Moreno Valley "M" Trail

Hiking Up to the Giant Moreno Valley “M”

Have you ever thought about climbing up to the giant “M” on Box Springs Mountain?

If you don’t know what I’m writing about, the big “M” overlooks Moreno Valley and is visible from the 215 and 60 freeways as you pass by or through Moreno Valley.

Back in February 2012, we decided to give it a try, so we packed up the family and headed out to Box Springs Mountain Regional Park in Moreno Valley.

Here are some pictures from March 2017 when everything was green from all the rain:

Moreno Valley "M" Trail

Moreno Valley "M" Trail

Moreno Valley "M" Trail

Before our first hike in 2012, I looked at satellite pictures on Google maps before heading out. After that hike, I found this trail map on rivcoparks.org which listed the “M” Trail (the red line) as difficult. There is also a map on display at the parking lot, but it isn’t very helpful.

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The start of the trail we took…

Moreno Valley "M" Trail

This flower (and the bugs) greeted us near the start of the trail…

Moreno Valley "M" Trail

Moreno Valley "M" Trail

Looking down at the parking lot, which kept getting smaller and smaller…

Moreno Valley "M" Trail

The trail ahead…

Moreno Valley "M" Trail

Except for lizards of various colors, we didn’t see much wildlife…

Moreno Valley "M" Trail

Looking back at the trail…

Moreno Valley "M" Trail

A random flower on the way…

Moreno Valley "M" Trail

Looking up at the toughest part of the trail we followed. Note the faint outline of a trail going off to the left in the center of the picture. That trail takes you around this peak instead of up it. Because the brush was overgrown due to the heavy rains, we missed that turn and kept climbing up…

Moreno Valley "M" Trail

Moreno Valley "M" Trail

Still climbing up…

Moreno Valley "M" Trail

One last look back at the trail…

Moreno Valley "M" Trail

When we saw the radio towers, we realized that we had climbed to the top of Box Springs Mountain instead of just to the “M”…

Moreno Valley "M" Trail

My favorite lizard of the day…

Moreno Valley "M" Trail

Looking down at the “M”…

Moreno Valley "M" Trail

The view from above the “M”. Not the clearest day, but still a nice view…

Moreno Valley "M" Trail

Moreno Valley "M" Trail

Moreno Valley "M" Trail

Moreno Valley "M" Trail

Moreno Valley "M" Trail

This picture is from our first trip up in 2012, when the “M” was covered in graffiti. The “M” is so large that I couldn’t fit it all into the frame when I was standing just slightly downhill from it. According to multiple sources, the “M” was built in 1966. From the Press-Enterprise:

The “M” sign on Box Springs Mountain was built in 1966 at the 3,080-foot summit. Moreno Valley Noon Rotary Club members and Moreno Valley High School students painted over concrete blocks, rocks and boulders in the letter’s shape. The symbol aimed to unify the community.

Moreno Valley "M" Trail

This is from a hike with my wife in March 2017 after a lot of rain…

Moreno Valley "M" Trail

This is from a solo hike I took in August 2017…

Moreno Valley "M" Trail

Standing on the “M”…

Moreno Valley "M" Trail

The trail down from the bottom of the “M” (the trail we intended to climb up but missed)…

Moreno Valley "M" Trail

There seem to be a few different trails that will take you up the initial peak or around it. On our way down we went around it. If you hike to the “M”, you should study the routes before you go or go with someone who knows the way. The overgrowth is probably why we initially missed this trail…

Moreno Valley "M" Trail

Looking back up at the decision point to go up the initial peak or around it. This is the turnoff we missed on our way up…

Moreno Valley "M" Trail

Here are the routes my wife and I took in March 2017 according to my Garmin. The top line shows our route up, and the bottom line shows our route down. Both routes were about 1.4 miles and 1,100-1,200 feet of elevation. We took two big bottles of water each and wore trail shoes. It took us about 1.5 hours to climb, and about 1 hour to descend. We probably would have gone a little faster (not much) but we were taking pictures and had run a 5K the day before.

Moreno Valley "M" Trail

If you take the “M” trail, bring enough water to last you to the “M” and back. Other than the drinking fountain at the bottom of the mountain, there is no water on the trail.

Moreno Valley "M" Trail

For more info… rivcoparks.org

Talk to me, Johnny.