Endangered Species Detour: Tread is Sliding

April 4th, 2014
By: Thomas Meissner

On March 29, 2014, four of us hiked part of the endangered species detour from Islip Saddle – Devils Punchbowl via South Fork Trail – High Desert NRT, which has now become the official [editor: alternate] PCT route.

Though the new route is very scenic, the tread is faint and has disappeared over wide sections of the South Fork Trail between Islip Saddle and South Fork CG.

The trail, not particularly well designed as it is crossing steep exposed slopes without vegetation has become dangerous in several places with the trail sliding above steep dropoffs. It would need serious stabilization and with more rain, it is likely getting worse. This new route is definitely substandard for the PCT and completely impassable for stock.

The section along the High Desert NRT from South Fork Camp to Devils Punchbowl is in better shape. However, there is one short washed out section near the saddle between South Fork CG and Devils Chair.

I would advise long distance hikers to stay on the old PCT from Islip Saddle to Eagles Roost and then walk a couple miles along Hwy 2 to reconnect to the PCT via the Burkhart Trail rather than taking this long, tedious and risky detour.