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Big Pines Nature Trail

On the eastern extremity of the San Gabriel Mountains, seemingly far from L.A.’s smoggy blanket of air, lies the Big Pines Recreation Area, designated as an all-season recreational area within Angeles National Forest. During the winter months, the area’s downhill-ski and snowboarding facilities draw crowds of snow-starved city-dwellers who would rather not drive an extra 200 miles or more to reach major-league ski resorts in the Sierra Nevada. In summer, several campgrounds, picnic areas, and interpretive trails, including the Big Pines Nature Trail profiled here, attract visitors escaping the lowland heat.

San Diegans can most easily navigate to Big Pines 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. The visitor center, open year round Wednesday through Sunday, offers printed leaflets, maps, interpretive brochures for some of the area trails, and reference materials such as a wildflower identification guide. Eleven campgrounds and four picnic grounds are located within a five-mile radius of the center. You’ll need a National Forest Adventure Pass to park here.

The short and easy, self-guiding Big Pines Nature Trail highlights many of the native trees and shrubs of the Big Pines area. The trail originates behind the visitor center and starts by winding up through a sparse grove of centuries-old Jeffrey pines. If you aren’t, as yet, very familiar with the flora of Southern California’s lofty mountains, this is a good trail to further your education.

Along the way, you’ll be introduced to the canyon live oak and black oak, four kinds of pines, and shrubs such as ceanothus (mountain lilac), manzanita, yerba santa, flannel bush, service berry, and mountain mahogany. Interpretive plaques cover some of the uses of these native plants by the Gabrielino, Serrano, and Cahuilla Indians.

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.

Big Pines Nature Trail

Enjoy the sweet scent of summer-warmed pine bark on a short nature trail near Wrightwood.

Distance from downtown San Diego: 145 miles

Hiking length: 0.5 mile

Difficulty: Easy

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On the eastern extremity of the San Gabriel Mountains, seemingly far from L.A.’s smoggy blanket of air, lies the Big Pines Recreation Area, designated as an all-season recreational area within Angeles National Forest. During the winter months, the area’s downhill-ski and snowboarding facilities draw crowds of snow-starved city-dwellers who would rather not drive an extra 200 miles or more to reach major-league ski resorts in the Sierra Nevada. In summer, several campgrounds, picnic areas, and interpretive trails, including the Big Pines Nature Trail profiled here, attract visitors escaping the lowland heat.

San Diegans can most easily navigate to Big Pines 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. The visitor center, open year round Wednesday through Sunday, offers printed leaflets, maps, interpretive brochures for some of the area trails, and reference materials such as a wildflower identification guide. Eleven campgrounds and four picnic grounds are located within a five-mile radius of the center. You’ll need a National Forest Adventure Pass to park here.

The short and easy, self-guiding Big Pines Nature Trail highlights many of the native trees and shrubs of the Big Pines area. The trail originates behind the visitor center and starts by winding up through a sparse grove of centuries-old Jeffrey pines. If you aren’t, as yet, very familiar with the flora of Southern California’s lofty mountains, this is a good trail to further your education.

Along the way, you’ll be introduced to the canyon live oak and black oak, four kinds of pines, and shrubs such as ceanothus (mountain lilac), manzanita, yerba santa, flannel bush, service berry, and mountain mahogany. Interpretive plaques cover some of the uses of these native plants by the Gabrielino, Serrano, and Cahuilla Indians.

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.

Big Pines Nature Trail

Enjoy the sweet scent of summer-warmed pine bark on a short nature trail near Wrightwood.

Distance from downtown San Diego: 145 miles

Hiking length: 0.5 mile

Difficulty: Easy

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Comments
1

you have to be sure that the road from Los Angeles to big pines is not closed. ever since the fires in Azusa, the road is closed before Big Pines. You have to drive around though the 138.. It has been closed fro years now. I didnt read the signs posted at the entrance to the 2 highway and drove right into a closed gate. Be sure to research before you travel all the way to a gate..

Derek

July 9, 2008

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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