Forest closure update 1st October 2020

[UPDATE 6th October: The Forest will reportedly reopen on Friday 9th October for day use. Wilderness camping will remain prohibited. Some forest roads may remain closed. Full details will be available shortly.]

The closure of the San Jacinto Ranger District of the San Bernardino National Forest, which began on Monday 7th September, has been extended until at least 8th October (see revised closure order here).

Notices posted at trailheads such as Humber Park and Ernie Maxwell Trail were amended by hand on 22nd September to simply say “extended, see website for details”. Apparently, “the closure will be reevaluated daily”, although the previous three closure orders have all run through to their expiration date. The Forest Service does have a relatively useful FAQs regarding the closure.

In addition to the forest and trails, this closure includes all campgrounds, picnic sites, trailheads, and forest roads. This unprecedented step has been taken due to exceptional fire risk, for public and firefighter safety, and due to lack of adequate emergency response resources. Other parts of the San Bernardino NF, as well as other national forests in Southern California, are included in the closure.

As indicated on the website of Mount San Jacinto State Park, all state park trails are also closed. As public trails into the Park largely pass through Forest Service land, the Park is functionally inaccessible.

The Snow Fire, which started on 17th September, was held initially at 6013 acres (see prior posting for discussion). On 22nd September that acreage was revised up to 6254, apparently due to improved mapping, rather than additional burning. Given the enormous challenges with almost all the other fires in the state at this time, we are extremely fortunate that the Snow Fire was not ultimately many times larger, or more destructive. The principal formal trail impacted was the PCT. About eight miles were burned (approx. PCT Miles 198-206) although damage to the trail is minimal due to the gentle gradient on this section and the relatively short, light chaparral in this area.

Black Mountain Road is closed (at the gate by Highway 243), possibly for the remainder of the year. All fire lookouts in the San Bernardino National Forest are currently closed, apparently for the protection of the volunteers who operate them and due to scarce resource availability in the event of any emergency.

Air quality on the mountain has varied from day-to-day, but in general has been poor. The smoke/smog level has visibly fluctuated between about 7000′ to 12,000′, although overall air quality has improved significantly in the San Jacinto mountains in recent days.

WEATHER Although temperatures cooled somewhat earlier this week, they have climbed again to well above seasonal. Temperatures are forecast to fall significantly next week. The air temperature at San Jacinto Peak on the morning of 23rd (59.9°F) was the highest ever recorded at that location in the second half of September. There is no precipitation in the forecast. The prospects for the remainder of 2020, discussed in an earlier video from NWS San Diego, are not encouraging.

Please stay safe everyone. I will continue to post updated information as it becomes available.

San Jacinto Trail Report: available for everyone, funded by readers.While all labor and time is volunteered, this Report completely depends on small private donations to cover costs. With an especially challenging year in 2020, every contribution is invaluable. If you have found this Report useful, please consider visiting the Donate page. Thank you.

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