Mount Pinos is a peak that attracts more than its fair share of visitors. These visitors come to California mountains such as Pinos to enjoy such activities as skiing, mountain biking, and stargazing. Hiking is also a popular pursuit, especially since it isn’t possible to drive up to the summit area. Instead, anyone wishing to reach the top of Mount Pinos must execute a hike of approximately two miles along a dirt road.
Situated on the border of Ventura and Kern counties in Southern California, Mount Pinos rises to an elevation of 8,831 feet above sea level and is one of the highest mountains in the area. Surrounding it is the Los Padres National Forest. It’s a wonderfully scenic area and one that encourages a variety of fun outdoor pursuits. Among these pursuits are skiing and wildlife viewing. In relation to wildlife viewing, the birdwatching is particularly good, as the Mount Pinos area is home northern goshawks, no less than five owl species, and California Condors.
As for skiing, there isn’t an established ski resort of any kind on Mount Pinos. About the only service is a free shuttle that takes people to a Ski Patrol hut. From there, you’re pretty much on your own. Maps detailing the skiing areas can be purchased at the Ski Patrol hut, and there are trails of both the downhill and the cross-country variety.
Anyone who is trying to plan a visit to Mount Pinos might start their adventure in Los Angeles or Bakersfield. These are the two largest cities in the region, and both offer easy access to the Mount Pinos area via Interstate 5. The parking area for those who wish to hike up the mountain is found at the end of Los Padres National Forest Road S349S. From this parking area, it is possible to find the dirt road leading to the summit. For those who wish to do some stargazing, the viewing area that most people use is actually a tree-surrounded parking area some two miles east of Mount Pinos.
As a side note, Mount Pinos visitors can look to do some camping while in the area. The campgrounds of choice include the Mt. Pinos Campground and the McGill Campground. Both can be found less than 20 miles west of Frazier Park and offer tent and RV sites. Also worth noting is the fact that there is a fee to access the Mount Pinos park area. The required passes can be purchased at area sporting goods stores and at the ranger station in Lockwood Valley.
Image: dsearls, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 (flickr)