Picture yourself hitting the trail. Where will you go? The Pacific Crest Trail should be in your sights. From Mexico to Canada, the 2,650-mile PCT, one of 11 National Scenic Trails, links together the great mountains of the West through California, Oregon and Washington.
The PCT crosses the length of the San Bernardino National Forest, winding from the northern side of the San Gorgonio Wilderness, past Big Bear and Silverwood Lake, to near Mount Baldy. More than 125 miles of the PCT fall within the forest boundaries.
Pioneered in the 1930’s and declared complete in 1993, the trail is rich in history and passes by many of the region’s historic sites, from gold mines to Native American settlements. When Congress established the PCT as one of two founding National Scenic Trails in 1968, it recognized the trail as unique and important for its scenic, cultural and historic value. If anything, the trail becomes more vibrant and alive every year. You might assume that the PCT crosses nothing but desert by virtue of being in southern California. This is rarely the case. In fact, the trail passes through a wide variety of areas. You’ll enjoy everything from low desert cacti and famous Joshua Trees to grasslands and pine forests.
Hitting the Trail
Roads cross the trail throughout the area and there are many trailheads from which to start. Pick one and pack some water. You’ll experience a variety of terrain and ecosystems. The PCT is open to hikers and equestrians. Permits are required for day and overnight trips in designated Wilderness Areas. If you are not in Wilderness, you are welcome to hike camp and ride with only a California Fire Permit.
The trail is generally well built and signed. Plan on running your own car shuttles, or returning to your car the same way you came. Visit pcta.org for up-to-date information on trail conditions and water availability.
Van Dusen Canyon Road: Part way between Big Bear City and Big Bear Lake, turn north off of highway 18 at signed Van Dusen Canyon Road. Drive 2.8 miles to the PCT crossing (signed). Either direction makes for a nice trip.
Volunteers Make the PCT
Are you looking for a rewarding, fun and active adventure? Teams of volunteers are the backbone of the PCT. Whenever the trail is snow-free, volunteer crews hit the trail for day and overnight trips. Service trips are free and require no previous experience. From learning the fundamentals of trail design to becoming certified in saw work, joining a trail crew is a rich and rewarding experience. The Pacific Crest Trail Association organizes and trains people like you to maintain the trail. Contact the association at email@example.com or (916) 285-1838 for information.