Scenic Drive California: Cerro Noroeste
Tejon Pass, Frazier Mountain, Tecuya, San Emigdio, Mount Pinos, Apache Saddle, Mount Abel, Quatal Canyon, BitterCreek, Klipstein Canyon
Los Padres NF – Cerro Noroeste Road #9N05
One of the best driving roads in Central California!
Motorcycles love this route.
Los Padres National Forest stretches from Ojai to Monterey, mostly along the California Central Coast. If you are traveling on Interstate 5 (atop the Grapevine, Tejon Pass) and you wanted to head westbound, then you really want to take this scenic route.
Exit Frazier Park Rd @ Lebec, on the top of the Grapevine (Interstate 5 N of jct Hwy 138). Proceed westbound thru the Frazier Park stop sign (5 mi), up the hill past the turn off for Lockwood Valley Road. Frazier Mountain Park Road now becomes Cuddy Valley Rd, continue up to pine trees. Turn right on Mil Potrero Highway & drive thru Pine Mountain Club (4-8 mi). Continuing past the golf course, heading up to Apache Saddle.
Approximately 6000′ at a forested intersection is the ‘saddle’ with ranger station. The paved road is now considered Cerro Noroeste Road.
A left turn will bring you up to Cerro Noroeste 8286′ elevation. (10 mi/closed in winter) This mountain peak is also known as Mount Abel.
At the saddle, continuing straight (veering right) through the P&J forest (pinyon and juniper) to the gorgeous rolling hills, fog & cloudscape countryside of ..
HUDSON RANCH ROAD
WTF? Recently county authorities have renamed Cerro Noroeste Rd to Hudson Ranch Rd, which has many locals infuriated and of course, keeping visitors confused. There is a popular Hudson Ranch up near Napa Wine Country, but this is not named after that location. Rumor has it that one local family complained to Kern County about the difficulty of spelling ‘Cerro Noroeste’ for outsiders. Go figure! Want a local roadway name changed? Easier process than imagined – just file a suggestion w/ Kern County.
Bitter Creek Wildlife Area & Highway 166 (23 mi) are all out this way. Sports cars & motorcyclists love this route, so do hikers & hunters. Every weekend you can find hundreds of bikes cruising this scenic byway.
Numerous forest roads can be found out this way. Quatal Canyon #9N09 is a great side route to explore if you like long dirt roads, red dirt, lupine & pinyon pines. Chumash Wilderness backcountry access is way back in this super scenic canyon. Toad Spring Campground is a small site located near the top of the canyon, only half mile off the pavement.
Forest Road #9N27 leads up to Caballo Campground & even further out to the steep ridge line, Marion Campground & Blue Ridge 4×4 trail. Across from the Apache Saddle Ranger Station, San Emigdio dirt road #9N34 climbs to 7400′ elevation and has a great viewpoint. Unsigned San Emigdio 4×4 trail starts at the viewpoint and heads east.
Way out west on Cerro Noroeste Road is Valle Vista Campground, with new a outhouse. This small campground is perched on the edges of red cliffs overlooking the great Central Valley of California.
Klipstein Canyon, a side route/short cut to Taft, offers decent wildflower displays in springtime. San Andreas faultline uplift is also evident on this detour. Road Closed barriers seem insignificant, as many drivers just skoot around them.