High desert, Angeles National Forest, CA

Grassy Hollow/Jackson Flat Loop (Angeles National Forest)

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    • Location: Grassy Hollow Visitor Center, Angeles National Forest. The visitor center is on the north side of Highway 2, four miles east of Vincent Gap, 2.5 miles west of Big Pines and 11 miles west of the junction with Highway 138. A National Forest Service adventure pass ($5 per day or $30 per year) is required. Click here to purchase. Check road conditions before going.
    • Agency:  Angeles National Forest, Mojave and Santa Clara Rivers Ranger District; Grassy Hollow Visitor Center
    • Distance: 4.7 miles
    • Elevation gain: 550 feet
    • Suggested time: 2.5 hours
    • Difficulty rating: PG
    • Best season: May – November
    • Dogs: Allowed
    • Cell phone reception:  None
    • Restrooms: Vault style toilets at the Grassy Hollow Picnic Area
    • Water: None
    • Camping/backpacking: Overnight parking is not allowed at Grassy Hollow, so if you want to spend the night on the trail, you will have to be dropped off. There is a spot en route (see description) that is a possibility for camping. The nearest established campground is Table Mountain near Big Pines, about three miles away. (Larger groups can use the Jackson Flat Group Campground, which operates from May to September.)
    • Recommended gear: sun hat insect repellent
    • More information: Description from a Meet Up event (Vincent Gap to Grassy Hollow) here; trip description from Inspiration Point to Jackson Flat here
    • Rating: 7

This enjoyable hike features the type of mountain and high desert views that usually only come with summiting a major Angeles high country peak such as Mt. Baden-Powell or Mt. Islip. While some hikers may be sensitive to the altitude (this route starts at 7,300 feet above sea level) anyone in decent physical shape shouldn’t have a problem. The route can also be shortened or lengthened as desired. Other than P.C.T. through-hikers, this area tends to not get as much traffic as the routes from Vincent Gap.

From the back of the Grassy Hollow Picnic Area, pick up the Pacific Crest Trail and head northwest (left) along a pine-dotted slope. In 0.6 mile, you reach a junction with a paved service road (the return route). Head right and almost immediately branch off on the P.C.T. again, now enjoying outstanding, unobstructed views of the desert far below.

The trail meanders pleasantly along the north slope of the San Gabriels, ducking in and out of pine groves. At 1.8 miles, you pass a junction with the trail coming up from Jackson Lake. A spur on the left leads to the service road, an option if you want to shorten the hike.

At about 2.4 miles from the start you reach an attractive bench with views of Mt. Baden-Powell; this can be a good spot to spend the night. From here, the trail bends south and makes a more pronounced descent, taking in views of Punchbowl area (sharp-eyed hikers may be able to pick out the Manzanita Trail as it leaves Vincent Gap and descends toward the high desert). A few black oaks and pines provide shade.

At 2.7 miles, you reach a junction with a dirt service road, 4N56. You can  continue along the P.C.T. to Vincent Gap, 0.8 mile and 600 feet below, but remember that unless you have set up a shuttle, those 600 feet have to be made up on the return. You can also retrace your steps along the Pacific Crest Trail for a 5.4 mile round trip.

To add variety (and save some time) consider heading back along the service road. The road offers fantastic views of Mt. Baldy, Pine Mountain, Mt. Baden-Powell and the east fork of the San Gabriel River. The first section of the road is dirt before converting to pavement. (This section of the road is open only to official vehicles, so you will likely have it all to yourself). After passing by the entrance to the Jackson Flat Group Campground, the road deposits you back at the visitor center.

Pacific Crest Trail, Angeles National Forest, CA
Through the pines on the Pacific Crest Trail
Mt Baden Powell, Angeles National Forest, CA
View of Mt. Baden-Powell from the Pacific Crest Trail west of Grassy Hollow
Pacific Crest Trail, Angeles National Forest, CA
Looking west from the Pacific Crest Trail
Mt. Baldy, Angeles National Forest, CA
Mt. Baldy as seen from the service road

Text and photography copyright 2017 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.

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