The last time I was in the tower was in July of 2006, the day before the big fire that closed much of the area for a couple of years. Norman, the fire lookout who was there yesterday, was there that day in 2006 as well.
One person will live in that tower for a week or so at a time, longer if there is a big fire and they can't get out. They have a bed, sink, small stove, and an amazing 360-degree view.
The direct road up to the lookout tower is one-lane, paved. To get back down we took a much longer alternate route, the unpaved, rutted and sometimes rocky Espinosa Trail. The views from the upper part of the trail are pretty spectacular. After that it drops into a ravine and follows a stream drainage, where the trail gets narrow and the brush scrapes against the side of the truck. This trail is definitely not for those who like to keep their paint pristine.
This year's heavy rains, combined with loss of ground cover in some areas from the massive 2006 fire, have left the trail carved up in many spots.
The last time we were out on this section of the trail, in July of 2006, it was about 100F and quite humid. Yesterday it was more like a spring day, probably not even 80F, with lots of flowers in bloom. Very pleasant.
Back down on Corral Canyon Road, which circles an OHV area.
Part of a fence along the road that leads back out to the highway.
Click here to see more images from our day in the mountains Saturday, July 3, 2010.
Click here to see images from the SCCX (Southern California Club Xterra) trip on this same route in July of 2006.
I took a brief detour to the top of Los Pinos Mountain one day in January of 2009 while on my way to the rail museum at Campo. The fire lookout was closed down of course, and the whole summit was fogged in, giving it a completely different feeling (and no view). You can click here to see a few more shots from that day. Here's what I saw starting back down from the summit.