Forest service asks public to “Know Before You Go” into the snow.
Winter conditions continue throughout the upper elevations of the San Gabriel Mountains, luring city dwellers to experience the snow firsthand. But Forest visitors are urged to plan their trips in advance and take along a few essential winter safety items such as tire chains, which may be required for passage. Also, those visiting the mountains should dress appropriately for winter weather and carry extra food, water and blankets in case you’re stranded.
Visitors should expect heavy weekend traffic, particularly around Wrightwood and in the Mount Baldy area, with waits of up to 2 hours. In Big Pines, plowed snowdrifts are as high as 9 feet, preventing roadside parking for snow play. Cars blocking state, county or Forest roads are subject to towing. Developed snow play areas are available at resorts in Wrightwood and in the San Bernardino National Forest.
“Know before you go” by calling a Forest Service office to check on the latest conditions for your destination. Following a few common sense guidelines will help ensure a safe trip to the mountains. Maintain a longer following distance while driving on slick or snow-covered roads and zip your car keys up in a pocket. If your keys are dropped in the snow, you’re in for a long day. Also, keep in mind cell phone coverage is very limited in the San Gabriel Mountains.
Upper elevations of the Angeles National Forest have received over 50 inches of snow in the last 2 weeks. Substantial rain at the lower elevations has raised the moisture content of vegetation, prompting the fire danger level to be lowered to “Moderate,” effective Monday, February 4.
The change in the fire danger level does not relax fire-related visitor use restrictions. Open campfires will still be permitted in developed campgrounds only. Gas, jellied or propane-type camp stoves are permitted in campgrounds and trail camps and in backcountry areas with a valid California Campfire Permit. Spark arrestors (required year-round) should be checked to make sure they are in good working order on all off-road vehicles, chain saws and other equipment with internal combustion engines.
The “Moderate” fire danger level is the second in a six-level, graduated fire danger rating system. A variety of factors determine the level, including the moisture in vegetation, weather conditions and nationwide firefighting equipment and personnel needs.
The California Department of Transportation posts current road condition information for the Angeles Crest Highway (State Route 2) at 1-800-427-7623. Closures on the Angeles Forest Hwy and other roads throughout the Angeles are posted on the Los Angeles County website at www.ladpw.org/mpm/roadclosure.
For more information about winter recreation on the Angeles National Forest, contact the Forest Supervisor’s Office at (626) 574-5200 or the office nearest your destination:
Los Angeles River Ranger District (818) 899-1900
San Gabriel River Ranger District (626) 335-1251
Santa Clara-Mojave Rivers Ranger District (661) 296-9710
Clear Creek Information Center (626) 821-6764
Mount Baldy Visitor Center (909) 982-2829
Big Pines Information Center (760) 249-3504