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3-2-1 Pinos-Sawmill-Grouse

Peak Summited2020 Sawmill Mountain
Type of HikeDay hike
TrailheadNordic Center
EncounteredWildflowers blooming, Fall foliage, Ripe berries
Hiking CompanionsHiked with a partner
Road ConditionsRoad suitable for all vehicles
Bug StatusBugs were not too bad
Snow ConditionsSnow free
Trail ConditionsTrail in good condition
I haven’t seen my dear friend Christine in what felt like ages!! So what better way to reunite but hiking some peaks! Mt Pinos is a favorite of Christine’s and its part of the alternate peak list for the 6pack of peaks challenge I’m doing this year.
This particular weekend was opening for hunting season AND the 1st weekend the SoCal National Forests have been open since the Bobcat fire started weeks ago. We DID see a lot of hunters all along the drive up and a few miles from the Nordic Center. We heard some distant gunfire but nothing close enough to be alarming. I guess there were some bears spotted that morning on the mountain but we didn’t luck out and see any.
Fall has definitely begun. It was a balmy high 40’s when we arrived and the wind was gusting for a good portion of morning.🥶 Thankfully it warmed to mid 60’s by 5pm when we wrapped up.
It was my first time up in these parts and these forested peaks never cease to impress me. The trail is a broad dirt road to start and once you get past Mt Pinos it tapers to a single track path switchbacking down and up to Sawmill Mountain. Once you take your peak pics at the rock obelisk peak marker, you continue down the other side towards Grouse Mountain. The hills are covered in low lying Yellow Rabbitbrush gone to seed and fluffy.
There are a few trail offshoots before you get to Grouse Mountain. Following AllTrails routes, you round your way up to the Grouse peak and hit a false peak w (incorrect) peak sign and then follow a short path to another accurate peak marker made up of a tree branch teepee. We hit all the peak signs just in case. After a rest before we headed back, we decided to take a quick detour to Sheep Camp. It’s a nice little camp nestled in near a spring and wet meadow. It’s apparently the 2nd highest camp in the Los Padres forest. From there it’s a steady climb back out to Mt Pinos. A few dips in the elevation gain but you're headed up.
A great day out catching up w my girlfriend Christine, enjoying one of her favorite spots. 4 peaks checked off the challenge and 2 to go! Too bad 2 of these 3 didn’t count! 🥴

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