Los Pinos Peak, CNF

March 10th, 2012

Los Pinos Peak, Cleveland National Forest

Lat/Lon: 33.66421°N / 117.4714°W

Elevation: 4,510 ft

Take the I-5 to Ortega Highway (California 74) exit in San Juan Capistrano and proceed east for about 22 miles till you hit the North Main Divide Road, you make a left and travel about 4 miles until you see a dirt parking lot and the gate/trailhead.

It’s a 1.5-mile hike up a dirt road to the Los Pinos Saddle. If the gate is open you can drive to the saddle, there is a small parking lot there too, but it’s such a short hike I would recommend parking at the trailhead and hiking up. The hike to the saddle is a nice one, great views, and you gain about 1,000 feet in elevation on the way up, so you get to burn a few calories.

Once you hit the saddle, it’s a mile to Los Pinos Peak. Now this part of the trail is a single-track trail, used primarily for mountain biking. You really have to watch out for the mountain bikers, because they’re moving so fast, you really have to jump out of the way. They can’t swerve to avoid you because of the sagebrush that is covering the sides of the trail in most places.

Once you hit the peak, you’ll find the marker and peak box to the left of the trail. The views are amazing. You can see San Gorgonio, San Jacinto, Santiago, Catalina and San Clemente Island. It’s really cool!

It’s a short hike, out and back is only 5.4-miles and it only took us about 2.4 hours, but it is a peak, and we like hiking to peaks. Los Pinos Peak is the 4th highest peak in the Santa Ana Mountain range.  That doesn’t mean a whole lot, but it was still a fun hike.

I liked it most because it was a nice workout. Dodging the mountain bikers was kind of a pain. I’m happy I did it, but probably wouldn’t do it again.

Don’t forget you’ll need to display your Forest Adventure Pass when parking here.

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