Tag Archives: mount pinos

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 could be very handy. Unfortunately all the private properties at the bottom have locked gates & no thru access to Cuddy Valley is allowed. Although it is an awesome drive to just go exploring in the woods, there is no way out (once you get down the hill), so you must return the same way you came.

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.

hiker

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.

camp

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

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

DARK NIGHT SKIES: Amateur Astronomers unite!

thebigboys
Pinos star gazers out in force
summitsign
Hiking Trails to Mount Pinos, California

 

drummersout
Drummers Solstice Campout

flagspinos

LOS PADRES MAPS:

Los Padres National Forest Map

Los Padres Forest Topo Atlas

NatGeo Los Padres East Map 

Sespe Wilderness Trail Map

Dick Smith Wilderness 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

see the neighboring mountain peak, Mount Abel

Camp O Alto @ Cerro Noroeste

Mount Pinos Recreation

Mount Pinos Camping

Mt Pinos Campgrounds – Los Padres Camping

A little bit of high altitude, alpine forests in Southern Cal. Mount Pinos campgrounds are the ones on the way up to Mt Pinos 8831′ on the paved route to the top parking lot, Mount Pinos Road. Only 2 campgrounds take reservations & can be busy in summer months. Chula Vista Camp (at the top parking lot, short walk on trail) has an amazing wildflower meadow w/ group camp area. Drum circles are common on summer weekends.

  • backpacking
  • camping
  • hiking
  • mountain biking
  • sledding & snow play
  • stargazing

Drum Circle Camp

Mount Pinos parking lot is well known among RVers, astronomers & cross country skiers. If the 2 snow gates are open, you’ll find RVs camping out here until winter officially starts. The peak to peak trail from Mt Pinos to Mt Abel 8243′ starts at this parking area & trail head. Cool ski hut that no Forest Personnel every seems to be operating. Portable toilets available.

Pinos Star Party
Pinos Star Party

In the mid-winter, snow is almost guaranteed up here. Families & sledders flock to this region for snow play causing major traffic jams & parking problems. On the busiest of weekends w/ a recent snow storm, you may find several miles of vehicles, backed up from Pinos to the freeway (causing 10 miles of traffic jam in the mountains). It is not uncommon to see CHP managing traffic flow on the weekend. Snow play areas are located at the top on Pinos, if the gates are open.

If not the “Y” – where Cuddy Valley meets Mil Potrero Hwy. is the main snow-play destination. This is a very busy intersection at all times of the year, as it is the main route entering Pine Mountain Club, located 5 miles to the west. Be considerate! Do not litter and please park OFF THE PAVEMENT; keep kiddies, sleds & BBQs out of the road ways.

campground elev spots veg toilet water notes
Chula Vista Campground 8300′ 12 pines vault no walk-in camps & RV lot
McGill Campground 7500′ 50 pines vault seasonal closed in winter
Mount Pinos Campground 7800′ 19 pine vault seasonal closed in winter
Trails on Pinos
Trails on Pinos

The pinyon pine forests surrounding Mount Pinos Recreation Area is Los Padres National Forest, where there is every kinda camping imaginable. Outdoor resorts such as Pine Mountain Club & Mil Potrero Campground all the way over to rugged backpacking, or back road motorcycle 4×4 camps – with maybe one camp fire ring (still intact). Windwolves Preserve, Quatal Canyon, Cerro Noroeste, Lockwood & Cuyama Valley.

Group Camping Sites in Los Padres Forest

Winter Snows
Winter Snows – Gates Close

map of the regions –

Sierras from Pinos
Sierra Nevada Mountains, as seen from Pinos Road

nearby towns –

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Frazier Park Camping

Mount Pinos Camping & Frazier Park Campgrounds

Hiking Pinos Signs
Frazier Park and neighboring towns, like freeway-close Lebec and Gorman, is where the Los Angeles hills meet the Kern County mountains. Mojave Desert meets to Coastal Range. EXIT I-5 @ Tejon Pass (elev 4144′)

Wildflower hills, seasonal creeks, forested peaks, high desert canyons. Bike trails, hike trails, off road routes. High elevation backpacking, hang gliding, mountain biking and camping in every direction.

MTB SOCAL
Mountain Bikers love the trails at Mount Pinos.

High desert washes, oak creeks, pinyon pine forests, mountain meadows and numerous peaks – Frazier Peak, Reyes Peak, Alamo Mountain, Mount Pinos, Mount Abel (Cerro Noroeste) and north facing San Emigdio ridge.

Mt. Pinos District:

campground elev spots veg toilet water notes
Aliso Park, Cuyama 3200′ 11 oak pit no Aliso Cyn Rd. (#10N04)
Ballinger OHV Camp 3000′ 20 pinyon vault no Rd# 9N10, Cuyama Valley
Camp-O Alto 8286′ 12 jefferey pit no ridge, Cerro Noroeste
Caballo Campground 5850′ 5 oaks pit no Rd# 9N27, Cerro Noroeste
Cherry Creek 4×4 5200′ 2 oak no spring 4WD trail, Cuddy Valley
Chuchapate Campground 6000′ 30 pines vault piped Rd# 8N04, closed winter
Chula Vista Walk-In Camp 8300′ 12 pines vault no walk-in camps & RV lot
Cottonwood Campground 4600′ 2 ctnwd no creek 4WD only trail, fish
Dome Springs Camp 4800′ 4 oak pit no Rd# 8N40, Lockwood
Dutchman Camp 6800′ 8 pines no no Rd# 7N01, 4WD trails
Half Moon Campground 4700′ 10 pines pit no Rd #7N03, May-Oct
Kings Campground 4250′ 7 pinyon vault no OHV & Piru Creek
Marian Campground 6600′ 5 pine pit no closed in winter
McGill Campground 7500′ 50+ pine vault seasonal mountain biking
Mount Pinos Campground 7800′ 19 pine vault seasonal closed winter
Nettle Springs Camp 4400′ 9 pinyon vault no Rd# 8N06, Apache Cyn
Ozena Campground 3660′ 12 cottnwd vault no Lockwood Rd
Pine Springs Camp 5800′ 12 pinyon pit no Road #7N03
Pleito Campsite 5000′ 2 mixed no no dirt rd access, dispersed
Rancho Nuevo 3550′ 2 mixed no no river crossing
Reyes Creek 4000′ 30 oaks vault yes creek camping
Reyes Peak Pine Mt 5200′ 6 pines none no ridge camping
Salt Creek 4×4 3000′ 2 mixed no no 4WD only
Sunset Campground 4300′ 2 cottonwd no no Lockwood / Piru Creek
Thorn Meadows 5000′ 5 pine pit no Rd# 7N03C, horse corral
Tinta Campground 3600′ 3 pinyon pit no river crossing
Toad Springs Camp 5700′ 5 pinyon pit no Rd# 9N09, Quatal Cyn
Twin Pines Camp 6600′ 5 pine vault no Dry weather only
Valle Vista Camp 4800′ 7 mixed pit no condors, new toilet

See Mount Pinos Recreation Campgrounds only

Group Camping Sites in Los Padres Forest

Map of Los Padres NF –nettle spring camp

Los Padres mountain towns –

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Toad Springs Campground atop Quatal Canyon. Small camps located in Los Padres NF have no fees, and often no toilets – so bring the shovel.

Many dirt roads are gated seasonally for wet weather or snow. Call rangers to find out which routes are open before you plan your weekend. Or have a plan B and C camp site ready if route is closed. Flashfloods, thunderstorms, and erosion means you may all-of-a-sudden need to use your 4WD. This is the mountains after all. UNpredictable weather is common.

frazier park camping

Primitive Camping in Quatal Wash, next to the OHV Route and the Chumash Wilderness

PeaktoPeak
Peak-to-Peak Hike: the toughest climb you’ll do, this decade.


West Kern

festivals kern

CA Kern / western Kern county

Kern County is known for its oil, its agriculture, and outdoor recreation. The Kern River is the highlight of the region with lush, green and grey granite canyons, a big reservoir & the Sequoia trees just up the road. On the western side of Kern County are small towns like Frazier Park, the golfing cabin community of Pine Mountain Club, plus the oil meccas of Maricopa and Taft. Expansive Lockwood Valley enters into Ventura County. Cuyama River borders Santa Barbara & SLO counties.

Much of the western Kern area is rural ranch land, desert or forest. Los Padres National Forest, Chumash Wilderness, Bittercreek Wildlife Refuge, Wind Wolves Preserve, Buena Vista Reservoir, Ballinger Canyon, Hungry Valley and Fort Tejon State Park all call this region home, right on the mighty tangent of the San Andreas fault line. The San Emigdio range and the surrounding mountains of Mt Pinos and Mount Able design a perpendicular range to the Central Cali coastline, connecting the huge Mojave desert to the ocean. Cerro Noroeste is a very scenic drive.

The 17 mile long Quatal Canyon, where the indian camp of Mahu Tasen hosts a Bear Dance every summer is also a wild place of bird watching, camping and hunting. The indian word for Mount Pinos is “Iwihinmu” – a sacred spot for Chumash Indians, as well as others; Chumash call it the ‘center of the world’. Locals respond regularly with music, hikes, star gazing, drum circles (seasonally) and local festivals (annually) .

PHOTOS: Los Padres Photos | Miller Jeep Trail Off Roading Photos

Drum Camp Pinos | Drumming Cerro Noroeste

Tecuya Ridge

Tecuya Ridge, Cuddy Valley 4×4 trails can keep you busy for a whole weekend of back road exploring.

boating, camping, dirt biking, fishing, hiking, horseback, hunting, mountain biking, off roading, skydiving, xc skiing

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Quatal Canyon

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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