Los Padres National Forest

Mt. Pinos Snow Hike, 3.8 miles RT, max elevation 8,848', 515' +/-, December 30, 2018

Mt. Pinos Snow Hike, 3.8 miles RT, max elevation 8,848', 515' +/-, December 30, 2018

Today was a nice, low key snow hike around Mt. Pinos.  The weather was predicted to be in the upper 30s with wind gusts up to 30 mph.  We put on our layers and headed to Los Padres National Forest, which is just about an hour and thirty minute drive from Burbank.  We arrived at the Nordic Base around 9:30 am. This is actually a lot later then I usually like to be on the trail, but since this was going to be an easy day with not much mileage to cover, I didn’t mind sleeping in and waiting for the weather to warm up a few degrees.  Los Padres is absolutely beautiful in the snow. There was about 2 to 4 inches on the ground. We hiked the trail to the junction with the Vincent Tumamait Trail. The wind was pretty strong on the exposed switchbacks, and we did not continue on to Sawmill Mountain as we’ve done in the warmer months.  I took a lot of photos of the twisted limber pines in the snow and enjoyed the views and the crisp, winter air before heading back. It was a perfect winter day and great hike to close out the year.

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Mt. Pinos 8,831' & Sawmill Mountain 8,819', Los Padres National Forest, 8 miles RT, 1,437' +/-, July 15, 2018

Mt. Pinos 8,831' & Sawmill Mountain 8,819', Los Padres National Forest, 8 miles RT, 1,437' +/-, July 15, 2018

We headed into the local mountains on Sunday for a nice easy day of hiking in the Los Padres National Forest.  We did a short 8 mile hike to Mt. Pinos and Sawmill Mountain.  We did these peaks in May of this year and at that time we also added Grouse Mountain which completed the 3-2-1 challenge.  (Check out  mymountainchamber.com for info. on the challenge.) .  It's a lovely area to explore.  This time around the weather was much warmer then the last when it was cool and cloudy.  I got to see some butterflies and the highlight of my day, a horned lizard.  He blended in so well with his surroundings that I could barely see hime when looking through my camera lens.  After reaching Sawmill Mountain and taking in the views from there, we decided to head back before the day got too hot.  This was a nice hike to ease us back into it after an incredible 3 days spent in the Eastern Sierra.

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McGill Trail, Los Padres National Forest, 7.8 Miles RT 1,588 +/-, June 24, 2018

McGill Trail, Los Padres National Forest, 7.8 Miles RT 1,588 +/-, June 24, 2018

This Sunday we hiked the McGill Trail to McGill Campground in Los Padres National Forest.  We started out at the north trailhead just off Cuddy Valley Road.  The trail climbs a little over 1,500 feet in 3.5 miles at a moderate grade.  As soon as we started up, I immediately began to see Coronis Fritillary, Speyeria coronis butterflies.  There were tons of these bright orange beauties fluttering along the sides of the trail!  There were also many different species of Blues, the tiny thumbnail butterflies that most people probably walk right by without even noticing.  It was a warm morning, and I tried to catch a few shots along the trail without zapping my energy by spending too much time in the hot sun.  It’s very easy to get caught up trying to get that perfect butterfly shot and forget the sun is blasting down on you.  Plus we still had a lot of mileage to cover to reach our destination.  We wanted to make it up to the campground before my husband’s HAM radio club would be wrapping up their field day weekend at 11 am.  As we got higher in elevation, the wind picked up and helped keep us cool.  I believe it was around 10:30 am when we made it to the campground.  We said our hellos to the radio club and then took a nice, long relaxing break at one of the picnic tables before heading back the way we came.  The McGill trail is a beautiful trail.  It’s also popular with mountain bikers, and on this day we passed maybe a handful of riders who were very courteous of us and let us know how many others would be coming along the trail.  This was our second visit to the Los Padres National Forest.  It’s a very lovely area that we will continue to explore and I really enjoyed this trail.

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Los Padres National Forest: Mt. Pinos 8,846', Sawmill Mountain 8,819', Grouse Mountain 8,582', 11 miles RT, 2,051 +/-, May 6, 2018

Los Padres National Forest:  Mt. Pinos 8,846', Sawmill Mountain 8,819', Grouse Mountain 8,582', 11 miles RT, 2,051 +/-, May 6, 2018

It was a beautiful overcast day in Los Padres National Forest. The weather at this higher elevation was a nice break from the warmer than normal temperatures we’d been having back home. Our plan was to hike to Mt. Pinos then Sawmill Mountain with the possibility of also climbing up Grouse Mountain if we felt up for it. We got to the trailhead just before 7:30 am and got started. The hike to Mt. Pinos took us through beautiful pine forests and wide open high elevation meadows. I can imagine how beautiful it must look here when more wildflowers are blooming. Mt. Pinos is easy enough to get to since it’s mostly hiking up a gentle fire road. At the top, there are some radio towers, but the views are great. It’s said that the Chumash Indians thought that Mt. Pinos was actually the center of the universe. Interesting that now we have a radio tower up there. After Mt. Pinos, we continued on the road to the Condor Observation Site. We didn’t see any condors today, but the views continued as we hopped on the single track Vincent Tunamait Trail and headed to Sawmill Mountain. The trail starts off with some long, gently graded switchbacks that make the descent quite enjoyable. You’ll be able to take in the surrounding views as you make your way down. Eventually that nice easy grade changes and the trail becomes steeper as you continue downward into the forest where it levels out again. I really enjoyed all the bendy Limber pines and also the vanilla scented Jeffery pines throughout this whole hike. After reaching the saddle, the trail climbed steeply upward and we eventually reached the spur trail for Sawmill Mountain. We made our way up to its wide, flat summit where there’s a really big rock carin with prayer flags that have been tattered by the winds. It was quite windy today making it a little chilly, but the views were incredible! We could see all the way out to the Sierras and could even spot Mount Whitney! Amazing! After Sawmill, we headed back down into the shelter of the forest and decided to continue on to Grouse Mountain. The trail descended again and eventually, we crossed the junction to Sheep Camp and a few other trails. Before long we found the spur trail heading up to Grouse Mountain. (The Vincent Tunamait Trail keeps on going and heads downward.) The spur trail to Grouse was steep and the trail was covered in soft pine needles, but it was easy enough to follow. At the summit, there’s a register hidden in the rocks that you can sign if you so choose. It was a lovely, peaceful place to break for lunch. After our break, it was time to start heading back. We knew we had a lot of up and down climbing left to do to get back to the car. It was an extremely relaxing day in this peaceful scenic forest and a very enjoyable hike.

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