McGill Trail Mount Pinos

McGill Trail Mount Pinos


From the issue Pining for Pinos

Boot Camp

Somewhere far below Mount Pinos, cars are overheating on Interstate 5. But up on the mountain’s McGill Trail, it’s all about chillin’ in the high country—and getting in some serious cardio. Get the flavor of the Sierra Nevada less than two hours from L.A. by biking or hiking on the 7.5-mile (round-trip) trail to McGill Campground. Starting from a signed trailhead along Mount Pinos Road, the mostly shaded route immediately starts its 1,500-foot climb and doesn’t let up much until the campground. It’s definitely a workout as you wind through the forest of Jeffrey pines, and edge along steep drop-offs above deep canyons. A few trail sections open to views over Lockwood Valley or northeast toward the Grapevine. But the real reward comes on the downhill, a long plunge that challenges bicyclists to use both speed and technical skill. Hikers can catch their breath and savor the forest—beautifully dappled by daylight and filled with the scent of the pines. High-five above the 5!

FOODIE BONUS: Power down your Mount Pinos adventure with the house-baked pastries at Coffee Cantina (3011 Mount Pinos Way) in Frazier Park. The made-from-scratch blueberry scones are berry delicious.

Follow directions for the Mount Pinos Trail. About a half-mile after the junction with Mil Potrero Rd, look for a turnout and the signed lower trailhead for McGill Trail. To reach the upper trailhead for car shuttles, continue up Mount Pinos Rd and in about 5.5 miles, look to the right for McGill Campgound. The upper trailhead is on the left just past the entrance. Day use is $8. Dog-friendly!

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