[pct-l] Powerhouse Fire Detour Options

Michael Irving michaeljirving at gmail.com
Sat Mar 21 23:46:58 CDT 2015

Powerhouse Fire Detour

Hi all,

GoalTech here…I’ll be section-hiking this spring from Highway 58/Tehachapi to Vasquez Rocks going SoBo.  My understanding is that the section of the trail close due to the Powerhouse Fire is still closed and will be closed during the 2015 hiking season to let the trail recover, to avoid further erosion and to avoid potential safety issues.

I’ve studied what I think is the official closure notice and also some alternate routes which fundamentally include a lot of road walking to Hiker Town or going over the aqueduct for a longer stretch that misses Hiker Town all-together.

What puzzles me is that I think I see a better detour that I haven’t seen mentioned yet.  I’m wondering if the original closure was over a wider area that didn’t allow this as an option?  I’ll describe it here with the hope to see if it’s a valid option or if there is even a better option available now.

It appears that the current closure starts 2.9 miles north of San Francisquito Canyon Road on the PCT at PCT mile 481 (the south edge) up to (generally) Fish Creek on the north edge at about PCT mile 489.  At PCT mile 496, the trail intersects with Forest Service Road 7N23 which is a dirt road.  This road goes 3.1 miles down to Pine Canyon Road and would seem to be a viable way to get on/off the trail here.

So here’s the detour I’ve been studying that seems to maximize the usage of the PCT in this section.

For a Nobo hiker at the junction of the trail on San Francisquito Road (just up the road from Casa de Luna/Green Valley), walk northeast on San Francisquito Road for 1.4 miles to Elizabeth Lake Road.  Turn left (north) on Elizabeth Lake road and continue on as it turns into Pine Canyon Road and walk for 8.9 miles on these two roads until getting to Forest Service Road 7N23 at Bushnell Summit.  Turn left (west) on this road and walk 3.1 miles up to the PCT.  Then turn right (north) on the PCT and continue 20.5 miles to Hiker Town.  This detour is 44 miles compared to the 40 miles that the PCT travels over this same point-to-point.

Is this a viable route?  Is it known already and I just missed it?  Was it not originally a viable route back in the 2014 hiking season due to a more extended closure?  It seems to me to be the best detour currently available and I’m just surprised that I haven’t seen any mention of it as a possibility.

Thanks in advance for your help, advice and expertise!


P.S.  For a more complicate, but similar distance and more trail and less road option, consider the following detour.

- Take the PCT north from San Francisquito Road

- Go 2.9 miles to where the PCT intersects with Burns Fire Road 7N01 (This road creates the edge of the closed boundary, but it appears to be “open”, but it would be good if someone knew this as a fact)

- Go 1.9 miles to where you can appear to “drop-down” about 100 yards to Burns Canyon where a new housing development appears to be being built (GoogleMaps).

- Drop down 100 yards and connect with the end of Ranch Club Road and continue about a mile to where Ranch Club Road intersects with Kiptree Drive. (If you don’t want to “drop down” here off-trail you can continue on for 0.7 miles and take a left on a trail that generally heads down to the same area.  I’d suspect that this longer on-trail route would add about 0.7 miles to the route described as the “drop down” route)

- Veer left and continue on Ranch Club Road for 0.6 miles to Sandrock Drive

- Take a left on Sandrock Drive and go 1.0 miles until it takes a sharp hairpin turn to the left.  Instead of taking that sharp hairpin turn to the left, step just a few feet off the road straight ahead and slightly to the left to connect with a spur road off of Joey Road at the spur’s end.

- Go back up the spur road (away from Lake Elizabeth) for 0.1 miles to connect with Joey Road.

- Turn right on Joey Road and follow it 0.8 miles until it tees into Elizabeth Lake Road (at 0.6 miles on this leg, Joey Road will turn into S. Portal Road…stay to the right)

- Turn left on Elizabeth Lake Road and follow it for 6.9 miles (it will turn into Pine Canyon Road along the way) until you reach Bushnell Summit and the intersection of Forest Route 7N23.

- Turn left on Forest Route 7N23 and follow it for 2.0 miles until you reach a junction with Forest Route 7N23B.  At this point you have two options.

Option 1: Continue on Forest Route 7N23 (southwest) for 1.1 miles until you reach the PCT.  This is the shorter mileage option.  Once reaching the PCT at mile 496.5, turn right and continue 20.5 miles to Hiker Town.  This option is 18.3 miles to mile 496.5 and is 0.2 miles shorter than the PCT going from the same point-to-point.  With this option, you’ll miss 18.5 miles of the PCT.

Option 2: Turn left (southeast) on Forest Route 7N23B for 0.8 miles until you reach the end of the road at Upper Shake Campground (shown as a water source on Halfmile maps).  Once at the campground, it appears that you can cut 2/10s mile southeast to go up a fairly steep hill to get back to the PCT at mile 493.  Turn right (west) and continue 24.0 miles to Hiker Town.  This option is 21.7 miles to mile 496.5 and is 3.7 miles longer than the PCT going from the same point-to-point. With this option you’ll miss 15.5 miles of the PCT.

The 3 routes listed here include the following  “road miles” on MAJOR roads

(1) The simpler road route: 11.5 miles

(2) The more complex routes that maximized PCT trail miles and minimize major road miles: 6.9 miles (4.6 fewer road miles than the 11.5 route)

(The mileages and routes in this description were taken from Halfmile maps & Google Maps.  If you look at GoogleMaps you can see this route description…just zoom in until the PCT comes visible on GoogleMaps as that’s the level you’ll need to see these obscure routes)

In summary…is there any reason these routes won’t work? Is there any other better route that maximizes time on the PCT and minimizes road walking that I missed?

Thanks…hopefully this will work and hopefully it’ll help others.  Happy trails!  -GoalTech

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