Description - The Mount Pinos Ranger District is one of five administrative districts of the Los Padres National Forest. The Los Padres is the third largest National Forest in California and covers approximately 2 million acres. Mount Pinos encompasses areas in Ventura and Kern counties, along with a small portion of Santa Barbara County. This district has a wider range of temperatures, due to its altitude and general geographic location.
- Visitors are attracted to the Mount Pinos Ranger District for the variety of landscapes and recreational settings. Camping reigns as a major attraction offering the popular sites of: Aliso Park, an oak-shaded RV and tent camp; Nettle Sprints, which has Chumash Wilderness access, and the campgrounds of Ballinger, Tinta, Cottonwood, Dome, Dutchman and others that offer an overnight stay for those who enjoy motorized trail use. Water play and hunting are other pursuits from the Mount Pinos' campgrounds. Group camping is found at Reyes Creek and McGill.
The Mount Pinos has no designated picnic areas, but many of the campgrounds are available for day use.
The Ballinger Canyon Off Highway Vehicle area is located on Highway 33 near its intersection with Highway 166. There are over 65 miles of trail for motorcycles, quads, and four-wheel drive enthusiasts to enjoy. The east side of the District has nearly 100 miles of trail that can be accessed from Hungry Valley State Vehicular Park, off the Interstate 5 at Gorman. The OHV enthusiast can choose from a variety of day trips or overnight rides. All vehicles must have a state license or Green Sticker.
The Dick Smith, Sespe and Chumash Wilderness areas make up a third of the Mount Pinos Ranger District. Hikers and horseback riders are welcome.
The Rancho Nuevo Trail, the Deal Canyon Trail, the Bear Canyon Trail and the Ozena Trail are all located in the area of Highway 33 and Lockwood Valley Road. Trail camps are available along most trails offering one or more rustic campgrounds; many adjacent to or near creeks.
Tinta and Rancho Nuevo Creeks have campsites available and offer fishing for naturalized trout in the spring months. Reyes Creek has camping and is stocked with rainbow trout throughout the spring and summer months. In the Grade Valley area, Piru and Lockwood Creeks run most of the year.
The California Department of Fish and Game has designated Lockwood and Upper Piru creeks as "Wild Trout" areas, offering fly or artificial bait fishing for naturalized rainbow trout. There is a two fish take limit and "catch-and-release" is encouraged.
The trailhead for the Piedra Blanca Trail (closed, may reopen in 2004) is located at the back of Reyes and has corrals for 4 to 6 horses at a time. There is plenty of room for horse trailer parking, as well as bathroom facilities. In the Grade Valley area, Thorn Meadows Campground offers horseman a covered corral and watering facilities for 10 to 12 horses as well as 5 campsites. Thorn Point and Cedar Creek trailheads are located near this camp.
The east side of the Mount Pinos Ranger District is known for its easy access to deer hunting. Deer, bear, bird, quail and other wildlife is harvested; all State hunting rules and regulations apply.
Mount Pinos does have one designated target shooting area near the town of Frazier Park.
Mountain bikes are welcome on any non-wilderness trail in the Mount Pinos trail system.
Recreation - Fishing, hunting, off-roading, camping, target practice, trail use and camping are the attractions that bring millions onto Mount Pinos Ranger District each year.
Forest visitors on the San Bernardino, Cleveland, Angeles and Los Padres National Forests of Southern California are required to purchase an Adventure Pass and display it on their vehicle when parked in the Forest. The cost is $5 per day or $30 per year and can be purchased in any Forest Service office or over 350 businesses throughout Southern California.
Climate - Climate on the Los Padres varies greatly with elevation and the amount of coastal influence. Areas with more coastal influence experience moderate temperatures year round with fog likely from June through mid-August. Plan your coastal visit in the late summer or fall to ensure the best conditions for viewing the scenery. Also, occasional clear days between winter and spring storms are incomparable. Areas further inland experience greater temperature extremes, with relatively cooler winters and hot summers. Inland areas often receive frost on winter nights. As throughout most of California most of the precipitation comes in the winter months, with April through October normally very dry.
Mount Pinos Ranger District is comprised of Ventura and Kern counties, along with a small portion of Santa Barbara County.