If you're looking for the Coal Canyon Waterfall, don't take this trail. You want the Big Mo Trail. The poorly named Coal Canyon Trail
takes you high above the canyon floor along the west ridge that separates Coal Canyon from Gypsum Canyon.
After crossing under the 91 Freeway through the Coal Canyon wildlife corridor, you enter the seldom-used southern section of Chino Hills State Park. There are three trails that begin at this point, so stay to the right and begin a climb along Forest Service Road 3S04. This road, also known as Main Divide, cuts through the middle of Cleveland National Forest. But in Chino Hills State Park, it is called Coal Canyon Trail
The trail is fully exposed with no water sources, so plan accordingly. The first two miles are ordinary, but once you cross the State Park gate and enter the Coal Canyon Ecological Reserve, the surroundings begin to change. A grove of threatened Tecate cypress emerges, and the 25 foot, rich green conifers dot the chaparral backdrop.
As you approach the top, off to the right you'll notice a red scar of an abandoned surface mine. On the other side of this ridge is mini-Moab: a sedimentary outcrop of boulders that can be seen from miles away. The views from here are amazing. Looking across Fremont Canyon to the south, you can see Santiago Peak
. To the north is Mt. Baldy, and to the west is Catalina Island and downtown Los Angeles.
Upon reaching the end of Coal Canyon Trail
, you can continue along Main Divide to Sierra Peak, or take the south trail down into Fremont Canyon.
Tecate cypress are what people come here to see.