Distance: 2.6 miles round trip on trail and use trail
Summit Elevation: 662' (Pinhead), 668' (Point Rancho), 735' (Peak 735)
Prominence: 62' (Pinhead), 88' (Point Rancho), Unknown (Peak 735)
Elevation Gain: 614'
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 0.49
Round trip time: 1 hour
Recommended water: 16 oz.
Parking/Fees: $3 OC Parks weekdays, $5 weekends
Personal business cancelled my hiking plans today, leaving me less than two hours for something in the morning. None of my planned hikes fit into that window so I looked around at the county parks. Caspers Wilderness Park was close, just barely up the Ortega Hwy, and had the interestingly named Pinhead Peak.
Entrance to the park is $3 on weekdays and $5 on weekends. I haven't seen tiered prices at OC parks in the past, but maybe it is just at this park since it is large and multi-use. You pay an attendant when entering the park. For your cash, you get a nice park map and a warning flyer about mountain lions. I arrived at 9:15 and parked near the trailhead at Starr Mesa Equestrian Campground at #9. The trail was signed and portable restrooms were nearby. If all you want to do is Pinhead Peak, it is less than two miles round trip with a couple hundred feet of gain. If you want to add a little bushwhacking for the Point Rancho Survey Mark, it is a little longer but still easy. Finally, if you add Peak 735 along another use trail, the entire hike is still short and easy. This trail sees quite a bit of horse traffic, so watch out for droppings along the way.
Pinhead Peak has no summit marker or register, a barely distinct point on the ridge. The trail continues to a lower peaklet with a little more prominence. At that point, there is a Trail Closed sign, which is the trail to the Point Rancho Survey Mark. It is somewhat overgrown and you have to pass through a barbed wire fence twice, but it is not difficult. I didn't find a survey marker when I arrived at the Point Racho summit, though now I wish I had moved the rock that marked the top. Maybe something was under there. On the way back, I was just getting warmed up, so I followed a use trail up to Peak 735, also requiring light bushwhacking and two more barbed wire fence crossings. The views were not very different from Peak 735 though I could clearly spot my car.
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