Tall, aromatic pines and firs and thin air (elevation averages 7500 feet) lend a High-Sierra feel to the north slope of Blue Ridge, which lies on a high divide of the San Gabriel Mountains near the resort community of Wrightwood. The Blue Ridge Trail climbs about 1000 feet up this slope to meet the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) just outside Blue Ridge Campground. From there you can climb a bit farther for a panoramic view of mounts San Antonio, Baden-Powell, and other "giants" on the roofline of the Angeles National Forest.
San Diegans can most easily navigate to Wrightwood by way of Interstate 15, Highway 138, and Highway 2 (Angeles Crest Highway). Just continue through Wrightwood another five miles on Angeles Crest Highway to reach Big Pines. There you'll find an Angeles National Forest ranger station and visitor center. You'll need a National Forest Adventure Pass to park here.
The Blue Ridge Trail starts near the restrooms opposite the visitor center. About half-way up the slope (1.0 mile), the trail crosses an old road bed and continues climbing. To the north, on Table Mountain, you'll probably spot the white domes of the Table Mountain and Smithsonian observatories. After several switchbacks, you meet the Blue Ridge road at Blue Ridge Campground. The PCT swings around the far side of the campground; you can join it by walking southeast about 0.1 mile on the road. Head southeast on the PCT, uphill along a ski run for another one-quarter mile. Then veer right to the top of a sage-covered rise dotted this time of year with paintbrush and wallflower blossoms. There you'll have a panoramic view of Mount San Antonio's north slope -- streaked with snow and often wreathed in cottony clouds.
You've come 2.3 miles from the visitor center. When it's time to go back, return the way you came, or, if anyone has driven out to Blue Ridge Campground to pick you up, take advantage of the free ride.
This article contains information about a publicly owned recreation or wilderness area. Trails and pathways are not necessarily marked. Conditions can change rapidly. Hikers should be properly equipped and have safety and navigational skills. The Reader and Jerry Schad assume no responsibility for any adverse experience.