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C is for the (Pacific) Crest Trail: A Free to See #AtoZChallenge Post


A marker along the Pacific Crest Trail points the direction of the path

I'm living in southern California this year, and decided to use my exploration of the area as my focus for the #AtoZChallenge. I'm concentrating on free to see places, though I will include locations that require a parking fee. This is the third post in the series. 

While hiking the entirety of the Pacific Crest Trail is a bucket-list item for some, I decided to explore about a mile and a half segment in the Vasquez Rocks Natural Area near Agua Dulce, California. I'll post more about Vasquez Rocks when we get to "V" but for now I'll focus on the PCT experience.

Although you can pick up the Pacific Crest Trail right at the entrance to the Vasquez Rocks park, I decided to shave some time and distance off my hike. If you want to do the same (cutting the total hike from almost 5 miles to only 3), I suggest parking in the furthest lot from the entrance. There is no admission fee nor parking fee. The big rock formation (labeled "Famous Rocks" on the park map) will be behind you on your right. You'll want to park and then start your hike through the yellow gate on your left. There are picnic tables scattered around. The Pacific Crest Trail is fairly wide in this part of the park.

As you continue moving southward along the trail, you'll be rewarded with striking views, not only of the Famous Rocks, but also other formations. Depending on the time of year (I hiked this toward the end of March), the vegetation might be green and flowers might be blooming. You'll probably spot lizards, and just be aware that rattlesnakes might be present as well. If you follow the rule to stay on the path, you should be able to avoid an unexpected encounter.

That horizontal line between the rock formation in the foreground and the mountain in the background is California Highway 14, or in California-speak, "the 14." 

A meadow of California goldfields, with Vasquez Rocks in the background

A lizard suns himself on a rock to the side of the trail

As I continued southward along the PCT, the trail dropped down into a canyon area, and I was pleasantly surprised to find I needed to ford a small stream numerous times. I wasn't expecting to find running water in the desert! I was glad I was wearing my Keen hiking sandals, which are made for just such hikes and dry quickly. I also was fortunate to meet a woman who was hiking with some children and a dog, and together we helped each other across some of the trickier spots. (Trickier only if you are trying to stay dry by hopping from rock to rock; the water was probably only shin-deep in those more challenging crossings.)

One of many places where the trail crossed the stream

The green grasses and leafed-out trees almost convinced me I wasn't in a desert anymore

Remember the 14 freeway in the photo earlier in this post? Well, the Pacific Crest Trail follows a tunnel that goes under the freeway. My new-found friend took a photo at the entrance of the tunnel for me. 

Me outside the tunnel under the 14 freeway.

After she took a photo for me, and I took one for her, we ventured in. It's fairly dark inside, and unless you want to be walking through water, I suggest walking to the side. 

The view from the opposite end of the tunnel (looking toward the north).

After emerging out the south end of the tunnel, there is a metal structure. I'm not sure exactly what it is.

Metal posts and beams on the south side of the freeway

After I came out of the tunnel, I turned around and retraced my steps back to the parking lot. I don't have the bragging rights to say I've hiked the entire Pacific Crest Trail, but I did spend an enjoyable couple of hours, and if I ever decide to do the whole thing, I only have 2,648 and a half miles left! 


  1. For those of us with limited time and hiking skills, it's nice to have places and parts to go see.

    1. Yes, those who hike the entire trail must be very motivated and have a lot of time on their hands.

  2. The rock formations and the views are lovely, but I am out with "rattlesnakes" :D Can't wait for you to do the rest of the 2,648-1/2 miles! Great photo of you at the tunnel!

    1. Oh, you've already hiked where there are rattlesnakes! I've seen two Mojave green rattlesnakes at the poppy reserve (not this year, though.)

    2. Oh, they were all frozen stiff that day! Or maybe that was me?!

  3. I took my walk with Cheryl Strayed

  4. Beautiful rock formations! And the area looks like freedom :-)

    Ronel visiting for C: My Languishing TBR: C
    Unsettling Changelings


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