Tag Archives: Pine Mountain Club

Cerro Noroeste Road

Fresh Blacktop 2011

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.

HUDSON RANCH ROAD

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.

Best Sunset Drives
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.

CerroNoroeste

nearby towns:

Pine Mountain Club, CA
Frazier Park, CA
Ventucopa, CA
Taft, CA
New Cuyama, CA

Chumash Wilderness

Chumash Wilderness
Los Padres National Forest

38,150 acres
Mount Pinos – 8831′ elevation
Cerro Noroeste – 8286′ elevation
Los Padres National Forest

Terrain consists of high mountain peaks, badlands of Quatal Canyon Wash & Lockwood Valley; Steep slopes of forests, rock outcroppings, sparse forest areas, on border of Kern County & Ventura County. This area is sacred to the native California Chumash tribe.

Quatal Canyon Rd #9N09

DSCN0042Mount Pinos, Mount Abel, Cerro Noroeste, Westside Park, Hudson Ranch Road, Mil Potrero Highway, Lockwood Valley Road, East Dry Canyon, Apache Canyon, Cuyama River

campgrounds nearby –

The Peak to Peak Hike is a 7 mile, high elevation, ridge line day hike that traversed 2 of the tallest peaks in Kern County – Mt Pinos (elevation 8831′) and Mt Abel (8286′). Day hikes, equestrian trails, backpacking, mountain biking areas nearby. Steep, granite, chaparral, lightly forested w/ ponderosa and Jeffrey pines. From this ridge trail you have a 360 degree view over the entire region. The cabin community of Pine Mountain Club is to the north side (and IF the skies are really clear, you can see the Sierra Nevada mountain range too); Lockwood Valley & Ozena Valley are located to the south; Cuyama Valley to the west and the Tejon Pass w/ Frazier Park to the east.

Off road use 4×4, dirt bikes, ATVs, and quads are common in Quatal Canyon, Apache Canyon, East Dry Canyon leading up to the wilderness edge. Rangers will ticket if they find you on the Chumash side of Quatal wash. The secluded yet inviting, wide, white sandy washes are just too tempting for some bad boys.

Chumash trailheads are located

  • about a mile before Camp-O-Alto Campground (Mount Abel)
  • along lower end of Quatal Canyon Wash (OHV areas parallel)

nearby towns –

 

DSCN0060


View Chumash Wilderness Area in a larger map

9N09 – Los Padres NF

Quatal Canyon

Quattale

Quatal Cyn: Forest Road #9N09 – Los Padres National Forest

Toad Spring Campground is located at high elevations (5700′) of Quatal Canyon, on a dirt road, half mile off the pavement of Cerro Noroeste Rd. The Chumash Wilderness, the Cuyama River Valley, Apache Saddle, Mount Abel plus the Bittercreek National Wildlife Refuge all surround this region. Los Padres National Forest meets the vineyards, orchards & farmlands, near Ventucopa. This is the badlands – 18 mile scenic dirt road, well signed at Hwy 33 & mostly graded. Quatal Cyn connects Ojai’s Highway 33 to the pinyon pine forest above near Pine Mountain Club (@ nearly a straight line?) Motorcycle dirt bikes & off-roaders dig this place. Street bikes will prefer paved Cerro Noroeste which runs the rim above to the north.

This major dirt road is not gated at either end, but winter sometimes closes the route due to snow depth. It never stays closed very long, as some beefy 4×4 will break thru the snow berm soon enough. Top elevation @ Cerro Noreste is approximately 5500′.

Quatal Canyon (possible Chumash word for Snake) is a giant high desert wash, ripping down from Cerro Noroeste (aka Mt Abel). Serious erosion w/ San Andreas fault lines – make it a very interesting canyon to explore on foot, horseback, motorbike, or mountain bike. The lupine & wildflowers here are incredible in late Spring in this red dirt canyon. Both nearby mountain peaks of Mount Abel & Mount Pinos are the tallest in Kern County.

This rugged primitive canyon gets torn up during a good storm in late summer or a big winter storm. Red dirt gets very slippery – especially on the edges of a cliff. Boulders in the road, flash floods – or no road, river of mud! 2WD passenger cars can take this route in dry months, but high clearance is usually preferred. 4×4 is needed during heavy rain or snow – which could be half the year (Nov-April). Flash flooding is possible all over Los Padres NF, so know the weather forecast in advance.

Seen small RVs, trucks pulling trailers & even a U-haul moving truck down this way. MapQuest always amazes me where they route you. This is a graded dirt road, some of the time. MapQuest should post a ‘see Total Escape for this route’. Come on folks, if you’re traveling cross-country, while moving your residence, buy a real map to explore the National Forests of California. You may end up sleeping way out here – broken down in the moving van, in the boonies & no cell coverage, cuz you had a one page, wrinkled map in faded ink, wet & smeared. And MapQuest told you it was paved. It’s not paved 90% of the way.

Primitive camping is also allowed in the canyon wash or on the side routes, in certain seasons. Use an existing camp site when possible. Clean out the rock fire ring of litter & bottles, pull back all dry brush at camps & leave these places better than you found ’em. There are hundreds of dispersed campsites out here. The open wash is especially nice on a full moon hike, just bring friends – cuz it is considered “big cat country”. Camp fire restrictions are in tight control on this SoCal region. You will need a camp fire permit, a big shovel & lotsa water. Check with the Los Padres rangers to make sure. Recently Zaca Fire (2007) & the month long Day Fire (2006) both came very close to this precious sanctuary.

The high desert terrain is pinyon forest, with yucca & manzanita. The eroded cliffs of red rock, white & orange hues, glow best during the clearest sunsets. You will almost think your in Utah, until you get up on a ridge & see the smog in the Central Valley of California.

Mahu Tasen, a Native American camp and sweat lodge, has ceremonial grounds in a canyon off of Quatal. There is also a large rock quarry mining operation, as well as numerous wineries and ranches along this route. Several private residences too.

Ballinger Canyon OHV Park is close by, 5 miles N on Hwy 33

Carrizo Plain National Monument is also pretty close, N off Hwy 166

towns nearby –

PINE MOUNTAIN CA

MARICOPA CA

VENTUCOPA CA

helpful maps of the region –

Quatal Chumash Lands