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Los Pinos Peak (Summer), Cleveland NF

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Quick but steep summit challenge, extensive vistas, wildflowers, trail register
Near:Lake Elsinore, CA
Distance:1.94 miles round trip
Elevation Gain:433 ft
Hike Time:1 hours
Trail Condition:OK, but a few difficult spots
HikeType:Out and Back

Summary: In the summertime, rangers open the gate to the Main Divide Road allowing you more direct access to this short ridgeline trail. Your ascent begins abruptly from the parking area, up a talus-strewn slope. The worst is over once you have attained this first summit. You'll drop down another saddle and then climb Los Pinos Peak proper.

The peak lies past a thicket. Look for the trail register among the stones and sign it. If you wish, you may continue along Los Pinos Ridge for several miles. Due to blockage by a private owner, however, you must return the way you came.

Expect brilliant wildflowers in the late springtime. The trail is not shaded, so bring a hat and water.

Trailhead: From Interstate 5: Take the Ortega Highway (California 74) exit in San Juan Capistrano and proceed east for about 22 miles to Long Canyon Road (unsigned -- the first paved road on your left about .40 miles past the candy store). Follow Long Canyon for approximately 4 miles to the Main Divide Road. Turn left on the Main Divide Road, climbing until you reach the parking area at Los Pinos Saddle.

From Interstate 15: Take the Central Avenue (California 74) exit in Lake Elsinore and proceed west about 11 miles to Long Canyon Road (unsigned). Turn right on Long Canyon Road. Follow Long Canyon for approximately 4 miles to the Main Divide Road. Turn left on the Main Divide Road, climbing until you reach the parking area at Los Pinos Saddle.

The trailhead is unmarked. It begins at the west end of the parking lot. Do not confuse it with the nearby Trabuco Canyon Trail. The trail you want leads up. (Lat:33.671 Lon:-117.45913)

Trail Guides for Los Pinos Peak (Summer), Cleveland NF:
Afoot & Afield in Orange County
by Jerry Schad (Wilderness Press)

Best Seasons: Summer,
User Groups: Hikers,
Ranger Contact: Trabuco Ranger District, Cleveland NF, 909-736-1811
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Joel Sax, who has posted  51 other hikes on this site. To visit this reporters web site, click here.
Trail Reviews  Submit your own review
Reviewed by anthony on 4/4/2010
Drove past Bluejay Campground and part way up the Main Divide in my Toyota Corolla. Only about one mile from here to the trailhead. Trail starts just to right of teal posts up into the brush. Quick hike in perfect conditions. Daytime highs near 60 at the summit. Great views toward ocean, lake Elsinore and Santiago Peak not to mention views to Mt. Baldy, San Gorgonio and San Jacinto. Check out the photos at

Reviewed by TYLC on 3/10/2008
The unsigned and winding roads make it very difficult to find the unmarked trailhead. Best to stop at Blue Jay Campground and ask a National Forest Ranger for a map and a status of the road (Main Divide): it's a very steep, rocky, and dusty dirt road. We could see the trailhead but didn't hike the Los Pinos trail since we had gotten so tired from the full sun (bring wide-brimmed hat, good shoes, a snack and plenty of water).

Reviewed by Christina on 8/22/2007
First, we never found it until after our short hike accross the street from the Candy Store. Very pleasant! Now, the directions say go .4 miles past the candy store, it's more like keep going up Ortega for about 2 minutes, then you'll see it. So, we're going back this weekend & I'll be back to let you know how it is!

Reviewed by jeff on 3/21/2006
If you really want to make this hike worth the effort, start at the blue jay camp ground and hike to Los pinos peak. also, you could do loop by going down the trabuco canyon trail and up horsethief trail back to the main devide road all the way back to the camp ground

Notice: Traveling in the backcountry can be hazardous. You are responsible for informing yourself about these hazards and taking necessary precautions. Information on this web site comes from volunteer reporters and may contain errors or omissions. A current guidebook and proper equipment are essential for safe enjoyment of the hikes posted on this site.
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