I’ll be honest, we reallllly weren’t planning on hitting up Rancho Cucamonga, but when Dom and I ended up having to go to the area for an appointment we figured we might as well make a full day of it! Never waste a minute, right? Rancho Cucamonga, a suburb just south of Angeles National Forest, is located in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. The city is less than 40 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, making it an attractive getaway for those trying to escape the city.
I’m not gonna lie, we can’t say the name of this park without a British “Sir David Attenborough” type accent. The North Etiwanda Preserve sounds like it should be in the plains of Tanzania instead of the middle of Southern California, doesn’t it? This area…”teeming with life!” (you’ve gotta say it with the accent) was set aside in 1998 when the land was gifted to the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors.
So why do we love the preserve? 1. For starters it is totally family friendly (although not dog friendly) with only ~800 feet of elevation gain. It’s just enough to break a little sweat without completely exhausting your entire party. 2. The trail is ridiculously easy to follow and not technical. 3. It’s fairly short out-and-back ringing in at 5 miles. 4. The view from the top is fantastic!
Adjacent to the (free) dirt parking lot you’ll see the sign for the preserve. One should note that you should only park in a designated parking space inside the specified parking area to avoid a ticket or even worse, your car getting towed! Fortunately nether one of these things happened to us, however there are quite a few reports of this happening to others, so just be mindful.
From here you’ll hike up towards the information sign. Honestly the sign isn’t much help as it mostly outlines the preserve’s loop and if you are heading to the falls they are situated on National Forest property just North of the preserve. So keep on truckin’ up into the mountains until you can to a three way crossing. Take the middle trail and keep heading on up!
The views along the way are beautiful, so enjoy the wide trail as you continue upwards towards the falls. As you may have noticed in the photo above that there is basically no shade…yup, not even an ounce along the way. Not too much of a problem in the fall/winter, but if you are planning on heading there on a hot summer day be prepared! Make sure you have slathered on the sunscreen, brought water, and perhaps donned a wide brimmed hat for some additional protection against the rays.
Finally you’re here! 15 foot beautiful waterfall amidst a lovely wooden area with a great view of the surrounding valley. We visited during the dry season, so while there was water moving it certainly wasn’t as much as it would be in the Spring. Still, considering this was only a short drive from our Mojave Desert home its hard to believe there was a waterfall at all!
Once done soaking in the waterfall and the forested area, the rest of the hike is really simple. 1. Turn around and 2. Head back down the way you came. If you come down around “golden hour” you’ll experience that gorgeous light gracing the tops of the hills. California you are so darn beautiful!
- Winter (November – February): 0630 – 1700
- Summer (March – October): 0630 – 2000
- Admission: Free
- Parking: Free, however parking gates are closed promptly at the time of the park’s closure, so be mindful of the clock! Also make sure you are parking in a designated space in the parking area. We’ve read reports of other hikers being ticketed + towed for street parking, so make sure that isn’t you!
Victoria Gardens is a great option if your peeps are hungry, but not 100% sure what they want. This 147 acre shopping and dining paradise has a ridiculous number of choices with both fast food and sit down restaurant options as well as both big name chains and little mom and pop restaurants. You can’t really go wrong with Mexican in SoCal, so our tribe landed at Luna Modern Mexican Kitchen, but there were several other tempting options (restaurant listings can be found here).
If shopping is your thing, Victoria Gardens also features a ton of other stores as well. A list of all the women’s apparel retailers can be found here with the stores currently having sales flagged (bonus!). Don’t worry there’s tons of stuff for the kiddos as well as guys , too, just click here and here.
- Hours: Monday – Thursday, 1000 – 2100, Friday – Saturday, 1000 – 2200; Sunday, 1100 – 1900
- Admission: Free
- Parking: There is a free lot right before you hit the big “Victoria Gardens” sign
So, it isn’t your traditional eatery, but like our post for Indio (ahem…Thousand Palms…) this brewery usually has a food truck in addition to its large selection of craft brews. Interested in: ales? stouts? sours? Scope the current menu options out online prior to going to make sure they have something you’re interested in trying.
In addition to good variety of brews, this location is also family friendly as well as pet friendly so feel free to bring your furry kids. There’s outdoor as well as indoor seating available and quite a few games for littles.
But what about the food? Taco Tuesday goes down at King’s every Tuesday as well as Street Dog Sunday every…you guessed it – Sunday. For the full food truck line up – click here!
- Hours: Monday – Thursday, 1600 – 2000; Friday, 1400 – 000; Saturday, 1200 – 0000; Sunday, 1300 – 2100
- Parking: Free
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