Puente Hills

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Puente Hills
View of the San Gabriel Mountains from the Puente Hills
Highest point
Peak Workman Hill
Elevation 424 m (1,391 ft)
Relief map of California.png
Red triangle with thick white border.svg
Location of the Puente Hills in California [1]
CountryUnited States
District Los Angeles County
Range coordinates 33°59′59.044″N117°55′3.226″W / 33.99973444°N 117.91756278°W / 33.99973444; -117.91756278 Coordinates: 33°59′59.044″N117°55′3.226″W / 33.99973444°N 117.91756278°W / 33.99973444; -117.91756278
Topo map USGS  La Habra

The Puente Hills are a chain of hills, one of the lower Transverse Ranges, in an unincorporated area in eastern Los Angeles County, California, in the United States. The western end of the range is often referred to locally as the Whittier Hills.



The Puente Hills lie to the south of the San Gabriel Valley and the Pomona Freeway (State Route 60), to the east of the San Gabriel River Freeway (Interstate 605), to the north of Whittier Boulevard, and to the west of the city of Diamond Bar and Chino Hills. To its north are the City of Industry, Hacienda Heights, and Rowland Heights. To the south are Whittier, La Habra Heights, La Habra and Brea. The Brea-Olinda Oil Field, discovered in 1880 and still producing in 2014, is in the southernmost portion of the hills adjacent to the city of Brea.


The Puente Hills are in the California chaparral and woodlands ecoregion of the California Floristic Province. The remnant California native plants here are in the chaparral and oak woodland plant communities, with stands of California native grasses. Vascular Plants of the Whittier Hills, a floristic study, was completed by Julie A. Schneider Ljubenkov and Timothy S. Ross (2001), and published in Crossosoma. It built on the work of Bob Muns. [2]

Puente Hills in Hellman Wilderness Park Hellman Park Whittier CA 3 Mariposa Trail.jpg
Puente Hills in Hellman Wilderness Park


Rio Hondo College is located at the foot of the western end of the hills, and the Puente Hills Landfill is nearby. Rose Hills Memorial Park occupies portions of the northern area. The highest point in the western hills is Workman Hill, named for the pioneer Workman family. The Puente Hills Mall is located north of the hills. Hsi Lai Temple in Hacienda Heights, the second largest Buddhist temple and monastery in the western hemisphere, is located in the hills.


Puente Hills Native Habitat Preserve

Puente Hills is home to the Puente Hills Landfill, the country's largest landfill, which closed in 2013. The high-tech landfill has begun offering tours. [3] [4] The Puente Hills Landfill Native Habitat Preservation Authority directs the acquisition, restoration, and management of open space in the Puente Hills for preservation of the land to protect the biological diversity and provide opportunities for outdoor education and low-impact recreation, and scheduled hikes are offered. [5] [6] [7]

Hellman Wilderness Park

Hellman Wilderness Park is located in the western Puente Hills ("Whittier Hills") with trailheads in Whittier. [8] It is managed by the Puente Hills Habitat Preservation Authority. [9] It has trails into native coastal sage scrub habitats, and up to vistas of the Los Angeles Basin. [10]

Schabarum Regional Park

Schabarum Regional Park is partially in the eastern Puente Hills, in Rowland Heights, eastern Los Angeles County, California. It has equestrian and hiking trails in the hills. [11] [12]

Oil drilling

Whittier Oil Field structure map WhittierOilFieldStructureMap.png
Whittier Oil Field structure map
Whittier Oil Field geologic cross section WhittierOilFieldGeologicCrossSection.png
Whittier Oil Field geologic cross section

A commercial discovery was made in 1897, for what would become the Whittier Oil Field, when a well was drilled to a depth of 984 feet. The location was in the central area of production. By 1903, about 100 wells were in operation and by 1924, there were 163 commercial wells in operation. [13]

There has been a long history of oil drilling in the Puente Hills. In the early 20th century, several companies drilled, including Simon Murphy's Murphy Oil Company. Recently, Matrix Oil has proposed resumption of oil drilling on several acres in the Puente Hills. Oil drilling began to decline in the Puente hills in the 1940s. [14]

History and Legends

In the early 1930s an unsuccessful high-voltage experiment was made in an attempt to create rain. [15]

A Robin Airlines Curtiss C-46 passenger plane crashed in the Puente Hills near Turnbull Canyon, killing all 29 passengers on April 16, 1952. [16]

In the 1953 film adaptation of H. G. Wells' science-fiction novel The War of the Worlds , the Puente Hills was the location of an unsuccessful attempt to use a nuclear bomb against the Martian invaders. [17]

It was one of the sites for Nike anti-aircraft missiles in the 1950s till the late 1960s. [18]

In the scene from Back to the Future (1985 film), Doc Brown introduces the iconic Delorean time machine in the parking lot of Puente Hills Mall. [19]

The October 1987 Whittier Narrows Earthquake revealed a previously unrecognized fault line under the Puente Hills Area. [20] [21]

It was the location of one of the largest landfills in the U.S. before shutting down in 2013. [22] [23]

Nearby ranges

See also

Related Research Articles

Rowland Heights, California Place in California, United States

Rowland Heights is an unincorporated area in and below the Puente Hills in the San Gabriel Valley, in Los Angeles County, California, United States. The population was 48,231 at the 2020 census. Rowland Heights is in the Los Angeles metropolitan area and represented by the County of Los Angeles and is the largest census designated place in Los Angeles County by area and the county's fourth largest CDP by population. The area has a high Taiwanese population and was known as “Little Taipei” in the 1980s and 1990s, when it saw an influx of wealthy immigrants from Taiwan.

Brea, California City in California, United States

Brea is a city in northern Orange County, California. The population as of the 2010 census was 39,282. It is 33 miles (53 km) southeast of Los Angeles. Brea is part of the Los Angeles metropolitan area.

Hacienda Heights, California Place in California, United States

Hacienda Heights is an unincorporated suburban community in Los Angeles County, California, United States. As of the 2010 census, the community had a total population of 54,038, up from 53,122 at the 2000 census. For statistical purposes, the Census Bureau has defined Hacienda Heights as a census designated place (CDP). It is the second largest CDP in Los Angeles County by area and the county's fourth largest CDP by population.

San Gabriel Valley Populated valley in Southern California, United States

The San Gabriel Valley is one of the principal valleys of Southern California, lying generally to the east of the city of Los Angeles. Surrounding features include:

Chino Hills State Park State park in Southern California, United States

Chino Hills State Park is a state park of California, in the United States. It is located in the Chino Hills, foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains. It is a critical link in the Chino–Puente Hills wildlife corridor, and a major botanical habitat reserve for resident and migrating wildlife.

Chino Hills Hill range of the Transverse Ranges in California, United States

The Chino Hills are a mountain range on the border of Orange, Los Angeles, and San Bernardino counties, California, with a small portion in Riverside County. The Chino Hills State Park preserves open space and habitat in them.

The Wilderness Society (United States) American non-profit organization

The Wilderness Society is an American non-profit land conservation organization that is dedicated to protecting natural areas and federal public lands in the United States. They advocate for the designation of federal wilderness areas and other protective designations, such as for national monuments. They support balanced uses of public lands, and advocate for federal politicians to enact various land conservation and balanced land use proposals. The Wilderness Society also engages in a number of ancillary activities, including education and outreach, and hosts one of the most valuable collections of Ansel Adams photographs at their headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Puente Hills Landfill Largest landfill in the United States

Puente Hills Landfill was the largest landfill in the United States, rising 500 feet high and covering 700 acres (2.8 km2). Originally opened in 1957 in a back canyon in the Puente Hills, the landfill was made to meet the demands of urbanization and waste-disposal east of Los Angeles. By the 1990s, the landfill became an artificial mountain visible around the San Gabriel Valley region. Puente Hills accepted four million tons of waste in 2005. As of October 31, 2013, its operating permit was terminated and it no longer accepts new refuse. The former landfill is in the process of becoming a natural habitat preservation area.

The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) is the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) of six of the ten counties in Southern California, serving Imperial County, Los Angeles County, Orange County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County, and Ventura County. San Diego County's MPO is the San Diego Association of Governments, which is an unrelated agency.

Olinda, Brea, California Neighborhood of Brea in Orange County, California, United States

Olinda is a neighborhood in Brea, California, located on Carbon Canyon Road east of the rest of the city. The original village was founded in the 1890s and grew when petroleum was discovered at the adjacent Brea-Olinda Oil Field. In February 1917, Olinda Village and the nearby town of Randolph were incorporated as the city of Brea. The site is now registered as California Historical Landmark #918 registered on January 1. 1978.

Freeway Complex Fire

The Freeway Complex Fire was a 2008 wildfire in the Santa Ana Canyon area of Orange County, California. The fire started as two separate fires on November 15, 2008. The Freeway Fire started first shortly after 9am with the Landfill Fire igniting approximately 2 hours later. These two separate fires merged a day later and ultimately destroyed 314 residences in Anaheim Hills and Yorba Linda.

The Whittier Conservancy is a coalition of citizens in the city of Whittier, California. It was formed after the Whittier Narrows earthquake of October 1, 1987, which had led to the destruction of many historic buildings in Whittier, including the Lindley Building, one of Whittier's "Four Bricks", and the landmark Whittier Theater. In 1989, the Conservancy assisted the City to rezone the residential neighborhoods north of Hadley Street to protect this vital area from rampant, uncontrolled apartment construction. The Conservancy spearheaded the preservation of the historic Whittier Depot and the McGee House. Though primarily a historic preservation organization, the Conservancy is also interested in open space preservation, and is involved in the continuing movement to preserve the Whittier Hills as part of the Puente-Chino Hills Wildlife Corridor

The San Rafael Hills are a mountain range in Los Angeles County, California. They are one of the lower Transverse Ranges, and are parallel to and below the San Gabriel Mountains, adjacent to the San Gabriel Valley overlooking the Los Angeles Basin.

Puente Hills Fault Geological fault in California, United States

The Puente Hills Fault is an active geological fault that is located in the Los Angeles Basin in California. The thrust fault was discovered in 1999 and runs about 40 km (25 mi) in three discrete sections from the Puente Hills region in the southeast to just south of Griffith Park in the northwest. The fault is known as a blind thrust fault, as the fault plane does not extend to the surface. Large earthquakes on the fault are relatively infrequent but computer modeling has indicated that a major event could have substantial impact in the Los Angeles area. The fault is now thought to be responsible for one moderate earthquake in 1987 and another light event that took place in 2010, with the former causing considerable damage and deaths.

Brea-Olinda Oil Field

The Brea-Olinda Oil Field is a large oil field in northern Orange County and Los Angeles County, California, along the southern edge of the Puente Hills, about four miles (6 km) northeast of Fullerton, and adjacent to the city of Brea. Discovered in 1880, the field is the sixteenth largest in California by cumulative production, and was the first of California's largest 50 oil fields to be found. It has produced over 412 million barrels of oil in the 130 years since it was first drilled, and retains approximately 19 million barrels in reserve recoverable with current technology. As of the beginning of 2009, 475 wells remained active on the field, operated by several independent oil companies, including Linn Energy, BreitBurn Energy Partners L.P., Cooper & Brain, and Thompson Energy.

The Olinda Landfill is a landfill situated in Orange County, California, west of the northern portion of Chino Hills State Park in Carbon Canyon in Olinda neighborhood of Brea City.

Peter F. Schabarum American football player and politician (1929–2021)

Peter Frank Schabarum was an American football player and politician who was a member of the California State Assembly and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

Turnbull Canyon

Turnbull Canyon is a 4 mile loop trail located near Whittier, California and is part of Puente Hills Preserve. It lies in the northern-central part of the preserve, and is an east-west canyon with relatively steep drainage. The canyon has a creek at its bottom that supports a narrow strip of riparian woodland dominated by sycamore trees, while the slopes are covered in coastal sage and native and non-native grasses.

Arroyo Conejo Open Space Park in Ventura County, California, United States of America

Arroyo Conejo Open Space is a 302-acre (122 ha) open space reserve in the western Simi Hills in northern Newbury Park, Ventura County, California. Most of it is part of the 250-acre (100 ha) Arroyo Conejo Nature Preserve.

2014 La Habra earthquake Earthquake in California, U.S.

The 2014 La Habra earthquake was a magnitude 5.1 earthquake that occurred on March 28, 2014, at 9:09:42 p.m. PDT. Although given the name "La Habra" it was centered in Brea, a city in northern Orange County. Despite its moderate magnitude, it had a maximum Mercalli intensity of VII, and caused a total of $10.8 million in damages. Thirteen water mains broke in Fullerton, forcing roughly 70 families to be displaced from their homes after they were declared temporarily uninhabitable.


  1. "Puente Hills". Geographic Names Information System . United States Geological Survey . Retrieved 2009-05-03.
  2. Muns, Bob. "Flora of the Skyline Trail, Puente Hills, Los Angeles County". Tom Chester. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
  3. www.npr.org "The Nation's Largest Landfill Beckons Tourists"- access date: 6/7/2010
  4. Puentehillslandfill.org . access date: 6/7/2010
  5. Habitatauthority.org: Puente Hills Native Habitat Preserve homepage + activities access date: 6/7/2010
  6. Habitatauthority.org: park map Archived 2011-05-27 at the Wayback Machine
  7. Habitatauthority.org: image Archived 2011-05-27 at the Wayback Machine . access date: 6/7/2010
  8. LAMountains.com: Hellman Wilderness Park
  9. Puente Hills Habitat Preservation Authority website
  10. Hiking Around Turnbull Canyon Trail in Hellman Wilderness Park, Whittier.
  11. "Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation -Parks - Full List of Parks - Peter F. Schabarum Regional Park". Archived from the original on 2014-04-07. Retrieved 2014-05-16.
  12. Schabarum Regional Park Support Foundation
  13. Holman, W.H. (1943). Whittier Oil Field, in Geologic Formations and Economic Development of the Oil and Gas Fields of California, Bulletin 118. San Francisco: State of California Dept. of Natural Resources Division of Mines. pp. 288–291.
  14. Michael Keating. Black Gold in the Golden State:The role of oil in the development of the Puente Hills. Claremont College History Department (2006). https://habitatauthority.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/petroleum_history.pdf
  15. John Garside & Marty Shields. Forgotten Tales - The Electrodome. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bb-beiXJMDg
  16. John Garside & Marty Shields. Forgotten Tales - The Crash of Flight 416 West. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWCVhJlRdpQ
  17. Trailers from Hell - War of the Worlds. https://trailersfromhell.com/the-war-of-the-worlds/
  18. John Garside & Marty Shields. Forgotten Tales - Nike Missile Bases LA-29 & LA-14. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9kaoBeklaMo
  19. Lindsay Blake. Go Back to the Future with these L.A. Film Locations (March 2019). https://www.discoverlosangeles.com/things-to-do/go-back-to-the-future-with-these-la-film-locations
  20. Etheredge, E. C.; Porcella, R. L. (1987), Strong-motion data from the October 1, 1987 Whittier Narrows earthquake, Geological Survey Open-File Report OSMS 87-616, United States Geological Survey, pp. 1, 3
  21. John Garside & Marty Shields. Forgotten Tales - Quake City '87. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zudkNi6OVyE
  22. Carlo Alcos. The World's Most Offensive Landfills (2009). https://matadornetwork.com/change/the-worlds-most-offensive-landfills/
  23. The Atlantic. Touring the Largest Active Landfill in America. (April 5, 2013). https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/04/touring-the-largest-active-landfill-in-america/274731/