Canyon Fire Prompts 30-Mile Closure of Pacific Crest Trail

The Canyon Fire seen from the 14 Freeway on Monday | Photo by Zach Behrens/KCET

At 2,650 miles in length, spanning the West Coast from the Mexico to Canada borders, the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail is no stranger to fire. Just this past week several sections sections in Oregon and California have been closed due to blazes. One of those is in Southern California.

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Caused by a small plane crash that killed two people outside Tehachapi on Sunday, the so-called Canyon Fire has charred nearly 15,000 acres and destroyed 12 homes and 18 outbuildings. As of Wednesday it was 60 percent contained.

The Bureau of Land Management on Wednesday said about 30 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail was temporarily closed between Highway 58 and the Los Angeles Aqueduct, just north of Rosamond Boulevard in Rosamond (.pdf map).

"Most thru-hikers head northbound and pass through there in May," Jack Haskel of the Pacific Crest Trail Association, the official nonprofit that works with the U.S. Forest Service on the trail, explained about hikers that trek the whole path in one season. "The southbound hikers won't be there until November. If there's still a closure, those people will need car rides."

Day- and segment-hikers braving the hot desert temperatures in the area will also be affected.

The PCTA tries to find alternative routes for hikers, but Haskel said many areas in Southern California are rife with busy freeways and private property, making it difficult to recommend safe and legal detours.

50 miles south of blaze is another fire in Agua Dulce. While there have been no trail closures, the PCTA is recommending that hikers avoid the area until the fire is extinguished.

The Pacific Crest Trail was designated in 1968 by congress and completed in 1993.

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