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Hike Pacifico Mountain On The Pct

Hike Pacifico Mountain on the PCT

In This Guide
  • Video and Turn-by-Turn Directions to Hike Pacifico Mountain on the PCT
  • Parking and Fees for the Hike
  • Camping on Pacifico Mountain
  • Insider Tips and Recommendations
Total Distance (?)13.5 miles (21.7 km)
Hike Time5-7 Hours (Total)
Difficulty (?)Moderate
Total Ascent (?)2,350 feet (716m)
Highest Elevation7,124 feet (2171m)
Fees & PermitsParking Fee
Dogs AllowedLeashed
Alerts & Closures (?)Angeles National Forest
Park Phone747-322-6574
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If you want to get off the beaten path in Angeles National Forest, head over to the Pacifico Mountain hike. Pacifico Mountain, the highest peak in the northwestern part of the forest, offers unique views spanning from Mt Baldy to Los Padres National Forest to Nevada. There are several approaches to the summit of Pacifico Mountain, and we’ll take what I think is the most scenic one up the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). It’s a great hike without big crowds.

Where is Pacifico Mountain?

We’ll start this hike at the Mill Creek Summit Picnic Area, off of the Angeles Forest Highway (N3), a popular commuting route between the desert and LA. Use this trailhead address:
Mill Creek Summit Picnic Area, Angeles Forest Hwy, Palmdale, CA 93550

Pacifico Mountain Hike Directions 4
There’s a big parking area at Mill Creek that I’ve never seen full.

You need a National Parks pass or Adventure Pass to park here.

Pacifico Mountain Hike Directions 5
There’s a toilet but no water fills at the trailhead.

Gear For the Hike

Garmin Inreach Mini Beacon

Garmin inReach Mini
If you’re not familiar with the Garmin InReach technology, it allows you to send and receive text messages where you don’t have cell phone signals. You can also get weather reports and trigger an SOS to emergency responders. Even if you don’t have an emergency, sending a quick message telling a loved one that you’re okay or are running late is well worth the cost.

Latest Prices: Amazon | REI 
My Review & Guide
How is this Different than a GPS?

Lone Peak 5

Altra Lone Peak 5
For most people, the Altra Lone Peak is a solid choice that will leave your feet feeling great at the end of any hike. The feel is cushy and light, and if it had a car equivalent, this would be a Cadillac or Mercedes Sedan. The grip is great and they’re reasonably durable for this type of trail runner, which I think is better in most conditions than a hiking boot, and here’s why. The downside of this shoe is that it won’t last as long as something like the Moab 2 (see alternate footwear choices at the bottom of my gear page). I’ve been using mine for many miles and my feet always feel great. Watch my video explaining why they are a great shoe here.

Women’s Latest Prices: REI | Amazon 
Men’s Latest Prices: REI | Amazon 

Black Diamond Ergo Poles 2

Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles
I’ve gone back and forth on trekking poles, but I think for most people they are a good investment. They help you dig in on the uphills, provide stability on loose downhills, act as a brace when crossing streams, and can probably poke away aggressive wildlife in a pinch. The Trail Ergo Cork poles are a good balance of light weight, durability, affordability, and ease of use. If you want something ultralight and a little more pricey, I’ve had great luck with the Black Diamond Z Poles too.

Trail Ergo Poles: REI | Amazon 
Z-Poles: REI | Amazon 

Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated January 2022.

My January 2022 Top Gear Picks

No company pays me to promote or push a product, all the gear you see here is gear I use and recommend. If you click an a link and buy gear, I get a small commission that helps keep the website ad and promotion free. There is no cost to you.

Camping Options

This hike offers some great short overnight camping options. It’s especially great if you want to camp after work and get back in the morning, as the distances aren’t long, and the climbing isn’t bad. You can even drive your car to the summit (I’d recommend high-clearance AWD) and just camp.

Pacifico Mountain Hike Directions 1
The summit area has several camp areas where you can pull a car up and get great views.
Pacifico Mountain Hike Directions 2
There are also at least a dozen of flat PCT primitive tent sites along the trail. The best ones are when you get to the flat section along the ridge.

Pacifico Mountain Trail Maps

Pacifico Mountain Hike Directions 3
Much of the area along this hike was destroyed in the 2009 Station Fire, and you can still see evidence of it today.

We will take the PCT from Mill Creek up to a saddle, and then do the last mile on a dirt road (with great views). There aren’t a lot of twists and turns, and overall the gradient is gentle.

Click Here To View

Explore Map on CalTopoView a Printable PDF Hike MapDownload the Hike GPX File

If you try to download the GPX file and your browser adds a “.txt” or “.xml” extension to it, simply rename it as a “.gpx” file.

Gaiagps

How Are You Going to Navigate This Hike?
If you are a hardcore hiker and/or hike in extreme conditions, I recommend getting a dedicated GPS like a GPSMAP 66sr or 66i, or a wrist-based GPS with maps like the Garmin Fenix 6. If you only hike in fair weather and a touchscreen is fine, or just want a solid tool, I highly recommend downloading the smartphone app, Gaia GPS. It’s a piece of cake to use and very powerful, just make sure your phone is in airplane mode so the battery doesn’t drain. You can also check for wildfires, weather, snow, and choose from dozens of map types with a premium membership (HikingGuy readers get a big discount here). Note that I also carry a paper map with me in case the phone dies or gets smashed.

Elevation Profile

Pacifico Mountain Hike Elevation
It’s a gentle climb to about the mid-way point, where you get a flat breather along the ridgeline, and then do the final climb to the summit.

3D Map

Pacifico Mountain Hike 3d Map
From Mill Creek, we ascend around the steep Tie Canyon, then up to the ridge where the views open up. From there we head along the spine to the summit.

Pacifico Mountain Hike Directions

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Video Directions

Watch This Video In 360/VR Why 360/VR Is Great

Turn by Turn Directions

Pacifico Mountain Hike Directions 6
The trailhead is on the corner, across Pacifico Mountain Road.
Pacifico Mountain Hike Directions 7
There’s a nice big PCT marker at the start of the trail.
Pacifico Mountain Hike Directions 8
The steepest part of the hike is right at the beginning, as the trail leaves the road.
Pacifico Mountain Hike Directions 9
Avoid the small cutoff to the Pony Park equestrian trailhead and continue straight.
Pacifico Mountain Hike Directions 10
Now we start the gradual climb.
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You’ll wind around and along the folds on the side of the canyon. The views are great.
Pacifico Mountain Hike Directions 12
As you wind into Tie Canyon, look up to see the trail continue above you.
Pacifico Mountain Hike Directions 13
In the distance you’ll be able to see the Tehachapi Mountains, which separate the Mojave from California’s Central Valley to the north (Bakersfield, etc.).
Pacifico Mountain Hike Directions 14
Once you get around Tie Canyon, the trail doubles back with some switchbacks. In front of you is Granite Mountain at 6603 feet.
Pacifico Mountain Hike Directions 15
And back across the valley from where you started, you can see Mount Gleason, home to the (now closed) highest elevation Nike Missile site in the country at 6523 feet. The road to the summit is paved and you can drive up there.
Pacifico Mountain Hike Directions 16
And then you crest the ridge, and can see north into the Mojave.
Pacifico Mountain Hike Directions 17
The trail then levels out and heads east along the ridge. In the distance, Pacifico Mountain, which looks closer than it actually is. There are a few nice primitive camping spots along this stretch.
Pacifico Mountain Hike Directions 18
You’ll leave the scrub and enter the shade of some pines that survived the forest fires. Stay straight on the PCT.
Pacifico Mountain Hike Directions 19
The trail is level here as it hugs the ridge.
Pacifico Mountain Hike Directions 20
Eventually you’ll approach the saddle where we are going to hop onto the road.
Pacifico Mountain Hike Directions 21
At the saddle, we’re going to continue through and make the right. The PCT heads off to the left.
Pacifico Mountain Hike Directions 22
There’s a sign here that needed some TLC during my visit.
Pacifico Mountain Hike Directions 23
At the split, go right to the road. There’s also use trail on the left that climbs steeply and directly to the summit, which we’re not going to take. Head to the road.
Pacifico Mountain Hike Directions 24
Now you’re on the road for the last mile to the summit.
Pacifico Mountain Hike Directions 25
And immediately the views open up. In the clouds on the left is Saddleback Mountain, and on the right Monrovia Peak.
Pacifico Mountain Hike Directions 26
And then Mt Wilson, Mt Disappointment, and Strawberry Peak.
Pacifico Mountain Hike Directions 27
The road winds around to the north past some informal campsites.
Pacifico Mountain Hike Directions 29
Look back to your right as you turn north. You’ll see views of (left to right) Mt Baldy, Mt Waterman and the Twin Peaks.
Pacifico Mountain Hike Directions 28
And to the north you’ll see into the Mojave. On a clear day you can even spot Mt Charleston, which is outside of Las Vegas.
Pacifico Mountain Hike Directions 30
When you get to the campground sign, make the hard left to hit the summit.
Pacifico Mountain Hike Directions 31
The summit area is this group of boulders. There are some use trails heading into it.
Pacifico Mountain Hike Directions 32
You can climb to the top of the bigger boulders to reach the “top top.”
Pacifico Mountain Hike Directions 33
Or just check out the summit marker on the lower boulder.

Pacifico, which means peaceful, accurately describes the vibe up here. Some people think the peak is named Pacifico because you can sometimes see the ocean from here. Others speculate it was named by the bandit that the Zorro stories were based on, Tiburcio Vásquez, who had a hideout nearby at Sheep Springs.

Pacifico Mountain Hike Directions 34
The views are okay from the summit boulders, but you’ll want to visit the campsites around the permitter to enjoy better views.
Pacifico Mountain Hike Directions 35
The campground has a toilet.
Pacifico Mountain Hike Directions 36
Enjoy the summit, and then head back down the way you came up.

You can also make this a loop by taking the road back down, but I find the hike on the PCT to be much nicer.

This guide last updated on October 1, 2021. Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.

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