the trailhead and your car. Excellent!

Hiker pointing out to valley views on a hiking trail at Horsethief Canyon Park in San Dimas

BONUS BREW: Head to a local watering hole for a well-deserved libation. Highpoint Brewing has tap handles that are nature-themed (check out one modeled after National Forest signage) and the beers are all great. We like Bad Kitty, a hefty triple IPA, and the Belgian Beach Party, a refreshing blonde ideal for a hot fall day. Get a flight to sample a variety. 

young person enjoying beer at Highpoint Brewing in San Dimas

Tap handles at Highpoint Brewing in San Dimas

Sign of Highpoint Brewing Company with 4 Sample Beers in glasses in the foreground

To get to the Horsethief Canyon Park lot and San Dimas Canyon trailhead, take the 210 Freeway to the San Dimas Ave. exit and head north. After 0.4 mile, turn right onto Foothill Blvd./Historic Route 66 and after 0.8 mile, turn left onto San Dimas Canyon Rd. Take the next two lefts—Sycamore Canyon Road and Horsethief Canyon Park Road—to get to the lot. 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.

    View
  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.

    View
  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.

    View
  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.

    View

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.

    View
  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.

    View
  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.

    View
  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.

    View