Paved road all the way to trail head, easy access. Several trails to choose from, however the farther back you get the harder the trail is to find. We ended up cutting through a field to get on the bike trail. Reflection Pond is a SEASONAL pond. We made it all the way there just to find the pond was dry. Easy hike, would like to do it again in the spring after the rainy season.
This is a nice trail with an amazing view at the end as a payoff. The antennas definitely detract from the atmosphere on Mt. Pinos. More adventurous hikers can continue on the Vincent Tumamait trail to Sawmill Peak, which is a tougher hike, but has great views and a really large cairn. Our trip from the Alpine Parking lot to Sawmill and back came out to 7.6 miles and we did it in a little under 4 hours with a long lunch stop.
When I lived in Los Angeles, this was my favorite place to go to escape the city. Just a few hours drive north of LA, and you are at the trail head. There is an ample parking area at the trail head, with a rest room. The trail is clearly marked.
This is an alpine trail with forest and meadow views, and some very nice long distance views from the top. Be advised that this is an alpine trail, and can get cold fast. (When my Thai wife first came to LA, she wanted to see snow, so this is where I took her.) Check the weather conditions before going. It may be tee shirt weather in LA and snowing on Mount Pinos.
We did this trail yesterday, and it was my second time. I remembered it being really difficult. It was just as painful the second time as it was the first. This trip, we took the offshoot to Sawmill peak, the highest point in Kern County. I recommend taking this short detour.
My advice is don't take beginners on this hike, or maybe go Pinos to Sawmill and turn around. 14 miles is a long hike for a day, but if you're training for a big hike at around 8000 feet with lots of climbs and descents, this one's for you. Bring lots of water, as you won't find any on the trail.
I wouldn't call this a hike per say, I also wouldn't come out here during the summer as it is all yellow, brown, and dead. Unless you want to see the sun set with smog in the distance. During the spring or winter, early in the morning it is worth the drive. Otherwise you can go into the Kern Canyon for 45 min and find an actual trail to hike with scenery. That's just my opinion however.