89-2 Blue Ridge Road to Mtn. High West via Ski Lift Access Road

Participant: Jane Strong
Date: 10 August 1999

Overview: A great wildflower and wildlife walk for families wanting to escape the heat and retreat to the forest, this easy trail is suitable for strollers. The hike also gives great views of the "back" side of the High Country and the desert to the north.

Directions: From SR2, the Angeles Crest Highway, turn south on Blue Ridge Road, across the street from the PCT parking lot at Lightning Ridge, 1.8 miles west of Big Pines. Go to the wide spot where three roads meet. An acute-angled left turn goes to the microwave towers, a right-angled left turn goes to the gated ski lift access road, an obtuse-angled left turn is the PCT, and straight ahead goes to the campgrounds. Park. Choose the gated road leading down and east.

Distance: Round trip is 2.28 miles. The trail ends at the top of the ski run called Easy Street. A car shuttle is possible.

Elevation Change: ~350 feet, the intersection with Blue Ridge Road is ~7,400' and Easy Street at Mtn. High West is ~7,050'.

Season: Probably May to November, from snow melt to snow fall. I don't know if the roads are plowed, though, they may well be, since this is the access road to the ski lifts which operate during the winter. The trail is shaded by Jeffrey pine, white fir and the deciduous black oak. In the fall, the black oak leaves turns gold, and in the spring, the new growth is pink.

Weather: 70 ° F at 4:00 pm, definitely chilly when the wind was blowing. I would advise bringing wind breakers for small children or those sensitive to cold.

Trail condition: Excellent, a wide, level dirt road with no steep drop offs.

In bloom now:
On approach: woolstar, blazing star, golden eardrops, California fuchsia
On the trail: poodle dog bush, prickly poppy, sulfur flower, aster, scarlet penstemon, nude buckwheat, snowberry, gayophytum (happy plant), dusky maiden, sidalcea, monardella, linanthus, others unidentified among them, a white-flowered mustard-type, a yellow-flowered composite like cat's-ear and a scraggly plant with a beaked greenish flower highly favored by the bees
In bud: Great Basin sagebrush, rabbit brush, more buckwheats
Past bloom: lupines, lotuses, gilia, granite gilia, snowbush, wallflower, phacelia, Grinnell's penstemon

Bugs: Not a gnat, not a fly, not a mosquito seen by me. However, another hiker with an infant in a stroller reported bad mosquitoes at the ski lifts.

In person: lizard, chipmunk, gray squirrel, Steller's jay, raven, junco, chickadee, acorn woodpecker, sapsucker. Most of the birds are found around a small pool which is almost hidden by currant bushes.
Tracks: mule deer, bobcat, opossum, mountain bike, 3-wheel stroller, big cat (a road maintenance/construction vehicle). The animal tracks are all on the outside edge of the road.

Side Trips: 1) Follow the road up to the microwave towers for views in all directions and 2) go to the vista spot, appropriately named Inspiration Point, across the street from the PCT parking lot at Lightning Ridge. The sign, which names the peaks and gulches seen down the East Fork, is new at this writing (11 Aug 99) and not defaced. Santa Catalina Island is visible. Very worthwhile.

See also:
Map and Profile

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Copyright © 1999-2003 by Jane Strong.
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Last update: 09 September 1999 (a link updated 7 April 2003)