Tag Archives: pinos

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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Central Coast California

Central Coast Mountains / Central Coast Cali

Within 40 miles from the Santa Barbara coast are mountains that reach near 9000′ elevation, the tallest in Kern County. Mount Pinos & Mt Able, as well as the Sespe, Dick Smith, San Rafael, Matilija & Chumash Wilderness Areas, make up this southern portion of Los Padres National Forest. There are plenty of tiny, primitive campgrounds that offer seclusion for RVs & car campers. 4×4 camps, OHV routes & parks, plus numerous Wilderness areas that will suit everyone’s need for the outdoors. A great drive for accessing this area is Hwy 33 North from Ojai.

Further up the coast is the northern section of Los Padres National Forest – which is the mountainous back drop to the magnificent Big Sur coastline. If you are seeking to camp near Big Sur without the fees of a developed Campground, these dirt road ridge lines may be your saving grace… if you don’t mind roughing it. Views over the ocean & coastline are even more spectacular than from Hwy 1, but campfire restriction can be tight in summer & fall months. There are plenty lodging opportunities, historic lodges, cabins or luxury RV parks, located in the small towns along the coast.

Both Los Padres forest north & south are open all year long for recreation & camping. Only one town in this region, Pine Mountain Club, gets considerable amounts of snow (roads may be impassable without chains, AWD or 4×4). Central Coast icon Big Sur with Hwy 1 is prone to mud & rock slides during heavy rains, so plan for alternate routes & check road conditions w/ CalTrans when traveling during inclement weather.

Central Coast forest & parks –

Los Padres National Forest
Andrew Molera State Park
Julia Pfieffer Burns State Park
Limekiln State Park
Pfieffer Big Sur State Park
San Simeon State Park

Moonstone Beach Cambria

Central Coast maps & trails –

Central Coast towns nearby –
Big Sur, Cambria, Frazier Park, Gorda, Gorman, Ojai, New Cuyama, Pine Mountain, San Simeon, Ventucopa

Milpotrero

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 –

 

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View Chumash Wilderness Area in a larger map