Mount Pinos

Mt. Pinos

Sierra Views from Pinos
Originally uploaded by danamight

Mount Pinos Recreation Area

The Mt Pinos Recreation Area is located on the border of Southern and Central California, inside Los Padres National Forest. After passing Frazier Park, the winding, paved, mountain road starts atop Cuddy Valley and is approximately 12 miles from Interstate 5 @ Tejon Pass. The 8831′ peak is the tallest in Kern County and is a popular spot for both summer and winter recreation: cross country skiing, snow shoeing, backpacking, hiking, mountain biking. The snow gates often close during heavy snow.

Mount Pinos Road starts atop Cuddy Valley Rd, at the “Y” – where it intersects with Mil Potrero Highway, which heads out to Pine Mountain Club, California. One mile up the Mount Pinos route, you will find McGill trailhead on the right side (it is popular w/ mountain bikers) and then the first snow gate at Burbank Rd. Another 4 miles up hill, you come to the only set of dirt roads accessible on this range. A left turn will take you winding thru pine forest to the valley below. 4×4 is not required, but a National Forest map is very handy. Unfortunately all the private properties at the bottom have locked gates & no thru access to Cuddy Valley is allowed, but it is an awesome drive to just go exploring in the woods.

Back on the main route, shortly after the dirt roads is McGill Campground on the right side & another snow gate. In another mile and a half you will reach Mt Pinos Campground on the left side; the entrance is easy to miss. From here you are less than 2 miles from the end of the main road.

Mountain Bike, Hike, Backpack, Camp, XC Ski, Snow Sled

Darkest Skies for Stargazing in Southern California

The huge paved parking lot is the dead end (2 miles from the peak of Pinos) – very popular with astronomers, mountain bikers, plus the families and snow sledders in winter (if the gates are open). A National Ski Patrol’s Nordic Base, the only building you will see up this way. At 8300′ elevation, the large parking area is perfect overnight spot for amateur astronomers, so be considerate when visiting night. New moon (no moon) weekends APR-OCT are optimal viewing months. In busy summer months you can often find motorhome campers all set up with expensive equipment tracking the heavens all night long. Please be respectful of their hobby & eyes; Turn off headlights when you approach the parking area at night.

There is also a hike-in, freebie camp ground called Chula Vista; an easy quarter mile walk from the parking lot to 12 camp sites & a pit toilet. Mountain bikes dig this area too. A large meadow here blooms with wild irises in summer, only sometimes.



Trail 21W03 Mt Pinos

Originally uploaded by danamight

ROAD CONDITIONS to Mount Pinos, call the rangers 661-245-3731

Pinos – Peak to Peak Hike

The trailhead for Pinos Summit starts at this parking lot. It is a 2 mile moderate, but steep hike on an old fire road. The neighboring peak to the west is called Mount Abel @ 8286′ elevation (aka Cerro Noroeste). The infamous peak to peak hike along the ridge line from Mt Pinos to Mt Abel is 6.5 miles one way – and very popular in summer months. This hike requires 4-6 hours & a car shuttle should be arranged in advance. The Chumash Wilderness sits between Mount Pinos and the tiny community of Pine Mountain, which can be seen below on many places along the hike.

There are 3 developed campgrounds in the Mount Pinos Recreation Area:

CAMPGROUND RESERVATIONS

McGill Campground accepts reservations online. Campgrounds are often closed during winter months, due to snow. (Oct-April)

DARK NIGHT SKIES: Amateur Astronomers Info

MAPS: Los Padres National Forest Map

NEAREST TOWNS:

Chumash Wilderness

Mt Abel trailhead looking East to the Mount Pinos range. Pine Mountain Club, and the Sierra Nevada mountains can both be seen from this vantage point

Nettle Springs Campground

Nettle Springs

Apache Canyon Campsites

Cuyama Camping near Highway 33

Los Padres National Forest 

Way back off there beyond the boonies, 10 miles on a bumpy dirt road #8N06, and far from the pavement. Seclusion, peace and quiet, plus privacy is what this canyon can offer. This small campground is rarely busy, unless a huge family or hunting group has taken over camp. Most of the time it’s so quiet you can hear the wind in the trees, birds chirping and bugs buzzing.

N of Ojai (about an hour), scenic drive Highway 33 N of Ozena @ Lockwood is a little-known signed route called Apache Canyon. Los Padres Road #8N06 leads from the south end of Cuyama River Valley east to the dead end badlands canyon w/ Nettle Springs Camp. OHV trails and Chumash Wilderness access.

Elevation: 4,400′
Number of Sites: 8
Camping Reservations: No
Sites Available: First come, First serve
Vehicle Accessibility: small RV ok
Length of Stay: 14 Days
Water: No Piped; seasonal creek iffy
Toilet: Vault
Season: Open all year
Fee: No
Operated By: National Forest Service
Closest Towns: Frazier Park, CA & Ojai, CA

Los Padres National Forest
Lockwood Ranger Station
661-245-3731

Secluded Campground and Spacious Camp Sites

 

 

 

Dome Springs Campground

Domesprings

Los Padres NF – Frazier Park Camping

Dome Springs Campground

Los Padres Forest Rd #8N40

North of Lockwood Valley Rd. 20 miles W of Frazier Park, CA

Free, small campgrounds are abundant inside the Los Padres. Pinyon pine forest & a wide high desert wash, steep canyons and mountain wilderness. Kern County’s highest peak sits nearby @ Mount Pinos 8831′, with neighboring Mount Able 8286′ directly west of Pinos. Peak to Peak hike is a popular attraction for day hikers and backpackers alike.

Saabaru Off-Roader

Lockwood Valley Camping

free campground  / badlands terrain

When mountain winter temps set in (around the holiday season), camping overnight in the low lands might be more appealing. Domesprings is a perfect camp spot for car campers, off roaders, hunters or even mountain bikers. OHV trails, target shooting areas are abundant, as well as hiking and stargazing opportunities. The main wash is called Dry Canyon, which is nice when there has been some mild rain for minimal dust. No motor bike, vehicles or bicycles in the neighboring Chumash Wilderness, which borders this region on the north next to Mt Pinos.

Dome Springs – Dry Canyon main access road #8N40 can be sandy at times and 4×4 might be needed to reach camp during drier months. Snow or wet weather might also pose a problem with this road, so always check weather and call the rangers ahead of time to find out current road conditions. Most of the time you can get back here with a low rider passenger car.

Elevation: 4,585′
Number of Sites: 4
Camping Reservations: No
Sites Available: First come, First serve
Vehicle Accessibility: small RVs
Length of Stay: 14 Days
Water: No Piped; seasonal creek iffy
Toilet: Vault
Season: Open all year
Fee: No
Operated By: National Forest Service
Closest Town: Frazier Park, CA

Los Padres National Forest
Lockwood Ranger Station
661-245-3731

camp

2 other big washes off this mountain ridge are –

Apache Canyon Road #8N06Nettle Spring Campground, running to the west.

Quatal Canyon Road #9N09Toad Spring Campground, running to the west.

 

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