“Ride to the top of Pilots Peak to get a 360 view of Yosemite and Stanislaus National Forest.
— Tom Wilson
Ride along forest service roads where you'll gain 2200 feet in elevation to get to the top of Pilots Peak. Once you gain the ridge, you'll be able to get great views of the surrounding area. Pilots Peak is the largest peak outside of Yosemite on the Highway 120 Corridor.
Stop at rainbow pools on your way back down the hill for a refreshing swim!
Head up highway 120 and take a right on Hardin flat road. Keep going straight past Yosemite Lakes campground. Once you get into a dirt road, Follow FS 1S12 for a few miles. You can park your car along this road and get off whenever you like.
Start ascending up forest service roads. There are multiple ways to get to the top, but we found that 1S12 is the easiest ascent and you can take multiple different trails downhill which are steeper and have much sharper turns. 1S12 will take you to the top of the ridge, from here take a right on 2S01 which turns into a dirt road that will bring you to the peak.
At the peak, there is a look out tower that you can go to the top of if there is a worker there. We met a nice lady who let us sign the guest book and pointed out all the different mountain ranges surrounding us. Here you'll get a 360 view of Yosemite, Highway 108, Highway 120 and Highway 140 areas all the way back to Groveland, CA.
There is a vast network of forest service roads that you can choose to go down from. We decided to go down 2S25 to 2S64 which brought us back to 1S12 and our car. All the road intersections are nicely marked. Use the MTB Project mobile app!
Groveland Ranger District, 6,004' elevation. Forest maps show a lookout on Pilot Peak as early as 1909. The current tower was erected in 1963, replacing earlier versions. Pilot Peak is staffed every fire season, as it commands a view across most of the Groveland District, into Yosemite National Park and the Sierra National Forest.
Pilot Peak Fire Lookout