I returned to the Los Padres NF for a second day to tag a few
additional summits I had missed the first day. My wife had been a
good sport to join me yesterday, but the rough roads got the
better of her stomach and we had to call it quits early to keep
from making things worse. Today I was by myself and was able
to drive quite a bit faster to get me to the Hi Mtn area. I used
the Hi Mtn Lookout Rd from Arroyo Grande, taking about an hour
and change from where we were staying in Pismo Beach.
I drove about five miles northwest of Hi Mountain on the Forest
Service road running along the ridgeline. The road was in
decent shape, almost any vehicle should be able to navigate it,
though high-clearance made it worry-free - no need for 4WD on any
of these. Along the way, one passes by several trailheads,
including the Rinconada, which descends off the north side to
paved Pozo Rd, and the Little Falls TH which descends the
south side into Lopez Canyon. Near its end, the road traverses
high along the southwest side of unnamed Peak 3,216ft,
within a few hundred feet of the top. The short hiking distance
was countered by heavy brush, particularly near
the very summit. It was not pleasant reaching it, but far
from a brutal bushwhack. The summit offers views no better
than one can
get from dozens of spots along the road. If anyone else had been
to the summit, I saw no sign.
Hi Mountain Potrero
This was a pleasant hike of about a mile and a quarter roundtrip.
"Potrero" means meadow or pasture in spanish, the placename
identifying an unusual grassy hilltop
surrounded by some of the
densest chapparal the state has to offer. An unsigned trail runs
from the main road off the north side, dropping
more than 300ft to a saddle with the potrero. The trail
appears to be regularly maintained for equestrian travel and
marked with colored flagging. The trail continues from
Hi Mtn Potrero down a ridge to the northwest, eventually joining
Pozo Rd. I don't think there is any public access to the trail
at Pozo Rd. There are several points of similar elevation, but the
one identified by LoJ is the only one
covered in grass, the others
covered in dense chaparral and not very potrero-like. There is
plenty of poison oak along the route, but the trail mantenance
makes it easy to avoid.
This was my third visit to the lookout atop Hi Mtn, repeated here
only because it was nearby. On my previous visit in 2018, the
summit was socked in, so it was nice to have actual views, even if
a bit hazy. A locked gate leaves one about a quarter mile
of hiking to the summit and the lookout.
With more than 1,000ft of prominence, one can see
quite a distance across the Santa Lucia Wilderness and range.
An elderly couple were just leaving the summit when I arrived,
leaving me alone with the lookout and views. They had camped the
night in their Sprinter van at one of the many overlooks that I
drove by earlier in the morning. The Hi Mtn lookout
cabin was locked
as usual, but the observation deck was open for yet
It was a lovely day with crisp temperatures, nice breeze, and
some fun Jeeping. Time to head back to Pismo to rejoin my wife...