“A wide, dirt fireroad that classically, and mercilessly, winds up the sides of mountains.”
— David Gregg
Once the pavement ends and the dirt starts there is no let up. From one end of this line on the map to the other, there are just a handful of flat spots as large as a house, but not larger. Although holding to the 7% average grade that the previous three miles offered, this portion of the trail "feels" steeper because the sun is shining and the dirt takes a little more out of you. This section also attracts motor traffic (jeeps, dirt bikes, 4-wheelers) so keep sharp and follow trail rules.
Along the way look for trail turns that open up to vistas that will take your breath. Take note of the large amount of manzanita tree that grown on the slopes. The wood of this tree is unmistakable with it's almost maroon/red color, and endlessly twisting branches, but be careful not to destroy it as some manzanita species are the some of the rarest trees on Earth. It's also along the top part of this stretch that alpine forest begins to manifest.
Views of Santiago peak, with it's array of antennae towers, and Modjeska peak (together creating "Saddleback Mountain") can be seen for most of the approach to the top and give you an idea of just how far you still have to go.
After a tight left-hand switchback you'll reach a confluence of trails, a large clearing surrounded by low, rusted metal-tube fencing. This is called four corners and is the beginning and end of other trails to come.