This nearly 13-mile round trip hike boasts rock formations, nice campsites, and an interesting turn-around point at Pine Mountain Lodge Camp.
From the trailhead, head east on Sespe River Trail
, cross Sespe Creek to reach an intersection. At the signed junction, stay left and head to the next signed junction with Middle Sespe Trail
, turn right onto Piedra Blanca - Gene Marshall National Recreation Trail
. The intriguing rock formation of Piedra Blanca is in view for most of this part of the hike and is reached in about 0.5 miles. Take some time and explore the formations then continue hiking north as the trail begins to follow Piedra Blanca Creek and the canyon.
Piedra Blanca Camp is about 2.3 miles along the trail. Less than 0.5 miles from the camp, there is a small spur trail off to the right which crosses the North Fork of Piedra Blanca Creek; this trail leads to Twin Forks Camp. The main trail continues to follow North Fork Piedra Blanca Creek, but veers away as the trail ascends steeply from 4 to 5.75 miles.
Pine Mountain Lodge Camp is reached at 6.3 miles along the trail, and lies at the junction with Cedar Creek Trail. If you're looking for a long day hike, rest here and then head on back down the trail. Otherwise, Pine Mountain Lodge Camp makes for an interesting campsite to explore. The camp is located amongst cedar and pine trees, and sandstone outcrops. There are two campsites to choose from, an upper and lower. There are quite a few people who visit the camp but likely it won't be crowded. After a restful night, head back the way you came.
Thanks to John McKinney, The Trailmaster, for sharing this trail description. To learn more about trails in California, check out his guides at The Trailmaster Store.
The trail weaves through oak woods and pine forests. Bears are commonly spotted at Pine Mountain Lodge Camp.
Pine Mountain Lodge Camp was once a hunting and fishing lodge that stood on the slopes of Pine Mountain. The lodge was built in 1895 by L.A. Patton and Essington Gibson. In 1898, it began use as a Patrol Station for the Forest Service. In 1958, the Forest Service tried to remove a dead tree that was threatening to fall on the roof; however, as they worked to remove it, the tree fell and the cabin was crushed.