Tecuya Mountain (Southeast approach)
- Location: Southern Kern County near Frazier Park. From I-5, take exit 205 (Frazier Mtn. Park Road) and head west for 5 miles to Mt. Pinos Way. (Note that this is the second time Frazier Mountain Park Road and Mt. Pinos Way intersect; the first is in central Frazier Park.) Take a hard right and go 0.5 miles to West End Trail. Turn left and park where available by the fire station.
- Agency: Los Padres National Forest/Mt. Pinos Ranger District
- Distance: 4.8 miles
- Elevation gain: 2,050 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (Steepness, elevation gain)
- Suggested time: 3 hours
- Best season: Year round but hot during the summer and potential ice/snow hazards during the winter
- Recommended gear: hiking poles; sun hat
- USGS topo map: Frazier Mountain
- More information: Hundred Peaks page here; Map My Hike report here
- Rating: 8
Considering the panoramic views from the top and on the ascent and its relatively close (about an hour’s drive from the San Fernando Valley) location, it’s surprising that Tecuya Mountain isn’t more famous, but like the rest of the San Emigdio range, it doesn’t have the name recognition of the San Gabriels or San Bernardino peaks. In fact I originally discovered this mountain by accident, not knowing its name until I saw the summit register.
Frazier Park is known more as a skiing and off-road vehicle destination than for hiking, but many of the trails in the area are multi-purpose and thus there are several possible approaches to Tecuya. The route described here is the shortest but also quite steep, averaging almost 900 feet of vertical elevation gain per mile. From the fire station, head north on the West End Trail, a fire road, for a rather uninspiring 0.4 mile. At a Y-junction, bear left and head into a wooded canyon, where things become more scenic. You pass a metal gate at 0.7 mile and continue up canyon on a single-track, making a hairpin left turn at 0.9 mile.
The trail makes a rigorous ascent on the east-facing slope, making a few switchbacks before leveling out briefly in a mixed forest of pines and black oaks. At 1.4 mile you reach a saddle (elevation 6,157) where the main trail descends as it heads northwest. A use trail heads straight up the ridge, steeply climbing through an exposed landscape of trees burned in the Grand Fire of 2013. Though the grade is intense, the trail is fairly easy to follow; when in doubt, just go up. You may have to negotiate a downed tree or two but the terrain isn’t too difficult and your efforts are rewarded with terrific views on both sides.
After gaining about 650 feet in half a mile, you reach a bench where you get a view of Tecuya Mountain, still half a mile away. Your going becomes a little easier here as you work your way through more fallen trees, eventually entering the shade of a few pines that have survived the fire. One final ascent brings you to the round, bare summit of Tecuya Mountain.
Here, your views include the rest of the San Emigdio range, the Tehachapi Mountains and the distant San Gabriels; most impressive is the nearly aerial perspective on Cuddy Valley. After enjoying the view, make sure your legs are rested for the steep descent and retrace your steps back to the fire station.
Text and photography copyright 2016 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.