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See the Retired Peak Guides in the Archives for Microsoft Word and other versions of this peak guide.


Lizard Head

(UTM 730423)

Location: Santa Barbara County, about 21 miles north-northwest of Ojai, 170 miles from Los Angeles


Auto ClubSanta Barbara County
Forest ServiceLos Padres National Forest: Mt Pinos, Ojai and Santa Barbara Ranger Districts
USGS ToposCuyama Peak 7½, Rancho Nuevo Creek 7½
Official HPS Maps TPO file - Save to your computer then open with National Geographic TOPO!
 Viewable PDF file - Approximately 3 megs
 GPX file or Google Earth KML file to download to GPS units and other map software (How to use GPX and KML files)
 Routes as shown on CalTopo using the above files (How to use CalTopo)

Nearby Peaks: Cuyama Peak (LO)

Printable version of this route

ROUTE 1 - Upper Tinta

(USFS Adventure Pass may be required)
Distance: 14 miles round trip on trail and cross-country
Gain: 2800'
Time: 7 hours round trip
Rating: Class 1, strenuous

Original: Al Campbell, 1972


  • Drive north on I-5 past the Grapevine to the SR 166 off-ramp. Turn left (west).
  • Head west 36.5 miles, passing through Maricopa, to the junction with SR 33 south. (There is a junction with SR 33 north in Maricopa that you will pass in Maricopa.) Turn left (south).
  • Go 2.7 miles to Foothill Road on the right. This intersection may also be reached by traveling north from Ojai or from Lockwood Valley. Set odometer here, and turn right (west) onto Foothill Road.
  • Go 2.1 miles, then turn left onto Santa Barbara Canyon Road (9N11).
  • At 5.0 miles, turn right at an intersection just past a ranch house.
  • At 9.3 miles, fork with Santa Barbara Ranch visible ahead. Go right and cross a creek. The pavement ends.
  • At 12.5 miles, turn left at Dry Canyon Road.
  • At 18.0 miles an obscure gated road/trail on the right. Park here.


  • From the parking area (4600'), hike down the right fork of the road past the barrier about 1 1/4 miles to Upper Tinta Campground (4500').
  • The Upper Tinta Campground is not shown on the Topo map and is no longer maintained. The site is reached by a faint use trail that turns south from the main trail into a grove of trees, along the creekbed.
  • From here, hike southwest up a firebreak along the low ridge to the left (east) of the campground. (Don't start up the inviting firebreak on the right!)
  • Continue up the firebreak across the bump at 5300' (visible from the campground) and up to the main (east-west) ridge at 5600'+.
  • Turn right (west) and go about 500 feet to the ridge running south. From here, Lizard Head is visible as the 6th bump along this ridge.
  • Follow the firebreak along this ridge, going first south, then southeast.
  • At the bump just southeast of elevation 5562', there is is a wide, bare spot (former heliport). The firebreak ends here.
  • Continue along the ridge another mile to the summit, which is a large sloping rock outcrop.


If the Cuyama River is impassable, return to the junction of SR 166 and SR 33 and go as follows:

  • Go west on SR 166 for 4.7 miles to a bridge over the Cuyama River, and an immediate junction past the bridge, on your left. This is Kirschenmann Road (paved). Turn left.
  • Continue 2.4 miles to the end of Kirschenmann at Foothill Road. Turn left (east).
  • Drive 3 miles to Santa Barbara Canyon Road on the right (south). Turn right and continue as above.

Dry Canyon Road may be closed in the early spring.

Printable version of this route

ROUTE 2 - Rancho Nuevo Creek

(USFS Adventure Pass may be required)
Distance: 16 miles round trip on trail and cross-country
Gain: 2600'
Time: 10 hours round trip
Rating: Class 1, very strenuous

Original: Luella Martin


  • Drive north on I-5 past Gorman to the Frazier Park exit. Turn left (west).
  • Drive west 7 miles to Lake of the Woods junction. Turn left (south) toward Lockwood Valley.
  • Drive 27 miles to the end of Lockwood Valley road at SR 33.
  • Drive north 2.1 miles to Rancho Nuevo Camp Road (7N04) on the left (west side of SR 33). High clearance vehicle is required to cross Cuyama River. Note your odometer and go as follows:
  • At 0.8 mile, fork. Go left.
  • At 1.5 miles, Rancho Nuevo Campground. Park here.

NOTE: Ordinary vehicles should park near the gate (just west of SR 33). Parking Here adds about 3 miles round trip and 1.5 hours to the hike. If the gate is locked, this implies that there is high water in Rancho Nuevo Creek and that the hike would be much more difficult.


  • From the campground (elev 3520') hike west up trail 24W03 about 5.5 miles to Upper Rancho Nuevo Campsite at 4040', which is at the end of the trail and is marked by a fire ring.
  • From the camp, continue up the canyon about 1.4 miles around three oxbow bends, the first on the north side, the second on the south side, and the third on the north side. Beware of the side canyon that comes in from the south between the second and third oxbow bends: it is easy to mistake it for the main canyon which goes southwest here.
  • Continue up the main canyon to the broad flat at 4200' elevation on the north side of the creek, SSE of bump 4772'.
  • From here ascend the ridge on the west side of the flat area. Then hike north up the ridge over bump 4772', passing a saddle at about 4700'. Continue north along this steep ridge to its end at elev. 5280+'.
  • Continue northwest ¼ mile to the summit, the bare summit block.


Route 2 description is based on a trip just after the 2007 Zaca fire, when hiking conditions were excellent.

The dominant vegetation along the Rancho Nuevo trail is wild roses which, if high and thick, can make hiking miserable. The climb along the ridge is apt to be very brushy when the brush grows back after the fire.

Printable version of this route


(USFS Adventure Pass may be required)
Distance: 20 miles round trip on trail and cross-country
Gain: 2700'
Time: 8 hours round trip
Rating: Class 2, strenuous

Original: Peter Doggett, September 2016


The driving directions are the sames as Cuyama Peak Route 2.
  • Drive north on I-5 to the Frazier Park exit (about 45 miles from Sylmar).
  • Drive west on the Frazier Mtn. Park Road for 7 miles to Lake of the Woods.
  • Turn Left onto the Lockwood Valley Road.
  • Drive on this road for 27 miles until one meets SR-33.
  • Turn right and proceed 2.0 miles to a dirt road on the left marked by a sign indicating "Dick Smith Wilderness Access".
  • Turn left & reset odometer.
  • After about 0.2 mile, road crosses the Cuyama River (which could be flooded, high-clearance vehicles could be required).
  • After 0.8 mile, turn Right at junction of 7N04 and 7N04A.
  • At 2.6 miles, Tinta Campground. Park here. Ample parking.


  • From the campground (3650'), hike west & northwest up a Forest Service trail for 3.5 miles to the junction with the Brubaker Canyon Road at 4199'. This trail is a designated OHV motorcycle trail (Route 101), shown on USFS maps as 24W02.
  • Continue to the west another 2 miles to Upper Tinta Campgroup (4500'). The Upper Tinta Campground is on the left and about 50 yards from the trail.
  • From the Upper Tinta Campground, continue up to Lizard Head following the Lizard Head Route 1 directions.

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