OverviewNOTE:The description below is not current as of September 1, 2012. You cannot currently drive into the area where the start of the PCT to Mt. Pacifico is described below owing to damage from the 2009 "Station" fire. Just to the left of the still remaining Mill Creek Summit picnic area parking lot right off Angeles Forest Highway, is signage for the PCT. However, as of September 1, 2012, a sign probibits entry onto that section of the PCT owing, according to Forest Service personnel, to maintenance work currently being done in the area.
This is a wonderful route on a well-maintained and easy graded section of the Pacific Crest Trail (“PCT”). At the northern-most part of the route, the trail opens up to magnificent and expansive views of the Mojave Desert and Antelope Valley in anticipation of what you will see on the summit of Pacifico Mountain. This peak, at 7,124 feet elevation, is situated on the northern part of the San Gabriel range.
This route is about 12 miles roundtrip with 2200’ of gain.
Getting ThereFrom the 210 Freeway, exit at Angeles Crest Highway (SR 2) and go north for 9.5 miles to Angeles Forest Highway. Turn left onto Angeles Forest Highway and drive 14.2 miles to Mill Creek Summit on the right. The first facility you will see is the signed Mill Creek Summit Picnic Area which has its own parking lot. Do not park here. Rather, turn right onto the paved road marked by a sign indicating hiking trail. This road will take you to the Mill Creek Summit Station on one side of the road and maintenance facilities on the other side. Just past the maintenance buildings, there is a large paved parking area on your right. Park here.
Route DescriptionMost descriptions of getting to the PCT from “Mill Creek Summit” are a little confusing. I aim to be a little more detailed.
From the parking area described above walk across the road you drove in on. This road becomes the Pacifico Mountain Road, 3N17, and you will see the signed beginning of N317 as you cross. A few yards to your right after you cross the road, look for a metal sign reading “PCT” and pointing left. Turn left at the sign and in about 50 yards you will come to the signed PCT. Go right (heading southeast) towards Pacifico Mountain.
The trail all the way to Pacifico Mountain is in great shape. It roughly parallels 3N17 which road is to the south. During the first couple of miles you will have awesome views of Tie Canyon to your left.
After heading generally east for about 3 miles, the trail turns north through a forest of big cone spruce and live oak. Further up, you will emerge onto less shaded chapparal-laden slopes.
As you reach a ridgecrest, which you will round, you will be able to soak in expansive views of the Antelope Valley and Mojave Desert. These views are always good, but can attain the quality of stunning if the skies are particularly clear. After rounding the ridge, the trail turns south and intersects a dirt road. The PCT follows this road for about ½ mile. The trail then turns left and climbs east again, then southeast under Jeffrey pines and oaks.
Finally, in a little over 5 miles from the start, you will reach a large saddle signed for the Pacifico Mtn. Campground and the PCT. If you wanted to stay on road all the way to the summit, you could follow the “Pacifico Road” another 1.25 miles to the top.
For a more scenic, not to mention challenging alternative, leave the trail at the saddle and head east up Pacifico’s west ridge. The ridge is extremely steep at the beginning, but it gets more “manageable” as you ascend. You get great views of the Mt. Wilson crest from along this ridge. It is about ½ mile to the top.
Essential GearClothing-wise, you can go as casual as you like because the trail is brush-free. For footwear, you could even go with sandals, except for the ridge portion of the route for which you will want sturdy trail runners at a minimum and short gaiters as well if you don’t like loose dirt in your shoes.
Red TapeYou will need an Adventure Pass to park at the trailhead. They cost $5 for a daily pass and $30 for yearly. Interagency Annual, Senior, and Access Passes may also be used. These passes are sold at Forest Service stations, most sporting goods stores, and, as of February 1, 2008, on-line
Other InformationUSGS Topos Pacifico Mountain 7.5
Tom Harrison Angeles Front Country Trail Map (1:63,360 scale)
San Gabriel Mtns. Recreation Topo Map (1:62,500 scale), Western Section
(Angeles National Forest and the Verdugo Mountains) by Fine Edge Productions
External LinksSan Gabriel Mountains Discussion Forum
Adventure Pass information
Purchasing forest parking passes on-line