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Pre-Xmas in OC: Los Pinos Peak (Intermediate Plus) Level 3 - Strenuous

  • This location is shown only to members

  • MEETING TIME: See carpool locations below for driving direction


    ***7:15 AM AT THE BEGINNING OF THE DIRT ROAD (Trabuco Creek Rd)


    THIS IS MY FAVORITE CHRISTMAS TIME HIKE IN OC. LET'S HIKE TO LOS PINOS PEAK AGAIN. IT'S A BEAUTIFUL HIKE ANYTIME FROM LATE FALL TO EARLY SPRING, BUT IT IS ESPECIALLY NICE DURING THE CHRISTMAS SEASON BECAUSE WE WILL PASS A LIVING CHRISTMAS TREE ON THE WAY DOWN TRABUCO TRAIL. IT IS A GOOD WORKOUT FOR INTERMEDIATE-PLUS/ADVANCED HIKERS, LEVEL 3 - STRENUOUS. And don't forget to bring an ornament for the christmas tree. If you have a Truck or an SUV high clearance, let's carpool. The dirt road out to the trail head will take about 45 minutes (approximately 5 miles) and is not appropriate for small cars with low clearance. The hike is 13 miles round trip and will take about 5-1/2 hrs to complete.An Adventure Pass is required for those driving to the trailhead. Passes available at REI, Big 5, and other sporting goods stores for $5. Include in your RSVP if you can drive or need a ride. See below for more details.

    Difficulty: Intermediate Plus Level 3 - strenuous for distance (13 miles) and elevation gain  3200 ft. 

    GENERAL RATING/DIFFICULTY: click to see RATING TABLE for more info about hiking levels
    Check here to to read more : HIKING SKILL LEVELS

    Distance: 13 Miles

    Duration: 5 1/2 - 6 Hrs. Elevation Gain: 3200+ft

    What to bring: 10 hiking Essentials

    Most Essential: Water, (2-3 liters) hiking shoes/boots, sunglasses, hat, sunscreen, a wind breaker or long sleeve, (it will be chilly early in the am) and a light lunch or snack (we will be breaking For lunch at the peak).

    ABOUT the ROUTE: Trabuco Canyon - to West Horse Thief trail - to Main Divide (East) - Main Divide to Los Pinos Trail, To Los Pinos peak. From Los Pinos Peak, back to main divide and down Trabuco trail back to the trail head. 13 mile round trip.

    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  of big leaf maple until we reach the junction with the West Horse Thief Trail (1.7 miles) where we turn left to begin the loop. We steadily climb through sage scrub, oak and chaparral. Then we have a very steep switchback up the Mountain until we reach Main Divide at 3.5 miles. We'll turn Right at Main Divide. Main Divide is a fire road that we will take for aprox. 3 miles. We continue on the fire road to the Los Pinos Trail. Los Pinos trail goes straight up to a peak and drops down again. Then you will climb and drop again. Los Pinos Peak is the 3rd and last peak on this trail (4510 ft.) before the trail goes down toward Ortega highway. Sitting right above Lake Elsinore, you will have a spactacular view of everything from the ocean to the mountains. From the peak you will see Catalina and San Clemente Islands to the west and everything from San Bernardino to Hemet to the east. At the peak we will break for lunch, 20-30 Minutes for sandwiches or whatever snacks you may have brought. Then we will take Trabuco trail down through Oak, Pine and Douglas fir.  We will pass a live Christmas Tree on the way down, you may want to take pictures, (if you have ornaments that will withstand the weather you may want to bring them and hang them on the tree). We reach the junction where we started the loop around 4 miles down and then turn left and head back 1.7 miles to the parking area. Those of us that carpooled will need rides back to our cars.

    Photos from past hikes:

    February 2014 photos

    Xmas 2012 Photos

    March 2012: Photos

    November 2011: Photos

    March 2011: Photos

    January 2010: Photos

    December 2009: Photos

    About the trail:

    "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.

    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. We will need 5-6 trucks or SUV's 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. A National Forest Adventure Pass required for those driving and parking at the trailhead.

    Carpool Locations:

    1. 7:15AM at Parking on Live Oak Rd/Trabuco Canyon Rd and Trabuco Creek Rd. (beginging of the bumpy road)

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


    ***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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  • Maritza

    Can't wait!!


  • Sophia I

    Sorry I have to cancel. Still nursing an injury that will not heal in 2 weeks. :/

    3 days ago

  • Mingo

    I remember this one. Has it been a year?! How time flies! Thanks for hosting again

    5 days ago

    • Amanda C.

      Hey Mingo, I think it is same one:) our yearly hike...

      1 · 5 days ago

  • Kathy

    I will need a ride out the dirt road as well.

    6 days ago

  • azar

    I need a ride for the dirt road

    6 days ago

  • Tatiana

    I will need a ride for the dirt road. Is there a carpool from Wahoo at Portola or shall I come direct to the Trabuco creek rd. Somebody mentioned that it was not very good to leave cars there.

    November 26

  • Kimberly

    If I can catch a ride too that would be terrific! I will bring some Christmas goodies to share 🌲

    November 26

  • Terri S.

    My guest and I will also need a ride from Trabuco Creek Road. I'm getting a new 4 wheel drive in January and can reciprocate next time.

    October 31

  • Sophia I

    I will need a ride from Trabuco Creek Road to the trailhead. Thank you!

    October 30

  • Connie C.

    I will need a ride.

    October 29

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  • Mike S.
    Sierra Peak Lover, Assistant Organizer,
    Event Host

    Hi, My name is Mike. I like to hike and mountain bike.

  • Robin

    Hello, my name is Robin. I'm looking to meet people in a healthy fun atmospher. I enjoy working... more

  • Amanda C.

    I like hiking,camping­..outdoor activities

  • Melissa

    Hi my name is melissa

  • Cee M.

    Just hike!!!:)

  • jerry B. +1

    Hi I'm Jerry. I Like to Detox on the trails

  • Norie

    hiking is a great&fun workout!

  • Maritza +1

    Being outdoors makes me happy.😊 now let's hike.

  • Lily

    Liberty as being in nature and benefit from hiking, I like to encourage others to share this... more

  • Marlin
    Ms. Night Walker, Assistant Organizer

    I enjoy hiking and being outdoors

  • Jeff M
    Super "A"...,

    I enjoy the outdoors and really like to hike.

  • Bill

    Enjoy hiking, backpacking and anything outdoors.

  • Terri S. +1

    I love the outdoors, exercise, physical challenges.

  • Masha

    Love hiking, do it at least once or twice a week.

  • Raju D. +1

    I am excited to join this group. I am also a amateur photographer and looking forward to get... more

  • Tatiana
    Excited and Fast

    I am a member of OC Hiking since 2007 and usually sihn up for their week-end hikes. Two weeks... more

  • gail +1

    Love to hike and be out in nature with fellow hikers.

  • Joseph T. +1

    Joe Toth I like hiking 3-times a week loves out doors.

  • Estela P

    I am an active woman who likes the outdoors.

  • Patrick

    Love to mountain bike, hike, and camp.

  • EM

    Hi - love to hike and be outdoors especially enjoyable in the winter, as being from the midwest... more

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    Floats & Stings

    Howdy - Let's hike! Enjoy long and elevated hikes, to challenge the body, lift the mind and... more

  • Kathy

    I'm originally from New England but I can never go back! I love the mountains and... more

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