** Use at Your Own Risk **
See the Retired Peak Guides in the Archives for Microsoft Word and other versions of this peak guide.
Location: Santa Barbara County, about 24 miles north of Santa Barbara, 145 miles from Los Angeles
- Auto Club: Santa Barbara County
- Forest Service: Los Padres National Forest: Mt Pinos, Ojai and Santa Barbara Ranger Districts
- USGS Topo: Fox Mountain 7½, Salisbury Potrero 7½, Madulce Peak 7½, Big Pine Mountain 7½
explanation of usage
Nearby Peaks: Madulce Peak, Big Pine Mountain, West Big Pine
Printable version of this route
(USFS Adventure Pass required)
- Distance: 25 miles round trip on road and use trail
- Gain: 4600' total, 4300' out plus 300' on return
- Time: 15 hours round trip
- Rating: Class 2, very strenuous
Original: John Backus, May 1981
- Update: New route that bypasses Chokecherry Gully -
Byron Prinzmetal and George Wysup, May 2002
DRIVING ROUTE 1
- Drive north on I-5 past the Grapevine to the SR 166 off-ramp. Turn
- Head west 36.5 miles, passing through Maricopa, to the junction with
SR 33 south. This junction may be reached by a slower route via SR 33
north from Ojai. (There is a junction with SR 33 north in Maricopa that
you will pass in Maricopa.) Turn left (south).
- Go 2.7 miles to Foothill Road on the right. Turn right (west).
- Go 2.1 miles, crossing the Cuyama River, to the Santa Barbara Canyon
Road (9N11) on the left. Turn left, note your odometer, and go as
- At 3.1 miles, just past a ranch house, junction with a dirt road on
the left and a paved road on the right with a sign "Santa Barbara
Canyon Road". Turn right.
- At 7.5 miles, fork with Santa Barbara Ranch visible ahead. Go right
and cross a creek. The pavement ends.
- At 9.5 miles, a cattle guard and gate.
- At 10.0 miles, a hard to see dirt road on right. This is the turnoff
for Fox Mountain #1. Keep straight.
- At 10.8 miles, fork with Dry Canyon Road on the left. This is the
turnoff for Lizard Head and
Cuyama Peak (LO). Keep straight.
- At 12.6 miles, a locked gate. Park here.
If the Cuyama River is impassable, return to the junction of SR 166
and SR 33 and go as follows:
- Go west on SR 166 for 4.7 miles to a bridge over the Cuyama
River, and an immediate junction past the bridge, on your left. This is
Kirschenmann Road (paved). Turn left.
- Continue 2.4 miles to the end of Kirschenmann at Foothill Road. Turn
- Drive 3 miles to Santa Barbara Canyon Road on the right (south). Turn
right and continue as above.
HIKING ROUTE 1
- From the parking area (3440'), hike through the small gate (close it
after you) and continue up the road.
- At 4 miles there are the posts of a
second gate; off the road to the right is a flat area suitable for
- Continue up the road, keeping left at a fork with Sierra Madre
Road about 1/2 mile farther, and go about 5 miles farther to
Chokecherry Spring (5500'), marked by a water trough and a large
water tank. This is the turnoff for all nearby peaks.
Chokecherry Spring, go north down the road about 1/4 mile to
a narrow gully
on the left (west).
- Climb up this gully and where it gets tricky, zigzag up the slope to
your left to the ridgeline. Be sure to mark this location for
your return. (Please note: this route while steep with the potential
for some dangerous rock fall is much safer than the old route up
Chokecherry Gully). Continue about 200 meters to the top ridge.
- At the top, turn left on an old trail cut through the brush.
Follow this up the ridge, then down to the right to a meadow. Pick up the
trail again at ducks at the north end of the meadow and follow it to the
top of the main ridge.
- Turn right on the ridge and follow the trail, which
goes generally around the first bump on the east, around the second bump
on the west, and over the top of the third bump.
- From this bump go down
along the ridge and up to the summit, marked by a benchmark, 'SAMON'.
Samon Peak is in the San Rafael Wilderness Area. Campfire permits are
This trail gets overgrown, so be prepared! Please perform use
generally climbed with Madulce, Big
Pine and West Big Pine on a 2-4 day backpack
trip, preferably around Easter before the area gets too hot. For all four
peaks, the distance is 50 miles, the gain is about 9200', and the whole
experience is strenuous. There is water at Chokecherry Spring. If you camp
at Alamar, you must carry overnight water 3 miles and about 1000' gain
from Chokecherry Spring or plan to hike down to Bear Camp for water.
Together these peaks are known as the "Big Four". It is also
possible to combine these with the "Big Three" by hiking from
West Big Pine to San Rafael
Mountain. To do this, use the Mission Pine Trail. It goes west
through Mission Pine Basin and on to San Rafael Camp just east of
San Rafael Mountain. From there it is a short hike
to the summit of San Rafael Mountain. Water in
Mission Pine Basin is not reliable.
STATISTICS FOR THE BIG FOUR
- Trailhead to Chokecherry Spring: 19 miles round trip, 9 hours, 2400'
gain with 300' on the return.
- Chokecherry to Samon Peak: 6 miles round trip, 1900' gain.
- Chokecherry to Madulce saddle: 3.5 miles round trip, 700' gain,
- Madulce saddle to Madulce Peak: 7 miles round trip, 4 hours, 1600'
- Madulce saddle to Alamar Station: 2.5 miles round trip, 1.5 hours, 600'
gain on the return.
- Alamar station to Big Pine junction: 5.5 miles round trip, 2.5 hours,
800' gain with 100' on the return.
- Big Pine junction to Big Pine Mountain: 1 mile round trip, 1 hour, 500'
- Big Pine junction to West Big Pine: 5 miles round trip, 2.5 hours,
300' gain with 100' on the return.
Please report any corrections or changes to the
Mountain Records Chair.
Hundred Peaks Section, Angeles Chapter, Sierra Club
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