Updated: Oct 4
Sycamore Highlands Park is a 9-acre park in Riverside, California. Not only does it give amazing views of Riverside, it is on the edge of the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park - a 1,424-acre area with rolling hills and trails. There are also 2 playgrounds, a basketball court, a place to hit baseballs, and picnic tables. Read along as we talk about each of these things and more!
This video by Jose Cardenas shows the beautiful sunset that you can get by going to this park!
To start, there is street parking on Lockerton Lane and Abernathy Drive. Fair Isle Drive does not have any street parking because of a cyclist lane. There is no parking lot at the park, so it may be hard to find parking. Don’t park in the wrong area - a lot of people report getting a very expensive ticket.
If you take the short walk to the top of the hill, you’ll see 10 benches where you can see the San Gabriel Mountains, the San Bernardino Mountains, the San Jacinto Mountains, and the Santa Ana Mountains. You can also watch much of the Inland Empire and Riverside. I highly recommend going up here in the winter - the mountains will be covered in snow and give a mesmerizing view. It’s the best spot, by far, to go to in the park
Also at the top of the hill is a little garden - similar to Lacy Park. With some benches, trees, shrubs, and vines growing up the wooden shade shelter (pergolas), it’s a great spot to relax. There’s a gazebo with 2 picnic tables where people can have lunch. Plenty of lights are scattered around the park, so don’t be worried about going up here in the evening to watch the sunset.
There is a grass field next to the playground where you can hit baseballs. If you can hit a baseball farther than 150 feet, this green space is too small. It’s also on a slight slope. Football, soccer, and similar games will be difficult. TownGate Memorial Park is only a few minutes away and they have some great fields for every type of sport.
The basketball court is on the eastern side of the park. It has 2 half courts (in the shape of a circle) and a couple of picnic tables underneath a shade shelter. They both have painted lines for free throws and three-pointers. Even better is that lights are shining up the court. Nighttime playing is possible!
There are 0.63 miles of sidewalks inside Sycamore Highlands Park, and that excludes the miles and miles of trails in Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park. I highly recommend walking around this park since it only takes 15 minutes - it gives you an unforgettable view! There is an entrance to the 1,400-acre wilderness park on the western side of the park.
There are no restrooms at the park. Go before you visit or go hiking!
Sycamore Highlands Park is most busy around sunset. If you want to watch the sunset in a less crowded area, Monday and Thursday are the least busy. The park gets continually busier until sunset.
Jonathan Neal says that there is “Such a fantastic view of the Inland Empire, the San Gabriel Mountains, the San Bernardino Mountains, the San Jacinto Mountains, and the City of Riverside. Particularly lovely in the winter when the panorama is clear. Very stunning after a storm dumps snow all over the surrounding mountain ranges.” The park is rated a 4.7 out of 5, which is better than most parks in Riverside.
Sycamore Highlands Park Playground
At the playground, there is a gazebo with 3 picnic tables underneath. There are more tables and benches around this area. Also, the playground surfaces are made out of rubber - that means less splinters.
The larger of the two playgrounds has a tall slide, a rock climbing wall, lots of stairs, smaller slides, and games. There are also 4 traditional swings and 2 bucket swings for smaller children.
The smaller Sycamore Highlands Park Playground has small slides, games, talk tubes, monkey bars, some jungle gym equipment, and more. This is more designed toward younger kids as they will get less bored.
Unfortunately, this spot has no lights - the park closes at 9 p.m., so it won’t be much of a problem anyway.
Sycamore Highlands Park Address: Sycamore Highlands Park, 5777, 5777 Fair Isle Dr, Riverside, CA 92507
Hours: 6 AM - 9 PM
Coordinates: 33.946741, -117.308931
Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park
Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park is a 1,424-acre park directly west of Sycamore Highlands Park. There are over a dozen miles of trails and plenty of elevation gain. Hiking from one side of the park to the other will be about 4 miles and over 1,000 feet of elevation gain. Most people will hike, run, or mountain bike on these hills. There is the Cougar Rock Formation, a pile of boulders on the peak of a hill.
If you go at the right time of year (spring), you can see thousands of flowers. There are also lots of lizards, ravens, coyotes, and maybe some rattlesnakes. For this reason, I recommend not going off trail - always look where you step! Rattlesnakes, and most other snakes, will go onto trails to warm up in the warm sun.
As all Californians know, wildfires are always a concern. To protect this area, call emergency services if you see smoke or someone trying to start a fire.
Charlton Storer says, “Moderate to easy hiking trails and wilderness areas. Most trails here are unshaded so prepare well during warmer sunny days. Overall, a nice place to get some exercise and fresh air. There is a parking lot and a nature center, but be sure to check the hours before your visit if planning on using these amenities.”
Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park Address: 400 Central Ave, Riverside, CA 92507
Hours: 5 AM - 8 PM Sunday-Friday, 7 AM - 10 PM Saturdays
Coordinates: 33.954406, -117.320926
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