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

    Bouquet of Waterfalls

    Like a good love letter, some of the best hiking trails are short and sweet. Cue the hike to Bouquet Falls in Santa Clarita Valley’s Bouquet Canyon.

    View
  2. Image that represents the story

    New Rules of the Trail

    As some parks around California begin to re-open, we came up with tips for being responsible on your outdoor adventures. Let’s do our part so we can all keep enjoying the parks.

    View
  3. Image that represents the story

    Big Time Hike

    This is the largest grove of giant sequoias in Yosemite. We recommend this grand tour hike at 7.5 miles which includes a spectacular overlook.

    View
  4. Image that represents the story
    Sponsored

    All Roads Lead to Rogue

    Idea for your next road trip: Go Rogue! The Rogue Valley in beautiful Southern Oregon has some of the state’s best hiking, swim holes, and wineries, and the charming historic towns of Ashland, Medford, and Jacksonville.

    View

Trending Stories Northern CA

View all Stories
  1. Image that represents the story

    Tam Slam!

    This 8-mile (round-trip) hike is a pure classic, with redwoods, water-flows, and soaring views of the coastline. Oh yeah, and that ladder!

    View
  2. Image that represents the story

    Easiest Best Hike in the World

    Choose the easiest and most view-rewarding hike in Yosemite. Okay, we’ll go first: the combination of hiking to Sentinel Dome and Taft Point. Both of these lookouts are within a couple miles of each other on Glacier Point Road

    View
  3. Image that represents the story
    Sponsored

    Road Trip Ahead: Oregon Outback

    Remote open spaces, camping under true Dark Skies, hiking and biking trails galore, wildlife refuges, and hot springs! Plan your road trip to the Oregon Outback this summer.

    View
  4. Image that represents the story

    Nice Ring to It

    This tiny but mighty open space preserve on the Tiburon Peninsula can often exhibit a wide range of wildflowers late into the season, not to mention one of the most jaw-dropping views of the bay.

    View