Just went up to the Big Pines Nature Trail last week. It was late in the day and thick, gold light was drifting down through the pines and slopes. Located just three miles west of Wrightwood, this is a convenient spot to walk a gentle, half-mile loop up amongst some
really large pines along with fine views of thickly forested Blue Ridge. The trail starts next to the old Big Pines Lodge. Look for a little parking lot on the north side of Highway 2, just before passing the old Big Pines Lodge. You start your loop hike by walking up a flight of beautiful stone stairs built back when Big Pines was developed as the jewel of the Los Angeles County parks. These stairs were tread upon by visitors to this mountain wonderland of four seasons. Not only was there a lodge here for dances, movies, plays and replete with fireplaces, but there were housekeeping cabins, a place to dine, sled runs, ice skating, camping, swimming and even a little zoo. Back then, the Angeles Crest Highway had not yet been finished, so one drove here from
the desert side on County Route
N4 or up from Cajon Canyon by way of Lone Pine Canyon Road through Wrightwood. No freeways. The San Gabriel Mountains have always held an allure for people seeking beauty and peace. It’s no different today, and although the times and works of man pass slowly by, the beauty of these mountains remains. An easy walk for all ages, this self-guided nature trail does about a hundred feet of gain in just over a half mile before returning back down to its’ beginning. There are signs along the path that point out the native plants along the way. The slope you travel is south-facing and receives good light
and even in the winter and early spring can still be comfortably warm while snow still clings to the north slopes of Blue Ridge. Because of this slope’s southerly aspect, you’ll find sun loving plants such as Yerba Santa, Parry’s Manzanita and Fremontia (flannel bush) to name a few. Yet, you’ll still enjoy the welcome shade of Ponderosa, Jeffrey pine and leafy black oaks (Kellogg). There are some good spots to sit down and rest awhile and think about nothing. Upon your return, don’t forget to poke your head into the door of the visitor center, located on far right side of the porch of the old Big Pines Lodge. Presently, the center is staffed by the U.S. Forest Service Friday through Tuesday, providing information on local places to visit and hike.