Hiking to Los Pinos Peak
We have been on a little bit of a travel freeze for the past couple of months, having to stay very close to home, because our cat (Zoe) broke her ankle and has needed a lot of extra care and attention. Last week she finally had her splint removed after 8 weeks (!), so we decided to go on a hike in Cleveland National Forest. Of course, this past weekend Southern California had an insane heat wave so we picked a peak to try and get a little above the heat without driving too far from our home.
The drive out to the trailhead took us past the Candy Store on Ortega Highway and up into the hills of Cleveland National Forest. The start of this trail is a fire road that is accessible with a 4x4 vehicle. While we were getting set to head out, there was a truck and a Rubicon letting air out of their tires and they headed up ahead of us. After walking up this fire road, we think we probably would’ve made it up just fine in our Subaru XV Crosstrek and shaved off 1.7 miles and some elevation gain. This road is quite steep at points.
We typically plan and pack for a hike on the night before, but this time we did not and we ended up getting to the trail around 11:00am. We got stuck hiking in the heat of the day, which is definitely not recommended for this trail. There is almost no shade along the trail. We also ran into some serious bugs all along the trail. Conveniently, our Cairn Subscription Box this past month included a BlackStrap Daily Tube face mask that worked exceptionally well keeping the bugs out of our faces and mouths and ears. It also protected our necks from getting scorched by the sun.
Once you get up the fire road portion of the trail, you climb over a teal railing and veer to your right where there is a trail marker indicating “Los Pinos Peak”. Once on the trail, it is easy to follow as there aren’t any splits. The views keep getting better and better the higher up you get, opening all the way once you get to the peak at 4,513 feet, making it the 4th highest peak in Orange County.