The Pacific Crest Trail California portion begins at the southern border with Mexico and extends northward all the way to the Oregon border. Some of the most dramatic scenery in the state is along the trail, and there are plenty of places to camp along the way should extended treks be the aim.
The portion of the Pacific Crest Trail that passes through the southern part of the state offers quite a lot in the way of diversity. Much of the terrain is desert, and at one point, hikers and horseback riders have the chance to climb up into the higher reaches of the San Jacinto Mountains. Not too far after this point, the trail dips down considerably, passing through the San Gorgonio Pass. Following along to the north, the trail climbs again passing the Big Bear Lake area before it makes a sharp turn west towards the San Gabriel Mountains that can be found north of Los Angeles.
After passing through the Angeles National Forest, California’s Pacific Crest Trail leads north in a direction that has it destined for a portion of the Sequoia National Forest. It is in this forest area that the southern portion of the trail ends and the central portion begins. Along the central portion, hikers trek through meadows and forests, and should they go far enough, they will eventually enter the beautiful Sequoia National Park. Another renowned trail known as the John Muir Trail meets the Pacific Crest Trail near Mt. Whitney, and the two follow close to one another through part of Yosemite National Park. California’s central portion of the PCT features the highest point on the entire trail. This point is Forester Pass, and the elevation is 13,180 feet.
Several national forests surround the northern portion of California’s Pacific Crest Trail, and the trail runs close to such attractions as Lake Tahoe and the Squaw Valley Ski Resort. The terrain is mountainous and absolutely gorgeous. South of Mt Shasta, the trail heads in a westerly direction and crosses over the Sacramento River at an elevation of 2,130 feet. From there it rises again through the Trinity Alps and the Marble Mountains and then back down over the Klamath River (elev. 1,370 feet). Back up it goes into the Siskiyou Mountains, where it connects to the Pacific Crest Trail Oregon portion.
Anyone who wishes to camp on or near the Pacific Crest Trail should know that an overnight permit may be required, especially in wilderness areas. Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to check about permits in general when hiking along any portion of the trail. Other portions of the trail include the Pacific Crest Trail Oregon portion and the Pacific Crest Trail Washington portion.
Images provided by PCTA.org