Friday, January 24, 2014

Pinhead Peak, Point Rancho SM, Peak 735

Hiked: 1/24/2014
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
Difficulty: Easy

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.

Entrance to Caspers Wilderness Park


View into the park from Pinhead Peak, Saddleback in the distance

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.

Typo on sign; it should say "Trail to Point Rancho SM"

Heading up the ridge to Point Rancho

Looking back at Pinhead and the lower peaklet from Point Rancho

Point Rancho Survey Mark, I should have checked under the rock to see if something was there.

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