Snow Conditions

Massive snow melt, runoff in Washington Section H, Indian Heaven Wilderness

By: Philip Kollas
July 12th, 2021

The last full week of June 2021, the trail through Indian Heaven Wilderness, approx. mile 2200 northward, was in many places covered with snow of up to about 3′ depth–and what was not snow covered was often gushing with runoff water. Some areas were huge lakes. Detouring off-trail, including through thick brush, was often necessary. This year’s heavy winter snowfall had, after several days of very warm weather, been turning to melt, rushing water, and mud.

The snow-covered areas did not require snowshoes, at least not in the shade and early in the day. The main problems were the lake-covered trail and the bushwacking off-trail.

One solo thru-hiker coming from the north reported that a stream crossing (not named) was so dangerous that she would not have done this section solo if she had known how bad it was going to be. She said she was not sure she would get across the stream.

Observations near Escondido Ridge/Lemah Meadow

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By: Jason Horstman
July 7th, 2021

Hi, I was hiking on the PCT on 7/4 & 7/5 wanted to report a few observations. I hopped onto the PCT from the Waptus Burn trail near Escondido Lake and wanted to report snow covering the entire trail near Escondido Ridge/tarns (GPS was necessary to locate the trail). Also, I noticed a couple things on the section above Lemah Meadows – several downed trees were covering the trail (some easy to hop over, some more difficult); also a small crack was running parallel with the trail for several switchbacks above 4000 ft (could pose a serious issue with significant rainfall).

rd 23 to white pass

By: Mark B
July 2nd, 2021

Trail report, rd 23 to white pass: Trail disappears between pct high point junctions with old snowy alternate. Very dangerous steep loose rock. Still some steep snow chutes. Old snowy alt also hard to follow. Turned back and hiked to packwood. Adams creek high thigh and strong crossing early morn. Patchy snow throughout trip, no serious navigation problems. Mosquitos very bad sec between adams and before goat rocks ascent.

Safety: snow, rock debris, significant risk avalanche and landslide in the heat

By: Ravensong
June 29th, 2021

Hikers are reporting exceptionally dangerous conditions between Harts Pass and the border. In particular between Rock and Woody Pass and descending Devils staircase to Hopkins Lake. PCTer today at Ravensongs Roost reported rock debris falling down the slopes and very dangerous snow conditions with cornice at Rock Pass. The alternate route he and others have used and describe as the safest, does have blow downs, but its feasible. It starts at the Robinson Creek trailhead by Mazama, goes up to Robinson Pass, on down past a forest service cabin in Pasayten River valley, to join the PNT, and on up west along the PNT to Frosty Pass and rejoinS the PCT at Castle Pass to touch the border.
PCTer today said south of Harts Pass was OK with an ice ax, provided you know how to use it well.

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.