Los Angeles: San Rafael Traverse

Take a weekend for this 21.8-miler, which features a stout 3,000-foot climb up into the foothills and mountains of the San Rafael Wilderness.
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Mapped by Bryan Conant (www.bryanconant.com)

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 17.6



Location: 34.7267075, -119.9185104

Hike E on fire road, and quickly climb into charred chaparral hills


Location: 34.73209, -119.9097443

Swing N; route switchbacks then loops back up the steep slopes


Location: 34.7296982, -119.904686

Clumps of taller evergreens cling from the N-facing slopes


Location: 34.723362, -119.8985977

Side trip: Go R toward Cachuma Mtn. Bare hillside offers views to Pacific and lonely dots of Channel Islands National Park


Location: 34.7262001, -119.9007111

Scramble up rocks to Cachuma (4,696 ft.); find the USGS summit marker. Backtrack to WPT 4, then continue S


Location: 34.7195282, -119.8972168

Pass a corrugated metal water trough


Location: 34.7133942, -119.887619

Continue SE


Location: 34.7067986, -119.8720856

Hells Half Acre: This stark white rock formation stands out amid area?s browns and greens. Ahead is trip?s hardest climb


Location: 34.7134476, -119.8503418

Go right at intersection marked with a large metal sign


Location: 34.7062874, -119.8457947

Camp in well-established site near McKinley Springs. Reliable water. Next day, leave camp gear and head SE


Location: 34.7035027, -119.8361588

McKinley Saddle. Pick one or both: 1) Go R (not mapped) to climb McKinley Peak (1.4 mi. roundtrip). 2) Continue E to the prize mountain in San Rafael Wilderness


Location: 34.7109413, -119.8140945

Best views are on singletrack before 6,593-ft. summit. Tag peak, and backtrack to camp. When ready, return to trailhead

View west through the pines

Location: 34.7167282, -119.8932724

©Bryan Conant (www.BryanConant.com)

Hiking McKinley Road

Location: 34.7115135, -119.8846359

A hiker tromps the the crest of the San Rafaels. ©Bryan Conant (www.BryanConant.com)

Looking Down Manzana

Location: 34.7079239, -119.8777847

The rugged interior of Manzana Canyon from the open ridgelines of the San Rafaels. ©Bryan Conant (www.BryanConant.com)

Looking Towards Manzana Narrows

Location: 34.7074356, -119.8741989

©Bryan Conant (www.BryanConant.com)

McKinley Spring Camp

Location: 34.7066193, -119.8458328

Make camp here before the push to San Rafael Peak. ©Bryan Conant (www.BryanConant.com)