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Not So Scary Trail Tale: Hiking Pumpkin Rock

José González | Oboz Ambassador

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How do you entice kids to go hiking? Tell them they are going to see the biggest jack-o-lantern ever.

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Pumpkin Rock is in Norco, CA

The trailhead for Pumpkin Rock is located about an hour from Los Angeles in the city of Norco. It feels farther away than that, even back in time, because “the city of horses” is still a place where people tie up their horses to go to a saloon.

We arrived at Pikes Peak Park, were we parked and put on our backpacks of all sizes. The hike starts by going uphill on a horse path to the entrance to the trail. You can see the pumpkin from the bottom so it’s a good goal to have in sight. 

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Along the way we saw a family with all members wearing matching pumpkin t-shirts—cool! Then, another family with three children under the age of 6. Happy to see so many people hiking with their kids. Kids feel better seeing other kids hiking too, chatting them up. 

Some other interesting surprises we found along the way to see the Pumpkin were metal horse sculptures and a solar-powered U.S.A. sign, which led to interesting discussion that didn’t include “are we there yet”.

Pushing up the last steep climb, you (and the kids) realize it is a really big Jack-O-Lantern. From the top, you are rewarded not only with the Instagram-worthy giant pumpkin, but also with a great view of two valleys. We look around and it seems like all of us had the same mission, to get to Pumpkin Rock! 

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The view at the top isn't just about the pumpkin!

Maybe Pumpkin Rock is what introduces your youngster to hiking. Maybe for others, having this goal is what gets them off the couch and into the outdoors. Hiking with kids is not scary as long as you keep it fun, short and interesting. Despite the motivations, Pumpkin Rock is a must-do family hike, especially leading up to spooky celebrations.

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José González

Name: José H. González

Hometown: Grew up in Puerto Rico, now living in Los Angeles, Calif.

Where I’ve Been: I have been an adventurer my whole life. In 1989, I started leading 5-day backpacking trips in Puerto Rico for a Boy Scout Camp. After that, I split my time between New Hampshire, Maine and the Caribbean. In the past, I worked for Outward Bound and now I teach for NOLS Wilderness Medicine. I'm currently an Assistant Professor for Cal State University at Northridge teaching courses in Backpacking, Outdoor Leadership, and Recreation Management. I feel lucky and fortunate to have spent more than 900 nights sleeping in a tent and to have hiked the Sierras, more than 200 miles of the Appalachian Trail, the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of New Mexico, Caribbean volcanos, waterfalls in Costa Rica and Torres del Paine, Chile among others.

Why I Hike: I can take my family with me on adventures, it’s a great way to stay in shape and it’s accessible and very rewarding. 

Lead The Way: In 2019, I am planning to take my students on a backpacking trip to Joshua Tree as part of the Recreation Leadership course. Also, I would like to explore the Backbone Trail in the Santa Monica Mountains, hike Half Dome (if I am selected in the lottery!) and the Narrows in Utah.

Ambassador Focus: #generalhiking

Find Me:

Instagram: @hikingmaverick 

Facebook: @JoseHGonzalezEdD

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