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Hiking, Biking, Climbing, & Horseback Riding

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Trail Safety Tips and Park Rules

Hiking, Biking, & Horse Trails

     Lake Perris has Hiking only trails, Hiking and Bike trails, and Hiking, Mountain Bike, and Horse trails located throughout the park. Summer temperatures can be harsh, but springtime riders find themselves in the midst of a colorful sea of wildflowers on the east end of the park.

Hiking Only: There are hiking-only trails that pick up near the Museum and the Lake Perris Amphitheater that lead up to the scenic overlook of Terri Peak. On the park brochure, these trails are marked in green dots.

Hiking and Bike Trails: This trail is marked as a line of green dashes on the brochure. That particular trail is also paved and wheel chair accessible.

Hiking, Biking, and Horseback Riding: These trails are noted as a broken purple line of dashes and dots on the brochure. It is not wheelchair accessible and it is unpaved.

Note: Bikes and horses are NOT allowed on the dam at any time. Bikes seeking to circle the lake must use the unpaved horse trail.


Lake Perris does not rent horses, but visitors are welcome to bring their own to the park. There is an Equestrian day use areas located in the "Day Use Horse Trailer / Hunter's Parking Lot" area near the Group Campground with access to water. Another area near the overnight Equestrian Campground that has access to water and several corrals.

For information on camping overnight with your horse: Horse Camp


     Big Rock is a popular Southern California climbing spot located within Lake Perris State Recreation Area in Riverside County.  Big rock is just that, a giant granite rock approximately 180 feet high.  It hosts 34 recognized routes that range from a modest 4th class to a 5.10d with one A3 route.  Although most routes are single pitch, or suitable for top rope, we have a couple of multi-pitch that take you to the upper level of the rock and several of the more challenging routes.  It’s popular with mostly beginning and intermediate climbers, but provides some aggressive opportunities for that more advanced climber looking for a quick urban workout.  A route map is provided at the base of the rock, and they are also printed in several Southern California climbing guides.

Big Rock has approximately 110 bolts on its face and no more are permitted.  Please enjoy the routes already established.  If you need to add some excitement try some traverses between routes.  We also ask that if you must aid up the flakes, please use nuts only.

The climbing area is open year round although the best temperatures are from late September to about mid June.  Big Rock boasts a west face so it provides shade in the morning and long evenings during day light savings.

Equipment requirements are fairly light: quick draws, runners, 165 feet of rope, and a selection of nuts and/or anchors.

It’s an easy approach to the climbing area requiring about a half mile hike along a paved road.  Chemical toilets and picnic tables are provided, but you must provide your own water, and the park does not rent climbing gear.  

All climbing is at your own risk.  The Department of Parks and Recreation does not install or maintain any fixtures or equipment on Big Rock. 

Recommended Hikes at Lake Perris

Below are some hikes that are among the most spectacular to take in the park. All reports are taken from HikinginSocal (used with permission):  

Terri Peak 


Category: Easy

Miles: 4

Elevation Gain: 850'

Location: Lake Perris State Recreation Area

Directions: HERE

Description: The high point of the Aramada Mountains in Lake Perris State Recreation Area, Terri Peak, is a block mountain overlooking the towns of Moreno Valley and Perris to the north and the watery haunts of Lake Perris on the south.  Bolstering pleasant views in all directions from its 2,569' summit, this trip is well worth a Springtime excursion to.

The Trail: From the Horse Camp trailhead, take the road as it transitions into a trail up the eastern side of the mountain, passing through stands of White Sage, Brisitlebrush, California Sage, and Buckwheat.  In spring, the lupines, goldfields, bells, nightshades, and even invasive mustard and stinking chamomile can turn these hillsides into radiant shades of color. As the trail ascends to the north side of the range, around the 2,200' mark, you enter a grassy plateau, tranquil and vivacious in season, and dreary and dormant when not.  As you travel, be sure to stay onto the main trail and not be side-tracked by the numerous excess paths cut by users, leading to unnecessary erosion and destruction of natural habitat. Here on the northside, lupines become more populous as do Chamise, Sumac and some strands of Scrub Oak. From the summit, enjoy the appealing views in all directions here among the gliding hawks and whistling breeze.  If you have another car or bike, you can return along the western side of the range to the Regional Indian Museum and Lake Perris Visitor Center, a destination well worth your time. If not, return the way you came. 


Mount Russell  


Category: Moderate

Miles: 4.5

Elevation Gain: 1,200'

Location: Lake Perris State Recreation Area, Upland Game Hunting Area ($10 entrance fee)

Directions: HERE

Description:   Mount Russell, the 2,704' high-point of 8,800 acre Lake Perris State Recreation Area, boasts not only pleasant views of the surrounding area and lake, but offers an exemplary solitary experience through sage scrub second to none in the area.  Chances are no matter what time of year, you will have the summit and Russell Mountains all to yourself, with only a Red-Shouldered hawk above, the various species of reptiles below, and the elements of the natural world around to keep you company.  No maintained trail penetrates these high and wild sections of the park, and although there is a faint-to-nonexistent use trail to the summit, few who enter the park venture past the fish-stocked waters of 131,400 acre feet Lake Perris. To those who embark on this trek, if a little imagination is used, they will see perhaps not much indeed has changed since Juan Bautista de Anza passed through these mountains centuries ago.  Take this trip in the spring, preferably after a rainy winter , when the various kinds of wildflowers are bright abloom, the grasses verdant, and the temperature cool. This range has no substantial shade from trees of any sort and is completely exposed to the triple-degree heat of summer; plan accordingly.

The Trail: From the Hunter's Point, take the horse trail through the brush and turn left, as the trail skirts the hillsides.  After a few hundred yards, take a right turn up a small canyon up to its crest about 300' above the parking area. In Spring, this vale is alive with fresh growing grasses, various kinds of wildflowers including California Bells, Fiddle-necks, Popcorn, and Goldfields, and rejuvenated coastal sage scrub mainly consisting of Brittlebrush, varied sages, and California buckwheat.  As the single-track path makes its way onto a multi-use trail, you will pass alongside the north-side of a cresting ridge on the left and up to a small communications station. From here, take the faint use-trail up to the crest of the ridge, frequently overgrown in Spring, requiring a good eye to find. As you steeply ascend this route, the path turns onto the ridge and rides it about a mile, sometimes barely recognizable, to a small saddle between the ridge and Mount Russell.  Descend into this saddle at the head of a canyon about 200', and wind around to the southwestern slope of Mount Russell. Here, the use-trail is quite useless, and a commonsense scramble coupled with solid route-finding techniques will be necessary. After ascending a steep couple of hundred feet past a pair of old wooden electrical posts, follow the ridge dotted with large rock outcropping and Laural and Lemonade sumacs to the boulder-strewn summit of Mount Russell, marked by a nearby Cross and summit register.  After enjoying the solitude and welcoming breeze over the valley metropolis to the west and desert and mountains topography to the east, return to the base of the scramble section, and retrace your steps back to the trailhead.