Along Highway 2, about 2 miles east of Wrightwood, you will find the Big Pines Ranger station. Another mile and a half beyond that there is a road that turns off to the south called Blue Ridge Road. It is easy to find. There is a large parking area on both sides of the road to catch the view as well as outhouse facilities. Blue Ridge Rd. skirts the eastern end of the Mountain High West ski resort. It is a mixture of gravel and disintegrating pavement, not to difficult o drive on. I was able to take a Lexus S300 on it that was old enough to vote without problem.
I suppose I could have started from the Pacific Reservoir a bit further back. I didn’t see a reservoir so I didn’t think of it. This is an easy trail, well maintained with no steep inclines. You start at 7500, climb to 8400 over a couple miles and then drop down to 8250 over the next mile and then return. For a little more spice, start at the Big Pines ranger station and take Blue Ridge Trail for another 2 miles and another thousand feet of gain.
About 3 miles up this road you come to Blue Ridge Campground, where I parked, It is right next to the bottom of the highest up ski lift.
Catch the PCT here and follow it along the edge of the Mt. Hi property. Soon you are crowded back over onto the road when you get to the Blue Ridge Reservoir. The resort keeps water in a couple of high elevation reservoirs for making snow.
Just past the reservoir you turn left and follow it around thru the gate. The PCT is straight ahead. The Reservoir is fenced off with No Trespassing signs warning that the area was
covered by video cameras. I believe them. I stopped to admire the view, take some pix and then went on my way. As I was disappearing off the trail, a resort truck came up the road and stopped at exactly the spot I had been standing.
This is a confusing spot on the PCT. Nobo is no problem. Sobo is a POA if you don’t
carefully observe the signs. The map is wrong. It shows the PCT following the road beyond the reservoir a couple hundred feet and then angling off. Then it shows a PCT that is almost a straight line that curves around the electronic site and continues on as a straight line until it intersects the road on the far side.
In reality, go thru the gate (not down the road) and follow the concrete drainage to its end. There will be a PCT trail sign straight ahead of you where you enter the forest. The trail does circle around the e-site but follows contours most of the way. Nothing straight
about it. The site (which I just had to detour to visit) is on Frost Mountain at 8480 feet. Given all the radiation warning signs, I wouldn’t want to camp right there.
The PCT then closely parallels the road for a bit, just below the top of the ridge. Through
this section, the ridge is more like a spine with sweeping views off to the northeast and southwest. Far below to the southeast is Prarie Fork Creek and when the gate is open there are a couple of campsites and trails down there. Every now and then you’ll see the top of a truck going by in the other direction and then a cloud of dust. Then the road and the trail parts ways as you skirt an unnamed peak of about 8440 and come out into an open area.
From the road. First, you see Pine Mountain Ridge. Beyond that is San Antonio Ridge.
It isn’t barren. It is densely populated with tiny little scrub oaks, mountain whitethorn and manzanita bushes. Something caused all the trees along this section of ridge to die off decades ago. On top of the ridge, the dead trees have all been cut down but a little downslope the old snags are still standing. A little beyond that, healthy trees. Didn’t see a lot of fire sign. Usually, if it had been a fire you’d see charcoal and there’s no reason why a fire would only have burned this one spot. There were a fair number of flowers on display but the lupine has yet to bloom up here.
The trail intersects with Guffy Camp. From here you can go on to Wright Mountain (8506 ft.) on an easy section of trail and continue to follow Blue Ridge to the Lyttle Creek area. It is also possible to drive on trails beyond here when the gate is open. Guffy camp has the most spectacular views of Wright. Mtn., Pine Mtn, and Pine Mtn. Ridge.
Last year I had driven all the way out to Guffy while exploring for interesting trails to walk. A severe thunderstorm came rolling thru. (What is it about me and mountain storms? I must attract them.) When you are on top of a mountain, you don’t see the storm go “over”. It is a massive wall of cloud ten thousand feet over you and a thousand feet down to the bottom of the valley and it is coming right at you. You are in the middle of the stormcloud.
Even inside the safety of my car, it was an interesting event. The car is bucking in the wind, despite parking next to “sheltering” shrubbery. Lightning and thunder crashing every few seconds almost simultaneously. Bean-sized hail pounding on the roof and windshield of the car and hoping nothing bigger comes along to damage the glass. It was complete sensory overload.
A backpacker, seeing a storm like that coming, would want to seek some kind of shelter immediately. Do not wait for it to start raining! Hiding under a picnic table or in the outhouse would be a good choice. Further afield? Maybe a hollow log or a burnt out tree trunk. Count on some misery.
I understand that John Muir used to get out and dance for joy during storms like this. I understand completely.
I am forced to make this my turn around since my sister-in-law had scheduled a dinner with some friends at 7 pm. My drive home would be 90 min. at least and then time to clean up and another half hour to the dinner location. My attendance had been deemed mandatory by all the elder females of the family. But Wright Mountain still beckons, as does the Prarie Fork Valley.