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Lake Perris State Recreation Area

Terri Peak Trail

From Campfire Center to Terri Peak is 3.5 miles round trip with 800-foot elevation gain;
to Indian Museum, return via lakeshore, is 6 miles round trip

Perris in the Spring. No need to battle the hordes of tourists flocking to that other similar-sounding place of romance across the Atlantic. No need to travel 6,000 miles and spend lots of money to have a good time.

For just a few francs you can visit a manmade wonder, Lac de Paris, otherwise known as Lake Perris State Recreation Area. So pack du pain et du vin (actually alcohol is now prohibted in the park) and head for the most romantic Pomona Freeway offramp in all of Southern California.

Few nature lovers—or lovers of any kind—have discovered the romance of Perris. True, a million and a half visitors come to the lake each year, but most are interested in only the nature found wriggling on the end of a hook.

While the parc is oriented to les autos et les bateaux, there is a network of trails for those visitors who wish to explore Perris à pied. Perris pace-setters will enjoy the trek to Terri Peak, easily the most romantic spot in all of the surrounding hills. Springtime colors the hills with a host of wild fleurs, including goldfields, California poppy, fiddleneck, baby blue eyes and blue dicks. The view from Terri Peak on smog-free days is trés fantastique.

Directions to trailhead: From the Pomona Freeway (60), a few miles east of its intersection with I-215, exit on Moreno Beach Drive and proceed 4 miles to the park. Immediately after paying your state park day use fee at the entry kiosk, turn right on Alta Calle. Look sharply right for the campfire center sign. Park in the center’s lot and proceed up the concrete trail. The unsigned trail begins to the left of the campfire center.

The hike: The trail ascends gradually west and occasionally intersects a horse trail. The unsigned path is tentative at first but an occasional wooden post helps keep you on the trail, which climbs boulder-strewn slopes.

The coastal scrub community—sage, buckwheat, chamise and toyon predominates. Also much in evidence are weedy-looking non-native species, as well as mustard, prickly pear cactus, morning glory and Russian thistle.

The trail climbs to a small flat meadow then turns southwest and climbs more earnestly to the peak. From atop Terri Peak, enjoy clear-day views of the San Bernardino Mountains to the northeast and the Santa Ana Mountains to the southwest. Below is fast-growing Moreno Valley, checker-boarded alternately with green fields and subdivisions. You can see all of Lake Perris, Alessandro Island, along with hundreds of boaters, anglers and swimmers.

The trail from Terri Peak down to the Indian Museum is sometimes in poor condition. Beginning hikers may want to retrace their steps to the trail-head. The more experienced will begin their descent. You may lose the trail a couple of times; however you won’t get lost because it’s easy to stay oriented with the lakeshore on your left and the Indian Museum ahead.

After a steep descent, the trail bends sharply east and deposits you at the Indian Museum’s parking lot. The museum includes exhibits interpreting the Luiseño, Cahuilla, Chemehuevi, Serrano and other desert tribes and how they adapted to life in the Mojave Desert region.

From the museum, you follow the asphalt road down to Alta Calle, cross this main park road and continue down to Perris Beach. Here you may cool off with a swim.

Improvise a route along the lakeshore using the sidewalk and bicycle trail until you spot the main campground entrance on your left. Enter the campground, pass the kiosk, then pick up the intermittent footpath that winds through the campground. This path and some improvisation will bring you to Alta Calle and back to the trailhead.

© 2012 The Trailmaster, Inc.
From John McKinney’s
Day Hiker’s Guide to California’s State Parks
Trail descriptions and maps have been reproduced with the permission of the author.  To learn more about The Trailmaster and other related publications please visit their website at www.thetrailmaster.com.