Arrowhead Ahead

Fall Color Hike on Sawmill Road Loop Trail Near Lake Arrowhead

Fall Color Hike Sawmill Road Near Lake Arrowhead

Deciduous black oaks and Fremont cottonwoods line the Sawmill Road Loop Trail near Lake Arrowhead, making the 2.9-mile (round-trip) hike one of the best in SoCal for a seasonal kaleidoscope of changing leaves.

Starting from the trailhead, you’re almost immediately immersed in shade cast by the yellow and green leaves of the black oaks. Continue farther along to see the green valleys of the San Bernardinos peppered with golden yellows. The first 1.8-mile segment of the trek follows Rouse Ranch Road—mostly downhill, with some slight incline, on the popular off-roading route. When you hook left at the sign marked “to 2N29Y,” you’ll link up with Sawmill Road.

Gallery image 1 of 3
Gallery image 2 of 3
Gallery image 3 of 3

At about 1.9 miles you’ll rapidly ascend 150 feet. The greater height brings greater views, as well as less shade. Just past 2 miles, turn left off Sawmill Road onto a narrow trail where the off-roaders can’t go—this section is just for hikers. Here you’ll see many of the Fremont cottonwoods and some of the starkest yellow leaves, in the trees and carpeting the ground. You’ll also get a brief view of Lake Arrowhead through the foliage.

When you reach pavement, you’ll be passing through North Shore Campground. Follow the pavement as far left as it will go and you’ll find the last bit of trail heading downhill to where you parked. This is also your last chance to soak in those autumn colors.

Gallery image 1 of 2
Gallery image 2 of 2

From CA-18 (Rim of the World Hwy.) in Lake Arrowhead, turn north onto CA-173 for 2.6 miles and then turn right on Torrey Rd. Continue straight onto Rouse Ranch Rd. and drive past the pavement onto the dirt road for a short distance. A large dirt parking area is on the right side of the road. Parking coordinates: 34.266179, -117.161860. Dog-friendly!

Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. Image that represents the story

    Pinnacles of Spring

    Why hike at Pinnacles National Park? The wildflowers are in overdrive during spring. And you might spy the magnificent California condor soaring while you gain soaring views from the High Peaks Trail.

    View
  2. Image that represents the story

    Do it Yourself Walking Tour of Solvang

    Solvang has long been described as a “little slice of Denmark in Southern California." Experience the historic village on a 3-mile walk that explores the architecture, food, wine, and green space.

    View
  3. Image that represents the story

    Truly Grand Day Hike

    One of the best spring day hikes in the Grand Canyon? See layer upon layer of the park’s grandeur—including the river—on this 3-mile (one-way) journey to Skeleton Point via the South Kaibab Trail.

    View
  4. Image that represents the story

    Garden of the Gods

    A 1-mile out-and-back trail in 23-acre Garden of the Gods threads through sandstone boulders that were natural icons of Hollywood’s Golden Age, back when this site was known as the Iverson Movie Ranch.

    View

Trending Stories Northern CA

View all Stories
  1. Image that represents the story
    Sponsored

    Wildflower Hiking Guide

    California’s wildflowers will be lovely this spring! So how do you find the best in bloom? Check out POST’s complimentary Wildflower Guide to find the best hiking trails with wildflowers.

    View
  2. Image that represents the story

    Moore Wildflowers!

    Napa's got poppies on parade! Hike the 4.3-mile Valentine Vista Trail at Moore Creek Park. It's spectacular for views, and the spring wildflowers are a colorful bonus!

    View
  3. Image that represents the story

    Tam It All

    The hills have gone green just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, and this 7.5-mile lollipop loop hike passes through some of Mount Tam’s lushest spots, with bridges, creeks, a waterfall, and big views.

    View
  4. Image that represents the story

    Footloose in the Foothills

    In spring, Diablo Foothills Regional Park bursts with green rolling hills, wildflowers, and some of the lushest views of Mount Diablo itself. Go on an 8-mile loop among this verdant scenery.

    View