SOTA Summit: W6/CT-040, Pine Mountain
Trail: Road, PCT and use trail
Hike: Moderate ~ 7.3 miles round trip
Elevation gain: 1500′
Self Spot: Yes (AT&T)
2-meter FM: Yes
Well that is a first! Seeing a Yeti on the activation…
After skipping over Pine Mountain for the last year or so, I decided it was time. Pine Mountain never appeared all too interesting to me when I had read the trail reports, so I had always chosen another summit. However, after Paul, W6PNG, went off and did it earlier in the week, I decided it was finally time to “check the box” on Pine Mountain. The irony is that Pine turn out to be the kind of hike I like the most: a use trail up a tough steep slope that is not worn out by a million hikers and it has exposure along the backbone for bonus points. I think it counts as my favorite hike/activation so far this year.
There are two main trails for Pine Mountain: from Wrightwood or from Guffy Camp. Wrightwood adds about 4 miles round trip and another 2000′ of elevation gain: probably the way to go if you are training for some upcoming big hikes. I wanted to see if I could do another summit in the afternoon, so I chose the Guffy Camp trailhead.
Access is straightforward, from Highway 2 take Forrest Road 3N06.1 (Blue Ridge Road) at Inspiration Point. It is about a 5-mile drive with great views. In fact, you’ll drive through the Mountain High Ski Resort. Kind of cool to drive under chairlifts. Remember to keep an eye out for the Yeti!
Guffy Campground has vault toilets, picnic benches, and a number of drive-up campsites. No water. Two-wheel drive should be fine; I saw an older Buick LeSabre driving back to Guffy Camp.
You’ll notice in the GPX file that I took the forest road on the way up and the PCT on the way back. I’d suggest the PCT as more pleasant. You can access it at the northeast corner of the campground. Either way, you do need to follow the forest road for the last little bit in order to reach the trailhead for the hike up Pine Mountain.
The only note on the hike up Pine Mountain is that it does have exposure along its backbone trail. Being a use trail there are no switchbacks. It just climbs straight up the northern spine of Pine Mountain. There are spots with a bit of class-2 and some significant exposure, similar to sections of the Devils Backbone on Mt. Baldy.
The summit has great views of the surrounding mountains. You’ll also be looking right down on the tempting ridgeline that connects Pine to Dawson to Baldy. I had the summit all to myself, and I was able to get 8 contact on 2-meters, so this is another peak you could probably reliably handle as a 2 -meter only activation. I then set up in the shade and completed another 18 contacts using CW on 20 and 40.
On the hike back, I took a quick side trip to bag Wright Mountain. After finding and completing the peak register, I found my way back onto the PCT and headed back to Guffy Camp.
Thank you to all the chasers who helped to make this a successful SOTA activation.
(Note on photos: I am not a photography hobbyist who tries to frame each shot. I point and shoot when I see something I want to remember. I like trip reports with lots of photos to give you an idea of the trail conditions, special features, points of interest, terrain etc.)