Post-Flash Flood trail conditions: Agua Dulce to NW of Lake Hughes

By: Chris Quinn
November 2nd, 2015

I hiked the 40 miles from Agua Dulce to where the PCT tread resumes NW of Lake Hughes right after the Flash Flood (which occurred 15 Oct 15). Here’s the summary:

Section Agua Dulce to the Bouquet Reservoir Canyon Rd: Not bad at all. What little damage exists is easily jumped over or walked around. Though there is some mild drainage ruts across the trail, this section should NOT be your maintenance emphasis before the 2016 Thru-hikers start.

Section San Francisquito Rd to PCT Mile 505. The majority of this is a “road hike” due to the Powerhouse Fire detour. While the Elizabeth/Lake Hughes road was initially closed while they cleared mud that was over 5 feet deep in places, they let me walk through. The hike up Road 7N23 to join the trail was in good (and driveable) shape, and the trail NW-bound from there was really nice. Minimal impact on trail tread.

HOWEVER, the section in the middle of these two (from Bouquet Canyon to San Francisquito Rd) has got some SERIOUS issues. It’s OK until you get a mile south of that pair of high-tension power lines (about 2 miles north of Bouquet Canyon Rd). Here, the 4-foot wide tread is high on both sides, thus forcing the floodwaters down the middle of the tread. In places, the trenching is 12-18 inches deep. This continues on/off until reaching /Road 6N09. Northbound from there, the problem switches to an almost complete covering of the trail tread by uphill dirt/silt. The tread is completely filled. Since this section is 99% left (dowhhill) sloped, You are now forced to walk on a 10-degree left-sloped trail “tread”. If your shoes haven’t been giving you blisters yet, they most likely will — because the left sides are always slanted below the right. The majority (60%) of the retaining walls on the left (downhill) side of the trail are still in place, but most are damaged. Another 20% are buckled, and barely holding the trail in place. The other 20% are visible but given way, or entirely washed away. Some good news? The nice wide wood footbridge a mile NW of 6N09 is completely intact — AND the large rocks accompanied by the BSA Troop 415 Post a mile before San Francisquito Rd are still intact (even though the huge hornet nests in the rocks above there are disturbed — and the hornet swarms can be heard (and seen) from 10 yds away)! If there’s ANY way to work on this section of trail before the 2016 season starts, I would strongly encourage it.

Powerhouse Fire Closure

October 30th, 2015

The PCT is closed from mile 478.2 at San Francisquito Canyon Rd. north to approximately mile 492 (the center line of the southeast half of Section 19, Township 7 North, Range 15 West, San Bernardino Base and Meridian).  This is an expansion of the previous Powerhouse Fire Closure.  This expansion is due to the recent rains that have damaged the trail that was previously open north of San Francisquito Canyon Rd.

Please stay out of this closure area.  It is critical that our volunteers are able to access, survey, plan and rebuild this stretch of trail.  They are not able to complete their work with people using the trail.

PCT users have options for getting around the closure. With northbound travel in mind:

  1. Take the Halfmile detour.
  2. Take San Francisco Canyon Road north to Elizabeth Lake Road, then leave Elizabeth Lake Road at the Junction of 7N23 and take that road to its intersection with the PCT.  Hikers can then resume their hike as normal on the PCT.  Due to law enforcement activity going on in the area near Bear Camp we do not recommend camping nor traveling at night in the stretch of trail north of Sawmill Campground to the Angeles Forest Boundary (just north of Horse Camp). View a google map of this detour here.


Flashfloods and trail erosion HWY 58 South to the Aqueduct

By: Jim R.
October 20th, 2015

Pete and I met two South Bounders this weekend who indicated pretty severe damage  Hwy 58 South to Willow Springs Road with damage somewhat less severe continuing to the Aqueduct.  They showed pictures of gullies that appeared to be 2 feet deep and slides covering large portions of the trail.  They indicated the switch backs are gone.  I plan to go take a look for myself soon.

The good news is that I scouted from mile 505 to 518 Friday and found no significant erosion damage from the recent storm even though Lake Hughes Road a short distance away remains closed.  The bad news is that there was a large slide in Green Valley on Francisquito.  This indicates the area of the fire closure  between Lake Hughes Road and Francisquito is likely damaged.

Lake Fire closure south of Big Bear, Calif.

July 16th, 2015

The Lake Fire was reported just before 4:00 pm on June 17, 2015. It has burned approximately 32,000 acres, much of it in San Gorgonio Wilderness. The Pacific Crest Trail burned as well.

The Pacific Crest Trail is closed for about 17.5 miles from the southern boundary of San Bernardino National Forest (approximately mile 234.5) to Onyx Summit (mile 252). Details about the rest of the closed areas can be seen on the map below and in the closure order.

At this time, there is no recommended alternate route for walking around the closure.

Lake Fire resources

Current closure map

Lake Fire closure map published 7/16/15.

Lake Fire closure map published 7/16/15. Download a PDF version here.

Old maps

MODIS layer of Lake Fire and Pacific Crest Trail 6.25.15 at 1:41 PM.

MODIS layer of Lake Fire and Pacific Crest Trail 6.25.15 at 1:41 PM.

Lake Fire and Pacific Crest Trail IR image from 6/23/15 at 2:19 AM

Lake Fire and Pacific Crest Trail IR image from 6/23/15 at 2:19 AM

MODIS layer of Lake Fire and Pacific Crest Trail 6.22.15 at 10:23 AM.

MODIS layer of Lake Fire and Pacific Crest Trail 6.22.15 at 10:23 AM.

MODIS layer of Lake Fire and Pacific Crest Trail 6.19.15 at 8:41 am.

MODIS layer of Lake Fire and Pacific Crest Trail 6.19.15 at 8:41 am.

Lake Fire and Pacific Crest Trail 6.18.15 16.47.00

MODIS layer of Lake Fire and Pacific Crest Trail 6.18.15 at 4:47 pm

MODIS layer of Lake Fire and Pacific Crest Trail 6.18.15 at 12:16 pm

MODIS layer of Lake Fire and Pacific Crest Trail 6.18.15 at 12:16 pm

Lake Fire and Pacific Crest Trail 6.18.15 at 9:31am

MODIS layer of Lake Fire and Pacific Crest Trail 6.18.15 at 9:31am

Bird Spring Canyon Road (mile 631) inaccessible to vehicle traffic

By: Scott Matheson
June 16th, 2015

On 6/13/15 a localized thunderstorm dumped 1.6 inches of rain on Bird Spring Pass (mile 631) in one hour, cutting the road two miles from its intersection with paved Kelso Valley Road. There may be more damage to the road higher up its approach to the PCT, but either way it’s impassible to vehicle traffic until repaired. I haven’t checked the approach from the east, but that may be washed out as well, and is in any case sandy enough 4 wheel drive is recommended.



Yellow Jacket Spring on the Pacific Crest Trail

By: Michael L.
May 29th, 2015

In 2014, we walked northbound along the Pacific Crest Trail until there was a sign that said ‘Yellow Jacket Spring’ and your only choice is left, which was down, down, down the trail. It’s this ragged trail (.7 miles) down and there is a clear path for about .5 miles and then it gets kind of lost. You just keep going down until you hit the valley floor. It gets difficult at this point and there is a rough path to the left and nothing really to the right. It’s obvious that your goal is left. However you keep searching but there is no true water. What you need to do is travel a bit left (south) and find the most damp ground. From there you can dig and seep water. We were able to spend our time and gather about four liters each (sucked) and be on our marry way. Remember though, .7 each way. The way back up I wanted to throw my life into the bushes.

Yellow Jacket Spring on the Pacific Crest Trail.

Yellow Jacket Spring on the Pacific Crest Trail.

Silverwood to Interstate 15.

By: Jim and Cyndi Johnson
May 27th, 2015

Based on a tree report for this section my wife and I took our horses to a point about 5 miles from the Silverwood trail head. We removed several trees that were across the trail but this is a steep section and there are many dead oaks on the slope. It is advisable for equestrians to carry a saw with them if possible due to these trees that will eventually slip across the trail. Also, the tread is somewhat fragile in this area so equestrians should stay to the up hill side and avoid riding near the edge.