Brown Mountain 2x P300
Logan Ridge 2x P300
Shaw Ridge P300
Peak 3,620ft 2x P500
La Cumbre Peak 2x P1K

May 12, 2024
La Cumbre Peak
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPXs: 1 2 Profile
Brown Mountain previously climbed Nov 21, 2017
Logan Ridge previously climbed Nov 21, 2017
Peak 3,620ft previously climbed Mar 25, 2014
Cumbre Peak, La previously climbed Jun 29, 2009
Cumbre Peak, La later climbed May 13, 2024


In Pismo Beach for the Mother's Day weekend, I had a late breakfast with Mom and daughter before helping them pack up and sending them back to San Jose. This left me on my own for a few days before I would meet up with them again in Pasadena for our son's graduation. I would make my way to SoCal on a relaxed schedule, tagging some summits along the way.

Rock Front OHV Area

This OHV area is located in the Los Padres NF along SR166, north of the Cuyama River, about 25mi northwest of Santa Maria. I had been here on three previous occasions and was surprised to find in my research that I had missed an obscure one. From the Forest Service maps I had, it appeared one could drive to the summit with a sufficiently capable vehicle. I thought this might be mostly a Jeeping exercise and had other stuff planned for the afternoon. On my last visit to this part of the OHV back in 2017, I'd brought a bike to travel the miles of road that my van was ill-equipped to managed. This time, I found that Twin Rocks Road has been permanently closed to vehicles. The worst section of the road is the initial one, climbing steeply up to Brown Mtn, badly rutted. Seems my feet would end up doing most of the work, about 9mi all told with 2,300ft of gain.

I think the outing under normal circumstances would have been fairly tame, but today it was already 78F when I started out and would be well into the 80s before I finished. With little breeze, this would not make for a pleasant outing and I would see no one during the entire hike. Over the first hour and change, I visited Brown Mtn and the highpoint of Logan Ridge, both of which I'd tagged in 2017 on my way to Shell Peak. I was already pretty tired by the time I got to Logan Ridge's highpoint and marvelled that I'd been able to make the much longer outing to Shell Peak. Only later when I was preparing this TR did I recall that I had used a bike on that first outing, which generally beats walking despite long stretches of pushing it uphill. I further pondered whether I even had the strength these days to push a bike up steep hills.

Not long after 12:30p I reached a junction where the USFS has a nice OHV trail map that has weathered the last decade nicely, thanks to the shade of an oak tree. Last time I turned left here and followed the ridgeline to the southwest. Today I turned west, following the continuing road that would take me along Shaw Ridge. It would take me another 40min to make my way along more undulating ridgeline for the last mile. One could follow the road northwest for quite a few more miles before running out of public lands, and there's even another summit, Peak 2,005ft, about 1/3mi off the route that could be visited. But today was not the day for an extended adventure - the high temps were draining me as it was, and I would find myself short on liquid resources. I collected some rocks and made a small pile in which to leave a register. I wonder if anyone will ever see it before the decade is up. It would take me another two hours and then some to retrace the 4.5mi route back along the ridgelines, returning up and over the first two summits. I was ready for some relaxing upon my return, the first order of business to get my boots and clothes off for a refreshing shower where I'd parked. I also downed about a quarter of water, now feeling much better.

Peak 3,620ft

I drove back out to US101 and then paused in Santa Maria to wait out the remaining warm hours of the afternoon at a Starbucks. Shortly before 6p I headed off towards Santa Barbara, without a clear picture of exactly where I would spend the night and where I would hike the next morning. My plan developed during the drive, and as I was approaching San Marcos Pass on SR154, decided at the last minute to get off at the pass and drive paved East Camino Cielo eastward along the crest of the Santa Ynez Mtns that line the north side of the Santa Barbara coast. It's an incredibly scenic drive that I've visited many times over the years. The road is windy, narrow and slow, but I minded not the least as I had nowhere in particular to be this evening. I noted I might revisit some summits just off the roadway for some stat-padding around sunset. Peak 3,620ft was the first stop, about three miles east of San Marcos Pass. The summit is the site of an aviation VORTAC station which I'd visited ten years earlier. A bend in the road SE of the highpoint offers a place to park and a use trail that provides access to the ridgeline above. A short walk of about 5min sees one to the flat-ish highpoint. The VORTAC station has been graded flat, with another area to the east of similar height. This eastern point is where both LoJ and PB show the highpoint. I wandered about this area mostly for views looking northwest, south and east.

La Cumbre Peak

I drove another 15min east on the road to La Cumbre Peak, one of the higher summits on the crest. In addition to a USFS picnic area and TH, there is an array of telecom towers and the bedraggled remains of a fire lookout that has seen better days. I was racing sunset as I took all of three minutes to hike to the lookout and take a few pictures of the view. A chainlink fence topped with barb-wire surrounds the lookout, but the gate has been left open. The first section of stairs has been removed to discourage visitors to the lookout cab. Interestingly, the chainlink fence and the adjacent telecom installation can be combined to provide access to the remaining stairs and the cab above. The insides have been trashed and the uncertain flooring makes one take cautious steps. I returned to where I'd parked the Jeep and spent the rest of the night there. In this manner, I could claim another ascent of La Cumbre in the morning before heading to Ventura County where I planned to spend the next two days hiking...


Submit online comments or corrections about the story.

More of Bob's Trip Reports

This page last updated: Tue May 21 08:29:04 2024
For corrections or comments, please send feedback to: