It is in moments of peace and quiet that we learn the most about ourselves.
At the top of our hike to San Clemente Summit, I paused, like I always do while hitting the trail, to take in the beauty that surrounds me. Although the view consisted of a suburban sprawl, the scene was quiet and serene. There is something beautiful about witnessing civilization from above. This vantage point reminded me why I love living in Orange County. Although there are so many people and residential scenes like this one, there is also so much beauty to be found.
The Cristianitos Regional Trail and San Clemente Summit hike my husband and I did a few weeks ago is one of many hidden gems in our area. There was no trailhead, the entrance was hard to find, and the two paths, North and South, were disconnected. However, witnessing such raw, Californian landscape just beyond a pristine, planned community was a pleasure to behold. And, as you read on, there was a special surprise for us once we reached the San Clemente Summit.
After consulting the City of San Clemente’s trail and hiking guide as well as a few different reviews online, I had a pretty good idea where the trail started. We live in Rancho Mission Viejo, CA and, with the newly, completed La Plata Road, were able to take that all the way into San Clemente. From there, we turned right onto Hermosa, then left onto Avenida Talega and took that until it ended. At the end of Talega, there was a small lot for parking, it wasn’t marked, but once we saw a woman out on a run coming towards us, we figured we were in the right spot. Once we parked and headed towards the end of the lot, we saw a sign to our right for Cristianitos Regional Trail and a sign to our left for San Clemente Summit. Since we knew we wanted to hike to the summit, we chose right first and headed out on Cristianitos South Regional Trail.
The start of the trail is a steep incline that is less than a quarter of a mile. No need to worry though for those of you wanting a good hill workout; there is plenty more where that came from! The 2.8 miles of trail consisted of at least four different inclines, but what goes up, must come down. Our shins were a little worse for the wear once we finished Cristianitos South Regional Trail and came back. Out and back it was 5.6 miles and then we headed up Cristianitos North Regional Trail towards San Clemente Summit. I saw this happy reminder of my how prevalent my maiden name, O’Neil, is in Southern California. It’s the little things 🙂
The first half mile of Cristiantos North Regional Trail is a little obscure. The path runs alongside a small, paved road, but don’t worry, keep going and look out for the signs for San Clemente summit. Lovers of hills rejoice – this side of the trail is also a good workout. For those of you who were not planning on getting your butt kicked, the view from the top is well worth it.
Talk about putting your world into perspective. I already thought San Clemente was a beautiful city, but viewing it from the highest point: stunning. Now, are you ready for the special surprise? Do you see that mailbox to the left? Once you make it to the summit and take a similiar, IG-worthy picture like this one, open the mailbox. As of earlier this month (September 2016) some happy hiker left a journal in there with a pen. Since then, hikers, my husband and I included, have been writing their names in the journal. This wonderful happenstance is just one example of why I love being a hiker: other hikers.
I look forward to seeing some of your names written in that journal the next time I venture up San Clemente Summit. Moments that remind me of how small our world can be, how we are all connected, is why I love to hike. After hiking the remainder of Cristianitos North Regional Trail, then heading back to our car, we clocked in at 7 miles roundtrip. Not too shabby for not knowing what to expect from this trail!
In Love, Peace, and Hiking ~ x0