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West Big Pine


Location: Santa Barbara County, about 20 miles north of Santa Barbara, 145 miles from Los Angeles


Auto Club: Santa Barbara County
Forest Service: Los Padres National Forest: Mt Pinos, Ojai and Santa Barbara Ranger Districts
Topo: Big Pine Mtn 7½, Madulce Peak 7½, Fox Mountain 7½, Salisbury Potrero 7½

Nearby Peaks: Samon Peak, Madulce Peak, Big Pine Mountain


(USFS Adventure Pass Required)
Distance: 35 miles r.t. on dirt road
Gain: 4,400'
Time: 19-21 hours r.t. (2 days)
Rating: Class 1, Very Strenuous
Navigation: Easy

Original: John Backus - May 1981


  • Drive north on I-5 past the Grapevine to the SR 166 off-ramp. Turn left (west).
  • Head west 36.5 miles, passing through Maricopa, to the junction with SR 33 south. This junction may be reached by a slower route via SR 33 north from Ojai. (There is a junction with SR 33 north in Maricopa that you will pass in Maricopa.)
  • Continue west on SR 166 for 4.7 miles to a bridge over the Cuyama River, and an immediate junction past the bridge, on your left. This is Kirschenmann Road (paved). Turn left.
  • Continue 2.4 miles to the end of Kirschenmann at Foothill Road. Turn left (east).
  • Drive 3 miles to Santa Barbara Canyon Road on the right (south). Turn right, note your odometer, and go as follows:
  • At 3.1 miles, just past a ranch house, junction with a dirt road on the left and a paved road on the right with a sign "Santa Barbara Canyon Road". Turn right.
  • At 7.5 miles, fork with Santa Barbara Ranch visible ahead. Go right and cross a creek. The pavement ends.
  • At 9.5 miles, a cattle guard and gate.
  • At 10.0 miles, a hard to see dirt road on right. This is the turn off point for Fox Mountain #1. Keep straight.
  • At 10.8 miles, fork with Dry Canyon Road on the left. This is the turn off point for Lizard Head and Cuyama Peak (LO). Keep straight.
  • At 12.6 miles, a locked gate. Park here.


  • From the parking area (3,440'), hike through the small gate and continue up the road. At 4 miles there are the posts of a second gate; off the road to the right is a flat area suitable for camping.
  • Continue up the road, keeping left at a fork with Sierra Madre Road about 0.5 mile farther, and go about 5 miles farther to Chokecherry Spring, at elevation 5500', marked by a water trough and a large water tank. This is the take-off point for Samon Peak.
  • Continue south up the road about 1.7 miles (700 feet of gain) to a saddle where the road starts downhill. About 30 yards past the saddle, a trail starts off to the left, visible from the saddle. This is the take-off point for Madulce Peak.
  • Continue on the road about 1.2 miles to a fork. The left fork leads a short distance to the old Alamar station site. This is an excellent dry campsite.
  • Take the right fork and continue 2 miles to where a jeep road goes up the slope to the left. This is the take-off point for Big Pine Mountain.
  • Continue along the main road passing a trail on the right. This goes down to Big Pine Campground where there is a spring with unreliable water. Continue to a fork with a sign "Mission Pine Trail".
  • Turn right onto the Mission Pine Trail and proceed west for about 1.5 miles to an area where steep cliffs are seen ahead, falling away to the left (south). This is the summit area of West Big Pine.
  • To reach the summit, stay on the trail as long as it goes uphill, passing some rock outcrops until just north of the peak.
  • Leave the trail at its highest point and ascend easy slopes on your left to the foundations of an abandoned lookout and spectacular views.


If coming from Big Pine Mountain, it is possible to descend along the southwest ridge of Big Pine to the road. Keep to the right side of the ridge to avoid the worst of the brush. This places you on the main road just west of the trail to Big Pine Camp.


The road that goes past Chokecherry Spring separates Dick Smith Wilderness, on the east, from San Rafael Wilderness, on the west. The road itself is not wilderness and is suitable for mountain bikes.

West Big Pine is generally climbed with Madulce Peak, Big Pine Mountain and Samon Peak on a 3-day backpack trip called "The Big Four". For all four peaks, the distance is 45 miles, the gain is about 8,000 feet, and the whole experience is very strenuous. There is water at Chokecherry Spring. If you camp at Alamar, you must carry overnight water 3 miles and about 1,000 feet of gain from Chokecherry Spring. Bears frequent the area, so it is advisable to bear proof foodstuffs and other consumables when leaving your campsite.

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Hundred Peaks Section, Angeles Chapter, Sierra Club
Published 23-Jun-2002
© 1998-2002 - All Rights Reserved

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