The Topatopa mountain range is a small yet very rugged and mostly inaccesible group of peaks in the Sespe wilderness of the Los Padres National Forest in southwest Ventura county. The Topatopas are one of California's Transverse mountain ranges
, part of the Pacific Cordillera, a series of ranges along the Pacific coast from Alaska to the tip of Baja. This area is home to the endangered California condor
and in 1947 the Sespe Condor Sanctury (35,000 acres)was established by the USFS to protect the condor's habitat. The sanctuary was expanded to 53,000 acres in 1954. The sanctury is closed to humans so the rare birds can nest undisturbed. Hines Peak, the highpoint of the range, is located just outside the sanctuary boundry and is therefore accessible to hikers and condor watchers. Bring some binoculars.
From SR126 in Santa Paula go 8.8 miles north on SR150 to Sisar Avenue, turn right, go right at the fork and park at the end of the road (1 mile).
From the gate, walk up the road (5N08) about 3 miles to the junction with trail 21W08. There is a sign marking the trail. Follow trail 21W08 2.5 miles to Nordhoff Ridge Road (4N15), turn right on the road and follow it 3.5 miles to the saddle at the northwest shoulder of Hines Peak. Follow the use trail up the ridge to the summit. The hike from the sadddle to the summit takes about 20 minutes.
- 19-22 miles roundtrip, depending on which trail signs you go by.
- 5000 feet elevation gain.
The Sespe Condor Sanctuary is closed to the public.
A National Forest Adventure Pass or Golden Eagle Pass is required for parking at the trailhead.
Overnight permits are not required in the Sespe Wilderness.
Camping is allowed in the Los Padres National Forest; you may camp anywhere on the mountain. No wilderness permit is required in the Sespe Wilderness, but wilderness regulations
No camping allowed at the trailhead.
When to climb and weather links
Hines Peak is climbable year round. Snowfall is rare and winter days are often in the 70's. Summer days can be very hot, although sometimes, days can be cool and cloudy due to the proximity to the ocean.
~Los Padres National Forest
Day Hikes in Ventura County California
by Robert Stone (Day Hike Books)