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Rinconada Trail - Los Padres National Forest

A 4.8 mile semi-loop trail near Pozo, California
id_4246468
Rating: 4 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Unknown
Length: 4.8 miles
Duration: 1-3 hours

Overview:  Rinconada Trail - Los Padres National Forest is about 4.7 miles long and located near Pippin Corner, California. The trail is great... more »

The Rinconada Trail connects Pozo Road with the unpaved Hi Mountain Lookout Road in the Santa Lucia District of Los Padres National Forest.  The trailhead is located on the south side of Pozo Road, roughly halfway between the turn-off for Santa Margarita Lake and Pozo.  A sign indicates the turn-off to the short unpaved road to the trailhead.

 

The trail starts on the east side of the trailhead parking lot, climbing steeply south through grassy meadows and oak woodlands to emerge into open chaparral.  Just past a cattle gate, it reaches a broad saddle with excellent views south into the Santa Lucia Wilderness.  While the main Rinconada Trail continues straight here, a more pleasant route is to turn left on an old road that descends, climbs, and descends again to reach Hi Mountain Lookout Road.  A right turn here leads along Hi Mountain Lookout Road to another intersection with the Rinconada Trail in about one mile.  Before turning to climb back up the Rinconada Trail, continue about 100 yards west to reach a the signed Little Falls Trail, which leads south into the Santa Lucia Wilderness to Little Falls.

Turning right back onto the Rinconada Trail, the route climbs steeply back to the saddle where the loop began.  From here, it's all downhill back down the Rinconada Trail to the trailhead.

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Tips: 

  • The Rinconada Trailhead has ample parking, but no other facilities.
  • This hike is best suited for a winter or spring visit.  Most of the route is unshaded and can get very hot during the summer and fall months.
  • Poison oak is EVERYWHERE along the first mile of the trail up to the cattle gate.
  • For post-hike refreshments, continue east on Pozo Road to the Pozo Saloon.  This local landmark was originally established in 1858 as a stagecoach stop, and features excellent food and drink, as well as ample historic ambience.  Open-air concerts are frequently held here on Sunday afternoons.

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Points of Interest

1. Rinconada Trailhead

A sign on the south side of West Pozo Road indicates the turn-off for the Rinconada Trailhead. Drive up a short gravel road to the large parking lot. The trail departs from the southeast corner of the lot.

2. Junction with old mine road

Stay left at this intersection with an old mine road that leads over to the Rinconada Mine.

3. Cattle gate

Reach this cattle gate just before the crest of the trail at a grassy saddle. The gate has a hiker pass-through. Mountain bikers and equestrians will need to close the gate behind them.

4. Grassy saddle

A trail junction here at the crest of the trail marks the start of the loop portion of the route. Turn left onto an old road to traverse over to Hi Mountain Lookout Road. You will be returning on the main Rinconada Trail, which continues straight over the saddle here.

5. Junction with Hi Mountain Lookout Road

At this junction, turn right onto Hi Mountain Lookout Road to continue the loop back to the Rinconada Trail.

6. Junction with Rinconada Trail

A large sign marks the junction with the Rinconada Trail. Turn right here to follow the trail back up to the grassy saddle.

7. Little Falls Trail junction

Only about 100 yards past the junction with the Rinconada Trail, the Little Falls Trail departs south from a well-signed junction on Hi Mountain Lookout Road. There are excellent views of Little Falls Canyon and the Santa Lucia Wilderness from here.