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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Pacific Crest Trail- Moving on Up!

Perspective Shift: A view towards the current Pacific Crest Trail alignment on the Antelope Valley floor
from Tejon Ranch, where the trail is being realigned. 
Of the long trails in the United States, the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) stands as one of the finest and most well-known. While not boasting the most elevation change, or even the longest distance, the PCT takes hikers to the highest point in the Continental US, through the “Range of Light,” and past Mts. Hood, and Ranier. In the process, it goes from the desert to temperate rainforest and all habitat types in between. When the 2,650 mile trail was first proposed in the 1930’s, it was to traverse the highest points along the West Coast’s mountainous spine between Mexico and Canada. At that time, the federal government could not get permission to build the trail through Tejon Ranch, whose property in the Tehachapi Mountains represents the transition from southern California into the Sierra Nevada. Instead PCT hikers have had to make their way through the Mojave Desert alongside aqueduct roads--not quite the experience they signed up for.
This week, tangible actions were taken to move 38 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail onto the crest of the Tehachapi Mountain’s crest. And for the first time, PCT hikers and equestrians will be able to experience this remarkable landscape.


The existing trail through the Mojave and the new proposed route across the crest of the Tehachapi Mountains. 
View 
Side by Side PCT in a larger map. 
A 10,000-acre conservation easement from the Tejon Ranch Company protects the views from the new section of the trail. The easement limits the construction of new roads and buildings, protecting the sweeping views that will be visible by hikers and horseback riders.
For us at the Conservancy, we’re not only celebrating this opportunity to improve the PCT experience, but this acquisition brings our conservation easement holdings on Tejon Ranch to more than 100,000 acres in five years. That’s an area of land larger than Philadelphia or Atlanta. It’s almost 25 Griffith Parks! For those who like round numbers, think 100,000 soccer fields or 200,000 Boston Commons.
It’s also a further step in realizing the vision of the 2008 Ranch-wide Agreement , which created the roadmap for conservation on Tejon Ranch. The Conservancy’s partnership with Tejon Ranch Company, the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCT-A) and the US Forest Service (USFS) underscores the collaborative nature of this historic document. It’s something we are very proud of.
Soon, this partnership will coordinate on a 500’ trail conveyance. Meanwhile, PCT-A and USFS will continue working out arrangements for a trail easement with private landowners east of Tejon Ranch-to connect the realignment with the rest of the trail. It's all coming together!

The PCT realignment will take hikers into the Tehachapi Mountain high country on Tejon Ranch.