Mount McDill is the high point of the Sierra Pelona Mountains. The Sierra Pelona Mountains lie north of Highway CA 14 (Antelope Valley Highway), separating the Santa Clarita Valley to the south and Antelope Valley to the north. Mount McDill falls just outside the Angeles National Forest border. The views are quite spectacular on a clear day, with the San Gabriel Mountains to the south, Tehachapi and Southern Sierras to the north past the Antelope Valley and Santa Monica Mountains to the west. The summit can be accessed from various dirt roads or a longer trail hike along via the PCT. Mount McDill is on the Hundred Peaks List of the Sierra Club. It seems to be a popular area for dirt bikers so keep an eye out for them while you're on the trail.
From CA 14 (Antelope Valley Highway) take the Palmdale Blvd exit and head west. Palmdale Blvd becomes Elizabeth Lake Road, and take this for about 8.3 miles to the junction with Bouquet Canyon Road. Turn left (south) on Bouquet Canyon Road and take this for about 3.3 miles to an area labeled Lincoln Crest on most maps. You will notice a gated service road on the left and an Angeles National Forest sign to your right. There is ample parking here on both sides of the road, just don't block the gated service road. The parking area lies just barely outside of the Angeles National Forest so an Adventure Pass isn't required.
If coming from the south, there is a more scenic drive that takes you through Bouquet Canyon and along the Bouquet Reservoir. From CA 14 (Antelope Valley Highway) take the Sand Canyon Road exit and head north for 2 miles. The road will end at Sierra Highway, make a right on Sierra Highway. In 0.4 miles make a left onto Vasquez Canyon Road. Take Vasquez Canyon Road for 3.6 miles, and it will end at Bouquet Canyon Road. Turn right on Bouquet Canyon Road and take this for 14.7 miles to Lincoln Crest. This road has lots of sharp curves and is popular with cyclists so drive slowly and carefully.
Primary Route (6.7 miles RT):
From the locked gate, proceed up the dirt road a short ways. The road forks with the right branch heading away from the power lines. Stay left and follow the road that follows the power lines. About a mile in, the road forks again under the power lines and rejoins again. After this the road bends left and goes vaguely downhill. An unsigned trail on the right hand side leaves the road, take this trail (this is a shortcut). Follow the trail for a mile or so until it intersects the dirt road (the same one you were on earlier) at a switchback. Note your location for the return.Turn right onto the road and hike about 1/4 mile. This road intersects the dirt road that follows the ridge. Turn left (east) on the dirt road. Follow the dirt road for 0.7 miles further to the summit. There are four bumps of similar elevation in the summit area.The first is Mint; the second is the summit of McDill.
There is a rock on the summit that stands out and can be seen just pass Mint. The summit is flat and rounded. Don't miss the shortcut trail on the way back; it saves you about 2 miles of walking on the boring dirt road along the power lines.
Alternate Route via PCT from the North (12 miles RT):
If you want to double the mileage of the hike, you can start the hike on the PCT. At 2.66 miles to the west of Lincoln Crest (primary route parking) on Bouquet Canyon Road, the road will widen where you can park on the shoulder. You will need an Adventure Pass here as you are now in Angeles National Forest. From the parking area, follow the PCT south for2.77 miles to the ridge. Turn left (east) and follow the fire road for 2.38 miles to where it intersects with a road coming in on the left (north) at about elevation4887' (this is the road coming in from Primary Route). Follow the ridge and hike0.68 mile further to the summit.
Alternate Route via PCT from the South (16.8 miles RT):
This is the farthest approach from the South via the PCT. From CA 14 (Antelope Valley Freeway) take the Agua Dulce Canyon Road and head north for 4.2 miles (this road isn't straight, it will make a right and a left at one point but stay on Agua Dulce Canyon Road). At Sierra Highway, turn left and then immediately turn right onto Mint Canyon Road. You will immediately pass Peterson Road to your right, park here on Mint Canyon Road. Walk up Peterson Road and you will see a dirt road to your right and power lines. This is the beginning of the PCT. Turn right on dirt road and follow it for 0.5 miles to the PCT trail head that takes off to the left. Continue north for about 5 miles to the ridge. Turn right (east) and follow the fire road for 2.38 miles to where it intersects with a road coming in on the left (north) at about elevation4887' (this is the road coming in from Primary Route). Follow the ridge and hike0.68 mile further to the summit.
As far as I know Adventure Pass is not required at the parking area for Primary Route and Alternate Route via PCT from the South since it is just outside of the boundary of Angeles National Forest. If you are starting from the alternate route via PCT from the North, then you are in Angeles National Forest and so an Adventure Pass is required. Wilderness Permit is not required to hike here.
When to Climb
The first few miles of dirt road is exposed and once you're up on the ridge you are exposed as well. As with any hike around this area, start early if you want to avoid the sun and heat. Or simply check the weather and avoid hiking on hot days. Or bring lots of water, sunblock and a hat. The ridge line can get very windy.
Unfortunately this area has been neglected by the government bodies so there are no campsites nearby that are open...I believe the closest developed campground in the area is Castaic Lake. There are plenty of lodging accomodations in the area due to its close proximity to civilization.
External LinksLink to the Sierra Club 100 Peaks section