The Wildhorse Trail is somewhat overshadowed–figuratively and literally–by the San Gorgonio Wilderness to the south, but this is a hike that no serious So-Cal trail buff should miss. The moderately graded, easy to follow trail is a great introduction to high-altitude hiking, and can be a good training exercise for longer trips. Hikers can expect a wide variety of scenery, and surprisingly little company, even on summer weekends.
From the parking area, follow the trail leading north. It soon crosses a fence and merges with a fire road. Look for the single-track to branch off again (signed) to the right, as it begins its ascent, soon leaving the sounds of highway 38 behind.
The early views include the San Gorgoino Mountains to the south and the huge bulk of Sugarloaf to the northwest. As you get higher, you’ll see a slice of the Santa Ana River Canyon, and even a little bit of the desert to the east.
After three miles of moderate ascent, the trail rounds a bend and makes a pleasant descent through pines. One more mile brings you to the Wildhorse Trail Camp, where you can sit on some logs beneath the shade of the evergreens and relax before turning around. The return trip, during which you get the full effect of the views of Sugarloaf and the San Gorgoino ridge, is particularly enjoyable.
Keep in mind that, despite the trail’s high elevation, the south-facing slopes are quite barren of trees, and tend to get hot during the summer. Hats and sunblock help if you start at mid-day.