Kern County

Date reviewed - 10/07

Reviewed by: LionZoo

Fun . . . . . . . . 5
Difficulty . . . . .High
Traffic . . . . . . None
Driveways . . . .Light
Condition . . . . Fair
Length . . . . . .35 miles

About 80 miles north of Los Angeles metro, Cerro Noroeste is a spectacular drive from the peaks of the Los Padres National Forest into the California Central Valley. In my opinion, Cerro Noroeste drives best as a downhill going in the northwest direction. Starting from 6,000 feet above the valley floor, the pine trees that surround you in the higher elevations will give way to grass most likely burnt golden as you lose elevation during the drive. The road offers good visibility and a great view, but is rough in places.

From Frazier Park, the road starts as Cuddy Valley Rd., and will pass Mt. Pinos. It's advisable to keep your speed down here especially as there seems to be quite a bit of law enforcement presence in the area. From there, the road will fork right onto Mil Potrero Highway and plunge downward. This section is quite fun with some tighter turns in what feels like a pine forest. The road is not extremely challenging and traffic permitting, it's possible to have some real fun without dipping into insane speeds. However, after awhile houses will appear on the side of the road and soon you will be into the small mountain community of Pine Mountain and in this section there is some law enforcement. Once you pass the town though, the LEOs disappear, but you will soon pass what looks like a fire engine depot. Only after does the road become clear enough for the serious fun to begin.

And how fun it is! Cerro Noroeste is fast. Driven at a spirited pace, 3rd and 4th gear will be the ones mostly used and depending on your gear ratios 5th will also be useful. Cerro Noroeste is tighter higher up, but as it gets close to the valley floor the road starts to pick up banking in the corners which allows you to really attack. Speeds here pick up and the corners can generate quite a bit of sustained g forces. Many of the corners are several seconds long which can put a bit of stress on your neck. Cerro Noroeste is not technical, but it is challenging in that barreling into the corners requires bravery; you can get yourself into quite a bit of trouble at the cornering speeds that Cerro Noroeste allows. In addition, the road surface can upset vehicles that are set up stiffly. Past the park, there is also almost no traffic and anything incoming should be able to be spotted from far away which is great for some high speed fun.

Cerro Noroeste is much better in the downhill direction which is just as well as it forms a great chain with Highway 33 and Lockwood Valley. This combination avoids the straight section of 33 and instead offers a great afternoon's worth of some of the best, most challenging canyon roads in Southern California.

- Back to Region

Color: Cerro / Mil / Cuddy
Red: Hwy. 33
Blue: Lockwood Valley Rd.
Purple: Soda Valley (dirt)
Cyan: Various local roads
Orange: Quatal Canyon Rd. (dirt)
White: Klipstein Canyon Rd. (dirt?)
Grey: Elkhorn Rd. (dirt?)

Over the river and through the woods . . . wherever you are going this is a great way to get there.
Running up and over the ridge.