Frazier Mountain • Transverse Ranges
• Northeastern Ventura County

Date Climbed
May 29, 2009

Elevation
8,013 feet

Distance
2 miles hike

Time
1 hour hike,
2 hours total

Gain
500 feet

Conditions
Clear, nice

Prominence
2,453 feet

Click on the thumbnail to see a full-size version


Frazier Mountain as seen from CA-138 near Neenach
 

Junction of forest roads where I started my hike
 

Approaching the top
 

No more trees
 

Old lookout, with sign
 

Just the lookout

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Summitpost


Frazier Mountain is located in northeast Ventura County, slightly north of the town of Gorman and near the towns of Lebec and Frazier Park, just south of the famous "Grapevine" grade on Interstate-5, where the flat San Joaquin Valley meets up with the rugged transverse ranges of Southern California. An old lookout sits atop the summit of Frazier Mountain, and a dirt road leads to the top, coming from the west side. Climbing this peak is very simple and requires no real skill nor even physical fitness since the road really does go to the top, not just somewhere nearby, and in good conditions, a normal passenger vehicle should be able to manage the dirt road. Apparently the peak is very popular with hang gliders looking for a place to launch.

I first tried my luck with Frazier Mountain in 2007, but the big Day Fire of 2006 had scorched much of its slopes, as well as much of the nearby countryside, so at that time, the peak was closed to everyone while they cut down "problem" trees. For this trip, I had this peak planned, plus a couple more up near Lake Isabella, northeast of Bakersfield. I didn't leave home immediately after the semester had ended for a good reason: We adopted five wonderful little kittens to feed and care for until they could be adopted out. For the last two weeks I was the "kitty daddy", bottle feeding them and caring for them until they got old enough to eat on their own. Their adorableness was infinite.

I finally left Arizona on the afternoon of the 28th, making the long drive west to my brother's place in Cucamonga for an visit with his family, then crashing in Wrightwood for the night. The next morning, I left Wrightwood around 7 a.m., working my way west toward Frazier Mountain via Palmdale, Lancaster along Routes CA-138 and CA-14. Other than infinitely many traffic lights getting through Palmdale, the drive went well. The nicest part of the drive was the long stretch of CA-138 west of Lancaster, as it passes through Neenach, all the while the mountains closing in on the high desert with Frazier Mountain's big bulk in the distance. On Interstate-5 briefly, I exited at Frazier Park Road, went west another 6 miles to Lockwood Valley Road, then left there another mile to the turnoff to Frazier Mountain Road. I stopped in at the Los Padres Forest Ranger Station here to ask about the road to the top, and the guy said everything is open, have fun.

I drove up the paved continuation of Frazier Mountain Road (Forest Road 8-N-04), which narrows into a single lane for three miles to the Chuchupate Campground. Afterwards, a right fork continues o to the top. The road switchbacks up the west slopes through chaparral-covered hillsides, then enters into the pine forest. Another three miles (3.1, said my odometer), I came to the junctions with Forest Roads 8-N-04 and 8-N-24. These, along with another lesser road, form a loop to and from the summit. For those wishing to drive to the top, hang a right to stay on 8-N-04. I parked off in a clearing and opted for a casual loop hike. The summit was just a mile distant, about 500 feet higher.

There is a well-beaten use trail up the slope between the two aforementioned forest roads, and I chose to follow this. It led through some sparse forest and brush-covered slopes toward some rock outcrops, about a third of a mile of hiking and 250 feet of gain. At the rock outcrop there is a road, actually, a dead-end spur not shown on the map. I followed the road up past one junction and then to another, which put me on 8-N-42, a lesser-quality forest road that forms the loop with roads 04 and 24. From here I walked this road up to the top, leaving the forest for the final open stroll toward the communications equipment and old lookout tower. It had taken me 25 minutes.

The lookout tower is an old squat wooden structure, derelict and falling down ever so slowly. Even though it looked open to explore, I dared not trust the steps or the balcony. The views were fantastic, despite the hazy, moist air. Big Mount Pinos was visible to the northwest. I stayed on top 10 minutes, then walked back to my truck via 8-N-04, a round-trip hike of just less than an hour.

For grins I decided to drive back up to gauge the mileage and also check out the loop. I went up 8-N-04 to the lookout (1.2 miles according to my odometer), then down 8-N-42, which gets a little rough in spots. Road 8-N-42 goes for a mile where it meets with 8-N-24, which I followed back to the start of the loop, almost running into some ATVers in the process. The total round trip: 3 miles exactly. It could be hiked, and it would be a reasonably interesting day hike.

With Frazier Mountain now finished, I descended back to the Ranger Station, where I talked to the guy about Alamo Mountain, just to the south. That's where he told me it is still closed, but they hope to re-open it this summer. It just gives me an excuse to come back here again (which I did, in 2010).

I drove back out to Interstate-5 and had an enjoyable drive descending the Grapevine. As a kid we did this often as part of family vacations and I always enjoyed it, as the highway loses about 3,500 feet from Tejon Summit to the flatness of the San Joaquin Valley below, all in about 10 miles. I think the last time I drove down the Grapevine was in 2000. The downhill part is fun. Going up, you have to battle slow trucks and your own engine's thermostat. Once down, I exited the interstate and followed route CA-184 north through the exciting towns of Weedpatch and Lamont, getting into Bakersfield on its east side, where I stopped for a Subway sandwich. It was only noon, and I had one more peak planned, Breckenridge Mountain. The clouds were building.

(c) 2009 Scott Surgent. For entertainment purposes only. This report is not meant to replace maps, compass, gps and other common sense hiking/navigation items. Neither I nor the webhost can be held responsible for unfortunate situations that may arise based on these trip reports. Conditions (physical and legal) change over time! Some of these hikes are major mountaineering or backpacking endeavors that require skill, proper gear, proper fitness and general experience.