Distance: 5.4 miles round trip on dirt road and trail
Summit Elevation: 4510'
Elevation Gain: 1400'
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 1.12
Round trip time: 2 hours
Recommended water: 64 oz.
Parking/Fees: Adventure Pass
Los Pinos is the 4th highest peak, and one of the southern most peaks in the Santa Ana mountains. It can be reached from trails north and south. I started from North Main Divide road. Getting to the trailhead is an adventure itself as you wind up a narrow road with potholes to a turn out. To get there from the OC, take Ortega Highway (74) from the I-5 about 25 miles toward Temecula, then take the first paved road on the left past the candy store (Long Canyon Road). Follow the road past the probation facility, bear right and follow the signs to Blue Jay campground, then continue past the campground a little until you see the North Main Divide sign and a closed gate (it will probably remain closed all winter) on the left. I suggest driving slowly and watching out for other cars.
There was no snow, but the ground was frozen and temps hovered around 40F.
Because of its location, Los Pinos provides a unique view of Santiago Peak and great views of San Gorgonio. I think Los Pinos would be more fun to approach from the south using the longer, more difficult ridge route.
Los Pinos via Bell Ridge
Los Pinos via Los Pinos Ridge