Hidden Horsethief + Highpoint Brewing

Hike at Horsethief Canyon Park in San Dimas

Hiker along a wide trail overlooking the San Gabriels at Horsethief Canyon in San Dimas

{FEBRUARY 2024 NOTE: Stay safe. Wait until storms have passed before hiking any trails, and before heading out check official websites for updates on trail status, closures, hazards, etc. Expect wet, muddy, and slippery trails, and exercise caution and good judgment. We recommend waiting several days and for a decent timeframe of dry weather before heading out post-rains.}

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. Golden Gate's Blue Heron

    Golden Gate Park’s Blue Heron Lake is home to birds of many feathers, turtles lounging on rocks, visitors from afar, and locals who love this urban oasis in San Francisco. Try the "Boats and Breakfast" rowboat or pedal boat deal.

    View
  2. Cañada Collage

    This 4.3-mile loop through Cañada Del Oro Open Space Preserve showcases all the highlights of the season, thrumming with wildlife and wildflowers.

    View
  3. Hike Mount Tamalpais into Muir Woods

    Muir Woods Through the Backdoor

    A backdoor entrance into Muir Woods? Hike a tranquil trail that starts in Mount Tamalpais State Park and quietly leads into Muir Woods, letting you avoid the busyness of the main parking area.

    View
  4. Hike Kortum Trail on the Sonoma Coast

    GOAT Coastal Hike + Sunset

    GOAT (greatest of all time) Sonoma Coast experience? Hike the Kortum Trail, wine taste on a patio overlooking the Russian River, and catch a sensational sunset at, yep, Goat Rock Beach.

    View

Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. Camp at Goose Lake in the Lakes Basin

    Duck, Duck, Goose!

    Try to get a first-come, first-served campsite at one of the Lakes Basin’s lakeside campgrounds. We love Goose Lake Campground, where there are just 13 sites and no motorized boats.

    View
  2. Fancy Camp

    Wanna go rugged on the coast, minus the whole pitching your own tent and sleeping on the ground bit? Mendocino Grove is spot-on for upgrading your roughing-it experience, with beautifully appointed tent-cabins set across the bluffs overlooking Mendocino Bay.

    View
  3. A Splash of Whiskeytown

    Located just 8 miles west of Redding and surrounded by mountain peaks, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area is nearly 40,000 acres of all things outdoors: waterfalls, campgrounds, beaches, hiking trails, and a beautiful crystal-clear lake at the center of it all.

    View
  4. Bucks Up!

    Come on in, the water is beautiful. Whether you like swimming, kayaking, stand-up paddling, or heading out on a bigger boat, Bucks Lake is a high mountain haven that’s easy to access, blissfully uncrowded, and surrounded by sandy beaches, picnic areas, pines, and aspens.

    View