Wildfires Have Created “Widow Maker” Gaps along the Pacific Crest Trail

Wildfires Have Created “Widow Maker” Gaps along the Pacific Crest Trail

Wildfires Have Created “Widow Maker” Gaps along the Pacific Crest Trail

Wildfires have created lengthy gaps in Southern California sections of the Pacific Crest Trail, which hikers must bypass via shuttles or alternate routes to avoid dangerous conditions like unstable trees and loose rocks.

Long-distance backpackers are taking alternate routes around the closures for fear of incurring fines, including taking private shuttles, public buses, or hiking alternate routes. So far no fines have been levied according the the Park Service

To get around a 15.5-mile gap caused by a wildfire last year in the San Bernardino National Forest, hikers are driven from the Whitewater Trail House in Cabazon to Big Bear Lake or nearby Onyx Summit on State Route 38, where the trail reopens. They can take private shuttles, public buses, or alternate hiking routes.

About 14 miles of the trail approaching the mountain town of Idyllwild are still closed 3 years after a blaze scorched more than 27,000 acres.

Each year, thousands trek sections of the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail, which runs from Mexico to Canada.

Some of the adventurers are not thrilled with the idea of getting into a van after retreating into the wilderness.

Danger in the unstable areas can come from falling branches dubbed “Widow Makers,” dead giant trees with weak roots that can fall and crush hikers, the US Forest Service said. Loose rocks, debris including rolling logs, flash floods, trail side stump holes and slippery ash can also pose a danger.

Crews are working to remove charred trees and fill in holes to make the trails passable again. While some hikers are impatient for the work to finish, others do not mind catching an occasional ride.

When adventuring in the wild country, always be alert and careful.

Paul Ebeling



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