Jupiter Mountain/Juno Peak (Sierra Pelona)
- Location: Spunky Canyon Road, north of Bouquet Reservoir in northern Los Angeles County. From Santa Clarita, take the 14 Freeway to Golden Valley Rd. Head west for 3.8 miles and turn right to stay on Golden Valley Rd. In another 2.2 miles, turn left on Plum Canyon Rd. In 0.9 mile, turn right onto Bouquet Canyon Road. Follow Bouquet Canyon Rd. 14.3 miles and make a hard left onto Spunky Canyon Rd. Go 2.7 miles and park in a dirt turnout on the left side of the road, opposite dirt Spunky Edison Road (unsigned). From Palmdale, take Elizabeth Lake Rd. west for 7.6 miles. Turn left onto Bouquet Canyon Road and to 6.5 miles. Bear right onto Spunky Canyon Rd. and follow it 2.7 miles to the parking area on the left side of the street across from Spunky Edison Road.
- Agency: Angeles National Forest, Santa Clarita and Mojave Rivers Ranger District
- Distance: 3.8 miles
- Elevation gain: 1,450 feet
- Suggested time: 2.5 hours
- Difficulty rating: PG-13 (steepness, elevation gain)
- Best season: Oct – May
- Recommended gear: hiking poles sun hat
- Dogs: Allowed
- Cell phone reception: Fair on and near the peaks; none in the lower areas
- Water: None
- Restrooms: None
- Camping: None
- More information: Trip descriptions here and here
- Rating: 8
Jupiter Mountain (elevation 4,498) towers more than one thousand feet above Bouquet Reservoir. It’s possible to visit both Jupiter and neighboring Juno Peak, known also as Jupiter Mountain West, with a few hours of rigorous hiking. The views from both summits are among the best in north Los Angeles County.
From the turnout, follow the dirt fire road uphill through a grove of pines. In about one hundred yards, the road splits with the left fork heading steeply up an eroded fire break and the right ascending at a more mellow grade. Though the climb to Jupiter via the left fork (more than 1,000 feet in less than a mile) will be trying, there are advantages to taking this route. If you only have time for Jupiter, this route will get you there more quickly and after all of the steep climbs and descents, hiking the loop in this direction (clockwise) will allow you to end the hike with a moderately graded, easy going descent.
The road climbs sharply to a bend where you get views of the reservoir. It then continues its relentless ascent up the exposed fire break, briefly leveling out half a mile from the start and about 550 feet higher. At this bump, Jupiter’s summit comes into view. Two more steep ascents bring you to the summit, one mile from the start, where you can sit on a bench and enjoy some well-earned rest and enjoy a 360-degree view including the reservoir, the high desert, the distant Tehachapi Mountains and more.
With most of the climbing out of the way, you can now add Juno Peak, clearly visible to the west, without too much difficulty. A single-track trail descends steeply from the summit over occasionally loose and rocky terrain. You drop to a saddle (1.3 miles) where an unsigned but clear trail branches off to the right; this is the return route. Continuing along the ridge, the trail makes one last steep descent to a saddle before beginning the climb to Juno Peak. At 2 miles from the start, you reach Juno’s summit (elevation 4,431). The views are similar to those from Jupiter Peak, including a particularly dramatic perspective on San Francisquito Canyon.
When ready retrace your steps back to the saddle (2.7 miles) and bear left on the single-track. It makes a pleasant traverse along the oak chaparral-covered north slope of Jupiter Mountain, with nice views of Spunky Canyon Road below. At 3.6 miles, the trail ends at a dirt road. Follow the dirt road a short distance to the start of the loop and retrace your steps back to the parking area.
Photo gallery (click thumbnails to see the full sized versions)
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.