Walk Distance: 0.9 km / 0.6 miles
Walk Duration: 50 minutes at preschooler pace and time for enjoying the views from the top.
Map: Tom Harrison Maps – Angeles High Country
Suitable for: Kids in carriers, good little hikers, older kids. There is a deal of uphill but it is gradual enough and a short enough trail that even little walkers should manage it. This trail is pretty narrow so not suitable for all-terrain strollers although you can always walk up on the Pacific Crest Trail for wider, flatter terrain.
Walk Features: Sweeping views both towards the high desert and the Pacific side of the San Gabriels, varied flora and possibilities to spot wildlife, some shade, bathrooms at trail head, bench at view point, pick up a nature trail guide from leaflet box or nearby Ranger Station.
The Lightening Ridge Nature Trail is a great short family hike for those wanting to experience some wilderness without straying too far. Our 2yo managed it without issue. We discovered this trail when we got up too late on an August Saturday to take a longer hike and it was too warm to be on too exposed a trail, yet we really wanted to truly escape Los Angeles and enjoy some views! This trail hit the spot. The views are fantastic across the desert on the way out and then jaw-dropping over the Pacific side of the trail when you meet the iconic Pacific Crest Trail. There’s a bench there which makes a great spot for a picnic or treat as a reward for the uphill before.’
The Lightening Ridge Nature Trail Hike starts from just to the right of the bathrooms and information point. It is clearly labeled with a sign for the Lightening Ridge Nature Trail.
A very short way up the trail, turn right onto a slightly smaller side trail. Here you can sign the visitor book and pick up a leaflet with information on the trees and plants along the trail, although at the time of our visit there were none available. You may wish to stop by the Ranger Station at Grassy Hollow where more can be obtained.
Continue along the trail as it weaves in amongst the trees. After initially enjoying a level then slightly downhill terrain, the trail eventually begins to gently but steadily climb up the hillside.
You start to get some glimpses of the high desert in the distance through the trees here, which only get better as you climb (don’t forget to glimpse behind you when you turn the bend).
The trail climbs some steps and bends back on itself, heading through more trees.
Continue uphill until eventually you leave the wooded area onto a more exposed track.
Follow the trail until it merges onto the Pacific Crest Trail.
Immediately opposite this junction is another small trail leading up to a fantastic viewpoint across the mountains. It is well worth the minute’s diversion. There you will find a bench to sit and drink in the panorama that awaits you.
From here, return to the Pacific Crest Trail and turn right, heading back downhill. Keep on the this trail, following towards the left at the bottom of the hill. This takes you behind the bathroom block at the parking lot and emerges back onto the trail where you first started your hike.
If you still have energy for more hiking, you can cross the road from the parking lot and continue on the Pacific Crest Trail a little way further.
Map of Route:
The Lightening Ridge Nature Trail Hike starts from a decent sized parking lot at Inspiration Point ( just opposite the parking lot on the bend where people pull in by car to take a look at the views).
You will need an Adventure Park for the Angeles National Forest to park here. You can pick these up from most good outdoor recreation and supplies stores – here is a list of suppliers.
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