Hiking Review: Quail Hill Loop

small-trail098Quail Hill offers a few hiking, biking, and horse riding options from the Quail Hill Trailhead and Staging Area.  The Trailhead is located on Shady Canyon Drive, just past Fossil Road on the right.  To get there from the 405, take the Sand Canyon / Shady Canyon exit towards Shady Canyon Drive.  Enter the traffic circle and take the first exit to the right onto Shady Canyon Drive.  Turn into the first driveway on your right past Fossil.

I like the Quail Hill Loop for a few reasons, not the least of which is that it offers better views than you’ll find walking, jogging, or running around a high school athletic field.

The amenities have been clean every time I’ve been here, and parking is available most weekdays (on weekends, it’s hit or miss depending on the time of day you get there (there are 42 parking spaces and two handicapped parking spaces), but there is ample parking across Shady Canyon Drive at the athletic field).  There’s plenty of bike parking, a couple of (clean!) picnic areas, and a lookout.  From the trail head parking lot you can access the Shady Canyon Hiking and Biking Trail, the Shady Canyon Trail Bikeway, and Quail Hill Loop.

The loop itself is in very good repair, varying from about 5’ wide to 7’ wide.  It’s dirt, so you might want to think twice about going out there too soon after it rains.  It is 1.7 miles long with an elevation gain of about 200 feet from the highest point to the lowest point, with the majority of the loop (about a mile) being reasonably flat.  There are no benches or rest areas on the loop itself, although there is a ‘cell phone audio tour’ available with five stops along the trail (labeled “Trailhead,” “Seasonal Pond,” “Biodiversity,” “Wildlife,” and “Vista Point” if you follow the loop counter-clockwise).

The majority of people follow a clockwise pattern around the loop, which starts you off from the trailhead going uphill to the highest point of the loop.  It’s a gentle ascent followed by a longer descent to the lowest point.  At the lowest point you’ll be close to the freeway (the sound doesn’t carry and the noise pollution is at a minimum).  There are views of the surrounding hills, wildflowers, a tiny little patch of cactus (with a “not a trail” marker right in the middle of it), and some wildlife.  I’ve seen a lone coyote and one rattlesnake.  During February into March there are tons of caterpillars. They seem remarkably uninterested in hikers, and move across the trail very quickly in small groups.

During the summer months it can be a dry and hot hike in the middle of the day, and there is no shade.  I’d recommend a hat and sunscreen if you’re going to be out there doing more than one loop.

The pictures from my last trip on February 22, 2015 were just a day before it rained, at around 8:00am.  There wasn’t much in the way of available parking, with a few people hovering like vultures waiting for others to pull out of their parking spaces.

Not a difficult path, not particularly crowded, and you can take your dog with you on a leash.  A great place to visit!

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