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California Trails

Los Angeles, CA: Mount Pinos to Cerro Noroeste

Bag four peaks all over 8,000 feet along this 13.8-mile out-and-back with two short off-trail summit scrambles.

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Head north then west on Trail 21WO3. In the 2.1 miles, the trail caps off on Mount Pinos (8,810 ft.) where northerly views unfold to the San Emigdo Mountains. From here, hike 3.4 miles to Waypoint 3 then leave the main trail for a 0.2-mile scramble northwest to Sawmill Mountain (8,816 ft.). Pick up the trail again by swinging southwest 0.3 miles. Head to Waypoint 6 and swing off-trail again (heading west then south to avoid big steeps) to Grouse Mountain (8,572 ft.). The payoff includes views dropping 3,000 feet to San Emigoio Mesa.From the top of Grouse, descend northwest 0.6 miles back to Trail 21WO3 then continue west to Cerro Noroeste Road. Walk the shoulder for a half-mile to knock off the fourth peak of the day, Cerro Noroeste (8,286 ft.). After resting, backtrack 6.6 miles to the trailhead, skipping the off-trail detours to Grouse and Sawmill Mountains.–Mapped by Travis Lind


Trail Facts

  • Distance: 22.2


Snowy Scene

Location: 34.8130875, -119.1270142


Location: 34.8156357, -119.1315994

Snowy Tree

Location: 34.8130875, -119.1386185

Snowy Trees

Location: 34.8120003, -119.1393127

Trail Sign

Location: 34.812088, -119.1411285

Winter Scene

Location: 34.8123474, -119.1425095

Snowy Trees

Location: 34.8114815, -119.1587906


Location: 34.8138738, -119.1687441

Trail Views

Location: 34.8320173, -119.2038918


Location: 34.812851, -119.1270218

Go northeast on Trail 21WO3 towards Mount Pinos, the day’s first 8,000-foot summit. The ridgeline gains 400 feet in the first 2 miles. Pass a radio tower on your right just before the summit.


Location: 34.811985, -119.1481171

Mount Pinos: Whip out the camera for striking views of the San Emigdo Mountains to the north, and the Traverse Range to the west. Continue northwest on Trail 21WO3.


Location: 34.8134003, -119.1644592

Off-trail scramble: To summit Sawmill Mountain (8,816 ft.), leave the trail and head northwest for 0.2 miles under pines and up a boulder field.

Or, skip this off-trail detour and hike west to Waypoint 5.


Location: 34.8136271, -119.1678858

Sawmill Mountain (8,816 ft.): Northerly views stretch to Pine Mountain Club in the valley far below. To reconnect with trail 21WO3, descend southwest back through pine stands for 0.3 miles to Waypoint 5.


Location: 34.8133659, -119.171463

Off-trail route rejoins Trail 21WO3. Swing west to Grouse Mountain.


Location: 34.8159332, -119.1799393

To summit Grouse Mountain, leave Trail 21WO3 and head west scrambling 0.2 miles uphill before turning south and continuing 600 feet to summit.


Location: 34.8148117, -119.1830215

Grouse Mountain (8,572 ft.): Grab mid-day snack, enjoy views of San Emigoio Mesa 3,000 feet below, then bushwhack northwest for 0.6 miles to meet Trail 21WO3 again.


Location: 34.8204002, -119.1830521

Rejoin Trail 21WO3, and turn left. The trail slips between Grouse Mountain and Cerro Noroeste, dropping 900 feet then gaining 600 feet.


Location: 34.8285255, -119.2019348

Turn right onto Cerro Noroeste Road and road walk 0.6 miles to the fourth peak.


Location: 34.8309975, -119.2033539

Cerro Noroeste (8,286 ft.): Soak in the views, and return to trailhead via Trail 21WO3, skipping the off-trail sections.

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