Text and photography copyright 2011 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. The author does not take any responsibility for injuries sustained during hikes or walks on the routes described here. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.
Lightning Ridge Nature Trail
- Location: Angeles National Forest near Big Pines. From the 15 freeway, take the Highway 138 exit and head west for 8.6 miles. Turn left on highway 2 (Angeles Crest) and go 10.6 miles to the Pacific Crest Trail turnout and park in the lot. A National Forest Service adventure pass ($5 for a day or $30 for the year) is required to park here. Click here to purchase.
- Agency: Angeles National Forest, Santa Clara and Mojave Rivers Ranger District
- Distance: 0.8 miles
- Elevation gain: 250 feet
- Suggested time: 30 minutes
- Difficulty rating: G
- Best season: April-November
- USGS topo map: “Mt. San Antonio”
- Recommended guidebook: Afoot & Afield Los Angeles County
- More information: here
- Rating: 6
This is a short but thoroughly enjoyable loop hike on the Angeles Crest Highway near Big Pines. Highlights include great views of Mt. Baldy, Mt. Baden-Powell and the high desert.
From the parking area, head northwest on the Pacific Crest Trail. Almost immediately, take a right on the nature trail and begin the loop. You pass through a forest of pines and black oaks, getting glimpses of the desert far below. The trail ascends a staircase, makes a few switchbacks and rejoins the Pacific Crest Trail. Here, you can enjoy a great view of Mt. Baden-Powell and the deep gorge of the San Gabriel River’s east fork from a bench.
When you’re done taking it all in, head left and take the Pacific Crest Trail back down to the parking lot. Since the hike is so short, consider checking out some other trails in the area, such as Big Horn Mine, Mormon Rocks or Blue Ridge – to name a few.