Portion of Pacific Crest Trail may re-open in spring 2016

In July 2013, the Mountain Fire burned more than 26,000 acres in Riverside County, California with both the fire and the immediate rainstorm destroying miles of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. Almost 15 miles from Garner Valley near Paradise Corner to Saddle Junction had to be closed for safety reasons.

Much of this trail remains closed. For the past two springs, PCT hikers have had either to walk Highway 243 to Idyllwild or be fortunate enough to catch a ride to town.

Now, maintenance on the trail portion east of Garner Valley has started and the Forest Service expects it to be completed next spring, according to John Ladley, recreation officer for the San Jacinto Ranger District. However, the greater portion of the trails remain unrestored. Their repair will require several more years, he added.

The severe rain, not the fire, damaged the trails, according to the Forest Service report. “This area experienced two heavy rain events that created debris flows, rock fall, severe erosion, and mass wasting in the burn area and to the PCT … more than 90 percent of the trail within the burned area affected by heavy erosion and gullies, wash outs, rock fall, and structurally compromised retention walls and switch-back structures. Numerous down trees across the trail and hazard trees within striking distance of the trail were observed.”

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