Snow Conditions

Large Snow Drifts at Bartle Gap Summit

By: LostonPCT
April 20th, 2021

Attempted an early section hike from Lake Briton to Lake McCloud last week (April 14-16, 2021). The PCT was obscured by snow drifts up to 12~15 feet on summit. Treacherous icy conditions in early morning. Decided to exit via Summit Lake Rd to Hwy 89. Fortunately a logging bulldozer recently cleared the road which made the exit feasible. I expect that the snow will persist for an additional 4-6 weeks, depending on weather. Summit Lake Rd is closed for non-authorized motor vehicles.

Steep and dangerous snow on San Jacinto

By: Jack Haskel - PCTA Trail Information Manager
March 23rd, 2021

There is steep, dangerous snow along the PCT on Mount San Jacinto, and in the mountains further north all the way to Canada.

If you don’t have pervious steep snow experience, please seriously consider whether it’s a good idea for you to hike here snow is on the ground. Hikers in the past have died, and more have been seriously injured. There are many close calls on the trail in the area every year before the snow melts.

Jon King’s San Jacinto Trail Report is a great resource.

Please note that the PCT is closed north of Idyllwild due to the Snow Fire.

In 2020, Trevor Laher died after falling on snow during his thru-hike. Please read his father’s call for safety.

The specific snow and ice conditions change frequently. And people’s skill levels, equipment, fitness and risk tolerance also varies. Just because someone else did it, doesn’t mean you’ll be fine. Some PCT hikers are skilled mountaineers, some are beginner wilderness travelers.

Satellite image captured March 21, 2021.

Think conservatively and make sure you will be hiking in conditions comfortable for you.

Excerpt from our “When to hike the PCT” page:

“Don’t be fooled by “the desert.” The PCT often crosses high, seasonally snow-covered mountains in Southern California. You’ll pass ski resorts. Between each mountain range, the trail drops to low elevations and is usually snow-free. Higher elevations typically become snow-covered in the winter, possibly by late October or November, but sometimes not until January. Snow can remain an obstacle into early May, and new snow has been known to fall on Memorial Day weekend. Winter snow is usually deepest in the San Jacinto mountains above Idyllwild (widely, but especially Apache Peak, Antsell Rock, and Fuller Ridge), the San Bernardino mountains above Big Bear (especially south of Coon Creek Jumpoff), and the San Gabriel mountains along the Angeles Crest Highway near Wrightwood (especially on Mount Baden-Powell). At the southern end, Mount Laguna above San Diego gets periodic winter snow. On the northern end, the Piute Mountains between Tehachapi and Walker Pass can regularly be snow covered.”

Trees across trail Goat Rocks

By: Curtis
July 28th, 2020

July 20-23, 2020 I hiked from Walupt Lake Trail #101 PCT Mile 2262 NOBO to just south of Old Snowy alt. 2274
Trees across trail:
(PCT miles per Halfmile’s awesome app)
Between 10″ and 24″ dia

Other than that, the trail is in decent shape for this early in the season. No washouts. Some sketchy tread, but that’s to be expected this early. Snow fields are still pretty substantial, and the trail is a little hard to find in spots without GPS. If you’re not careful, or it’s iced over, it could be dangerous without proper equipment. Not cold or windy at 7000′ 🙂
Happy trails!

PCT “E” on July 6th 2020

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By: Kai Chotard
July 17th, 2020

Date specific content. First half had about 10% snow on trail then second half had about 90% snow on trail. Though snow was slowly melting (previous days tracks no longer available as a reference), it still remained 20+ miles of hiking in the snow. Streams were running nicely (abundance of places to fill up on water), some snow bridge crossings. Some fallen trees/debris on trail. Flowers blooming, lush green meadows. Mosquitoes below approx 6000ft, very few above.

Serious snow travel safety concerns in mountains of Southern California

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By: Jack
April 3rd, 2019

High elevations of Southern California continue to hold snow. In places, it’s steep and dangerous. Don’t underestimate the risk, travel with snow safety skills and equipment and consider turning around.

Some notable problem areas include, but are not limited to:

  • San Jacinto Mountains (especially Apache Peak and Fuller Ridge)
  • San Bernadino Mountains (between Mission Creek and Big Bear)
  • San Gabriels Mountains (especially Mount Baden Powell and the trail north of there)

Major damage at Whitewater and Mission Creeks

By: Paul Alexander & Olivia Nolan from Ireland
April 3rd, 2019

We are hiking the PCT and are at mile 250 having come through Whitewater and Mission Creek. The trail through Mission creek is missing in parts. There are huge boulders to cross on the wide flood-damaged river beds and many large pines down crossing the paths heading up out of Mission Creek to the Big Bear mountains. It’s challenging…. Big Bear is snow covered and without ice axe and spikes ( minimum ) is again very treacherous!

Dangerous conditions north of Sonora Pass

By: frank gilliland
June 21st, 2016

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.]

Raymond Peak