Santa Cruz Trail
ElevationAscent: 6,584' 2,007 m
Descent: -2,612' -796 m
High: 5,351' 1,631 m
Low: 1,343' 409 m
GradeAvg Grade: 9% (5°)
Max Grade: 28% (15°)
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“This 19-mile trail moves through canyons and over mountains in the Los Padres National Forest and San Rafael Wilderness.”— John McKinney
Restoration work on the trail is underway, but will take some time to complete.
From here, the Santa Cruz Trail meanders to the north as it crosses Oso Creek, switchbacks through grass-filled meadows, dips in and out of canyons, and then crosses an area of grey-green soil. The trail will then take you uphill a ways to a saddle between Little Pine Mountain and the ridge you're on, known as Little Pine Saddle.
If you want to reach the top of Little Pine Mountain, you'll have to leave the Santa Cruz Trail to the right and follow the Little Pine Spur as it climbs steeply to the summit. You'll reach a wood-and-wire fence and bear right again to head to the top.
If you choose not to summit Little Pine Mountain, you can continue to follow the Santa Cruz Trail as it heads north for nearly 15 more miles through the mountains of Los Padres National Forest and into the San Rafael Wilderness. The trail will ultimately come to an end as it reaches a junction with the Mission Pine Trail.
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.
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Family Friendly, ADA Accessible, Need to Know, Dogs Allowed, Flora & Fauna
Land Manager: USFS - Los Padres National Forest Office