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Xmas in OC: Los Pinos-Trabuco-Horse Thief Peaks (Intermediate Plus)

  • Dec 8, 2012 · 7:15 AM
  • This location is shown only to members


* NOTES: Rain or Extreme Heat Weather Cancels! If you have a Truck or an SUV high clearance, the hike is about 15-16 miles to the peaks. Adventure Pass required for those driving to the trailhead. Passes available at REI and other sporting goods stores. Include in your RSVP if you can drive or need a ride or hike the dirt road before the trailhead. See below for more details.

Difficulty: Intermediate Plus for distance, pace and elevation. Check here to know your limit: HIKING SKILL LEVELS

Distance: 15+ (optional up to 20 miles)

Duration: 5-7 hours

Elevation Gain: 3500+ft

What to bring: 10 hiking Essentials

Most Essentials: Water, hiking shoes/boots, sunglasses, hat, sunscreen, and a light lunch

ABOUT the ROUTE: Trabuco Canyon -> West Horse Thief ->Main Divide (West)->Trabuco Peak-> Main Divide (East) ->Horse Thief Peak->Main Divide (East)-> Los Pinos Peak->Trabuco Canyon and walk the dirt road! If it rains a week before, we'll add in 1 mile RT (bush whacking) to Falls Canyon as well!

To read more about

As we slowly ascend from the trailhead we'll see signs of humanity including an abandoned car and a gold mine. We continue through the forest until we reach the junction with the West Horse Thief Trail (1.8 miles) where we turn left to begin the loop. We steadily climb through sage scrub, conifer, oak and chaparral and eventually Coulter pine reaching the Main Divide at 3.3 miles. We'll turn left at Main Divide head NW another 1.5 miles along the Main Divide Road to Trabuco Peak. Come back and turn right at Main Divide, follow the ridge, Horsethief Peak is just 2 miles south along the Main Divide Road in between West Horse Thief on the right and East Horsethief on the left. We continue on the fire road to the Los Pinos Saddle at @ 9.5 miles. We leave the fire road on to Trabuco Canyon Trail to the right to the Los Pinos Trail on the left. 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 (2 miles RT or if time allows, we may continue along Los Pinos Ridge for several miles beyond the summit.) We dive down into the canyon enjoying the cover of live oak and Douglas fir. We reach the junction where we started the loop around 1 mile down and then turn left and head back 1.8 miles.

Photos from past meetups:

March 2012: Photos

November 2011: Photos

March 2011: Photos

January 2010: Photos

December 2009: Photos

About the trail: It's Xmas time and hope the rain will give us a really "green" of OC we rarely see. Our hike through chaparral and a varied forest of spruce, Coulter pine, maple, coastal live oaks, sycamores, alders, madrone, and California bay laurel. The trail is a great break from city life offering cool green woods filled with local flora and fauna.

"Los Pinos" is Spanish for the pines. There are many pine trees near the northern slope and southern face of the peak just below the summit. Pine Trees in the coastal mountains of Southern California made this hike so different to other OC hikes. Los Pinos Peak is a prominent peak located in the Santa Ana Mountains, part of the Peninsular Range of Southern California. Even its elevation is only 4510ft, Los Pinos Peak does rank fifth in the range with 450 feet of prominence (after Santiago Peak, Trabuco Peak, Sitton Peak and Modjeska Peak). It is prominent above Lake Elsinore and San Juan Capistrano and looms above the Ortega Highway. Los Pinos Peak is the southern most 4'er in the range, so the views from this peak are endless with views way down south, of the Pacific Ocean (Catalina and San Clemente Islands), San Jacinto Mountains, San Bernardino Mountains, San Gabriel Mountians and much more of Southern California. There are several ways to summit Los Pinos, so check here for more info:

We also explore the two more peaks nearby: Trabuco Peak and Horse Thief Peak. Trabuco Peak is at 4607ft elevation, the third most prominent peak in the Santa Ana Mountains. The summit lies on the border of Orange and Riverside Counties. The peak is located at the top of Trabuco Canyon and above Temescal Canyon, giving it a commanding view both canyons. Horsethief Peak is an unnamed peak. This is a great peak to get away from the crowds that can often be found on Santiago Peak. The views from this peak are just as good as any other peak in the range. Located between Trabuco Peak and Los Pinos Peak, Horsethief Peak is at an elevation of 4,313ft

Driving Directions and Meetup Locations: From the 5 Freeway in Lake Forest, head northeast on El Toro Rd toward Portola Hills(7.3 mi), turn right at CR-S19/Live Oak Canyon Rd (Cook's Corner), continue on Live Oak Canyon Rd (3.3 mi), take small bridge over Trabuco Creek, immediately turn left at Trabuco Creek Rd (dirt road) and park. We'll carpool to the trailhead or you can go an hour earlier to hike the dirt road. If we have 3-4 trucks or SUVS that can handle a bumpy dirt road from the parking/staging area to the trailhead. Please include in your RSVP if you will need a ride or have a truck or SUV and can drive others to the trailhead which is a bit over 5 miles. The road is passable with a normal car but it will just be slow going. National Forest Adventure Pass required for those driving and parking at the trailhead.

Carpool Locations:

1. 7:15AM at Parking (very limited) on Live Oak Rd begins of the bumpy road (or 6AM here to hike the dirt road to the trailhead, adding another 5 miles, indicate when sign up please!)

2. 7:00AM at Whiting Ranch trailhead near Starbucks: Portola & Glenn Ranch Rd Foothill Starbucks 27412 Portola Pkwy Lake Forest, CA 92630

3. 6:30AM at Irvine Park and Ride exit Jeffrey from the 5 Frwy.


***By joining the meetup, you agree to Meetup Terms of Service releases the Organizer and Assistant Organizers from any liability related to incidents that occur at Meetup gatherings*** > YOU acknowledge THAT WE ARE NOT PROFESSIONALS. > YOU ASSUME RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOURSELF AND YOUR SAFETY Hiking is a rewarding and pleasant activity in nature, but there are certain dangers you should be aware of. Those include, but are not limited to, trip and fall injuries, bee stings, poison oak exposure, ticks, mountain lions, coyotes, snake bites or wildlife. By signing up for this event, you agree to hold harmless the hike organizer, assistant organizers and other participants for any injuries sustained during this hike***

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  • Lily

    Dear friends, sharing with you a sad news that Mo Dad just passed away last night Jan. 31, 2013. Unfortunately, his Dad is not in the states, we hope Mo has a safe flight back home. Please bring him the best "flower" from HikingOC and our prayer is with you and your family, Mo.

    February 1, 2013

  • Lily

    By the way, here is the link to Falls Canyon photos after the rain last year, Todd and those who are interested

    December 9, 2012

  • Lily

    Thank you all for coming. It was a great workout. I love this time of the year for our route to Los Pinos and like rating it: one of the most scenic hikes of HikingOC. Happy holidays and see you on the next hike!

    1 · December 9, 2012

  • Cee M.

    another great hike with everyone on a beautiful day! thank you Lily for organizing and hosting this fantastic hike! thank you everyone for capturing and sharing the amazing photos of nature! I wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

    December 8, 2012

  • Rohit

    Lily, Thanks for organizing this hike today. We had a wonderful time hiking more than 14+ miles on a Beautiful So Cal Hazy Shade of Winter. It was good to meet friends from hike before and make some new ones. Had a Blast.

    December 8, 2012

  • Muku

    Also, I'm so sorry to people who are on the waiting list. I should have cancelled earlier... Sorry

    December 7, 2012

  • Muku

    Lily, I'm so sorry, but something came up and I need to give up this hike. My son (21), finally agreed to hike with me. I was waiting for this for long time... So, I will take him and my dog to Baldy or somewhere easier... :o) Have fun!!

    December 7, 2012

  • Muku

    Silly me....

    December 7, 2012

  • Lily

    Oh my dear Muku, what is a question huh? On very top of the post, below the day and the time, the meetup location is Holy Jim Ride Share: Trabuco Creek Rd & Trabuco Canyon Rd, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688. This location is 4.4 miles (less than 10 minutes) from Cook's Corner (take Live Oaks Canyon until it turns into Trabuco Canyon Rd, it's about a mile to the intersection, on the left side if you come from Cook's Corner)

    Todd, Muku and those who plan to meet at Holy Jim Ride Share, we'll try to squeeze in the high clearance to get through the bumpy road. If you have an adventure pass and don't have a high clearance car, please bring your pass just in case. The rain did a great job packing down the dirt, so it'll be green and nice trail for us this Sat.

    See everyone at the Holy Jim Ride Share. See Rohit, Dave, Mo and those who plan to meet at Irvine Park and Ride 6:30AM!

    December 6, 2012

  • Muku

    So, will someone tell me where is exactly we meet @ 7:15am?? My car can't drive the bumpy road...

    December 6, 2012

  • Lily

    Let's discuss about carpool and meetup locations. How many of us will meet at Irvine Park and Ride 6:30 AM? At Starbucks Whiting Ranch 7 AM and at the beginning of the bumpy road at 7:15AM? Vance, are you sure to hike before sunrise? (6:44AM) in the winter time...hummm :-) Weather forecast for Sat. Partly cloudy in the morning...Becoming mostly sunny. Patchy fog in the morning. Highs 66 to 71. Mike, Rohit, Vance, Jeff A and any of you plans to hike with the fast group, please check the links on the post for the route. You can hike up to 16-17 miles with steep hills. I'll meet with the carpoolers at Irvine Park and Ride. See you all then!

    1 · December 6, 2012

    • Jeff M

      Alex and I will be going directly to the beginning of the bumpy road also at 715... Muku, you must be are the speed demon.

      December 6, 2012

    • Muku

      Jeff, I wish I am the speed angel :o) You are the speed demon with WING!!

      December 6, 2012

  • Todd

    I will probably join you guys at the dirt road at 7:15am since I am coming from South OC (Laguna Niguel area) and I will go with the slower group (if there is one). I'm not sure if my car can make it to the trailhead or not... depends on whether the road has been recently graded. Looking forward to a great hike!

    December 6, 2012

    • Mike S.

      I was mountain biking on that road last night, it was wet, muddy and full of pot holes. But not undrivable. It will be slow and bumpy, but I saw several small cars on the road. That was 10pm on Wednesday, it will probably dry out some by Saturday.

      December 6, 2012

  • Muku

    The beginning of the bumpy road means the front of the biker's gathering place? I forgot the name... Cook's corner? I want to meet there and join in first group. Although, I don't think I can catch up Jeff A.... I need to go somewhere after that asap....

    December 6, 2012

  • Lily

    Rose, too bad we can't change the day as Mike can't make it. This hike is a promise Xmas hike for him and Marlin that already planned from last month...ah...we will have to miss that LA Auto Show guys have fun :-)

    December 2, 2012

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