Acorn Trail (Wrightwood)
- Location: Wrightwood, at the corner of Acorn Drive and Quail Road. From I-15, take the Highway 138 exit and head west for 8.6 miles. Turn left on the Angeles Crest Highway (highway 2) and go 5.4 miles into the town of Wrightwood. Turn left on Spruce St. and go 0.3 miles to Oriole Rd. Turn right and go 0.1 miles to Acorn Drive. Turn left and follow Acorn Drive 0.3 miles and park on the right side of the road in a small dirt turnout between Finch Road and Quail Road. Though there is no indication that a National Forest Service Adventure Pass is required for parking, if you have one, you might want to display it. If ou want to purchase one ($5 per day or $30 for the year) click here.
- Agency: Angeles National Forest (Santa Clara/Mojave Rivers Ranger District)
- Distance: 5.2 miles (from the corner of Acorn and Quail)
- Elevation gain: 2,000 feet (from the corner of Acorn and Quail)
- Suggested time: 3 hours
- Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (Elevation gain, steepness, altitude)
- Best season: April – November
- USGS topo map: “Mt. San Antonio”
- Recommended gear: sunblock; sun hat; hiking poles
- More information: Here; discussion board about the trail here; video of the trail here; Everytrail report here
- Rating: 8
The Acorn Trail links a private residential community in Wrightwood with the Pacific Crest Trail. The scenery–including stately pines, tall mountain slopes and views of the high desert–is similar to that of the nearby Blue Ridge Trail, although this one is longer, steeper and overall more difficult. The actual trail is less than two miles, but due to its location at the end of a private road, hikers must tack on an extra 0.8 miles in each direction if they want to do it “by the book.” Stories abound of hikers being harassed by landowners; while there is no guarantee that this won’t happen, as with other hikes in or around private land, such as Black Star Canyon, if you are respectful of their space odds are they will leave you alone.
From the corner of Quail, begin hiking steadily up Acorn Road, reaching its terminus in half a mile and almost 400 feet of elevation gain. Pass by a gate and follow a dirt road past a water tank for an additional 0.3 miles to the signed start of the trail. The trail, now a single-track, curves along the side of a ridge, soon providing a good aerial view of Wrightwood, with the high desert beyond. A tree stump, about a mile (650 vertical feet) from the start makes a perfect spot to catch your breath and enjoy the panorama.
The trail continues switchbacking its way up the mountain, sometimes quite steeply. You get a dramatic view of steep Acorn Canyon, where a few rogue oaks cling to the hillside in the midst of the taller pines.
Near the top, the grade levels out somewhat. You pass under an “arch” made by a fallen tree caught between two that are still standing, and then you reach an intersection with the Pacific Crest Trail and a dirt road. On the opposite side of the dirt road, you get an excellent view of Pine Mountain, the second tallest peak in the San Gabriels – but one that is not often visible due to being blocked out by its taller neighbor to the south, Mt. Baldy. From this vantage point, however, Pine actually blocks out Baldy; you can also see a little bit of Dawson Peak, the third highest summit in the San Gabriels, in back of Pine.
Text and photography copyright 2014 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. By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.