From approximately mile 544.5-546.5 the trail is eroded in many places on the steep switchbacks, often to the point of the trail being almost nonexistent. The steep incline and unstable sand makes the tread very dangerous for hikers and probably impassable for equestrians.
The by-pass for the endangered species in Angeles Forest says equestrians should use this, but under no circumstance should any equestrian use any part of this. Even hikers should beware since there has been severe erosion on much of the Punchbowl trail portion before some of the heavy rains that have come since I inspected this. Have been working on getting volunteer support for this but none so far. Equestrian, especially any with Pack animals should continue on the trail till Eagles Roost and walk the Highway 2 till Cloudburst Summit. If done during the week in the morning not much traffic to worry about. Going down by Buckhorn to Littlerock creek has some tight areas for any packs so the extra mile or so highway is better from Buckhorn to Cloudburst. Hikers may want to consider the highway also to Buckhorn.
Fire has not yet reached either Landers Camp Spring or Kelso Valley Rd. I was section hiking along that section thru end of Wednesday (6/22) & shuttling some hikers around on Thursday (6/23). Most hikers are off the ridge line above Kelso Valley Rd due to the heat at midday combined with gale force winds at night (40-60 mph). Have to go to ground with shade at midday & cannot hike at night in gale force winds.
Dangerous Trail Conditions: I’m a triple crown trail hiker (trail name Starman) and have been long distance hiking for nearly 20 years. I have never seen conditions more dangerous than what I’m experiencing north of Sonora Pass, in particular north of Hwy 4. I’m at mile post 1059.2; Coordinates 38.6187, -119.8436 and can see a pole and ice axe part way down an ice chute. [Editors note: A PCT hiker was rescued from this chute on Sunday.] I don’t see anyone so they may have self evacuated. However, I want you to know this is a very dangerous section of trail at the moment. It’s so dangerous that I recommend no-one walks it. If you don’t have an ice axe or crampons, you’re going to hit the bottom fast.
There are three snow chutes in the area. I crossed the first two chutes, then chose not to continue across the third chute. I turned around, scrambled back, and am hiking back to Ebbetts Pass.
If you don’t have an ice axe or crampons, you can’t cross that chute. The melt is happening so fast, that the steps are melting out and turning icy.
[Editors note: Conditions change. We’ve heard from others who say this area isn’t that bad. Be careful and cautious. Turning around is always better than hurting yourself.]
The initial switchback section is great, including across the middle to the post piles. However, beyond that gets dicey. Initially, you will find overgrowth within the rocks past the post pile, making a couple areas tricky as it is difficult to see where the outer edge is trail, a bush, or air. That is the minor issue.
The greater problem is the handful of rock slides (shale) that have blown out the trail on the upper switchbacks (Southwest facing). The first one I encountered was just a few feet of damage, and clearing was relatively easy to find foot holds. The others were worse, where the trail was effectively replaced (blown out) by the slide. One I cleared a bit, the other I had to create a few foot holds, wedge the trekking pole and jump! Any slip and it is 1,000 to 1,500 feet before you hit anything as you slide down to probably your final hiking memory!!
If anyone is planning to train in this area I suggest avoiding this section and using the Jeep trails (Sierra Buttes Rd, Butcher Ranch Rd, to Sierra Buttes Trail) to reach the PCT at the summit (roughly 7 miles in).
Just got done hiking the first 150 miles of the PCT from Campo to Hwy 74. At mile 69.10, I came across a small landslide that blocked the trail. It was roughly several meters wide in a very steep part of a canyon. The trail was blocked by 2 huge boulders and tons of loose sediment. What lied above the trail (where the slide came from) looked extremely unstable. When approaching the slide the trail was literally cracked and slumping. As a backpacker, it was a bit sketchy to get over, but doable.. no way a horse could pass and is in an area that would be extremely difficult to turn around. It’s ALOT steeper then how it appears in the photos attached. It was located just north of the concrete Water tank at mile 68.4.
Sincerely, James Amato aka Business Time
These pictures where taken in Section E from mile 542 to 545. I have not seen the other areas. But, the pictures don’t do it justice. The area was hit hard. My concern is someone trying to hike through will get hurt/stuck. I positively could not hike through as-is.
I saw about 5 impassable spots in just about 2 miles.
The PCT is washed out in many places from Tylerhorse Canyon to over by Willow springs Road. The first picture below is about a 40 to 50 foot drop off, the angle of the picture does not properly represent the danger.
Other areas of southern California have been hit by similar erosion. The picture of recent damage is not clear at this time. Take a look at the Southern California tag on the trail conditions page for more information.
11:10 am on 5/6/15:
A wildfire is burning near mile 240 in the Fish Creek drainage. It appears to be 0.7 miles off the PCT. Check inciweb for the latest updates and use extreme caution.
- Equestrian issue
- Extreme hazard
- Snow conditions
- Trail Closure
- Trail maintenance issue
- Water conditions
- Central California
- Northern California
- Southern California