April 27, 2016 update: San Bernardino National Forest informed us today that the Lake Fire closure will remain in place at least through May. There is no ETA for opening the trail.
The Lake Fire burned approximately 32,000 acres, much of it in San Gorgonio Wilderness in June 2015. A much loved wilderness and a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail burned.
The Pacific Crest Trail remains closed for about 15.5 miles from the southern boundary of San Bernardino National Forest (approximately mile 236.5) 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.
The PCT is indeed open north of I-10, past Whitewater Preserve and all the way to mile 236.5 in Mission Creek. But once you get there, you hit the closure boundary. Only people interested in an out-and-back hike can utilize this section of the PCT. People wanting to go to Big Bear will want to stop at I-10 (or perhaps Whitewater Preserve if you have transportation arranged).
When will the Lake Fire closure reopen?
What a great question. Trust us, no one is more excited about re-opening the Pacific Crest Trail than PCTA. In our meetings and many conversations with our partners at San Bernardino National Forest, it’s clear that opening the PCT is a very high priority for all involved. Trail maintainers are ready to work as soon as the snow melts and the go-ahead is given. A big unknown is how this year’s El Nino affected winter storms will affect the burn area. How much snow will fall this winter? How quickly will it melt? How much new damage will winter storms bring? When will the snow melt off the access roads? While other sections of the trail in Southern California have been severely damaged by recent landslides, we’re crossing our fingers that the PCT in the burn area was not similarly damaged.
Once the trail maintainers head out this spring, the necessary work will be done and then the legal process of opening the trail (official signatures and the like) will occur.
All said, our hope and goal is to have the work done and trail legally opened by the time the bulk of northbound hikers reach the area. People planning to hike through in early season will probably reach the area before the trail is open. They will have to skip this section of trail. Unfortunately, we really don’t know what challenges we’ll face and how fast the work will go. Support our trail crews by donating or volunteering today.
As soon as we have more information, we’ll update this site.
Getting around the closure
We spent time researching a safe and legal way to walk around the closure and did not come up with anything. Since June, hikers have been taking a series of buses and taxi cabs between Interstate 10 and Big Bear. It’s a research project that you’ll need to do. Here’s some advice to help you in your research:
- Hiring a private car, finding a volunteer, a friend, or a family member will always be the most convenient way. Consider splitting a taxi with other hikers to take you the whole way (if you can find one).
- Public transit will take you from cities along I-10, through the San Bernardino MetroLink Station, and to Big Bear.
- You have two good bus options between I-10 and MetroLink:
- Mountain Transit will pick you up at the MetroLink and will take you to, and around, the Big Bear area.
Lake Fire resources
Current closure map