Nature enthusiasts and outdoor enthusiasts have reason to celebrate as 2.5 miles of the iconic Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and an expansive 1,172 acres of surrounding land in Northern California have been permanently protected.
Nestled near the towns of Castella and Dunsmuir, and close to the PCT’s intersection with Interstate 5, the newly-preserved Girard Ridge offers breathtaking views of the region’s natural wonders. The granite spires of Castle Crags, the Trinity Alps, and the majestic Mount Shasta can be admired from this vantage point.
The Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) worked hand in hand with Trust for Public Land to secure the property, with crucial funding assistance from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund. This valuable addition now becomes a part of the esteemed Shasta-Trinity National Forest.
“The PCT has long had a special relationship with this region of Northern California,” said PCTA Acting CEO and Executive Director Megan Wargo. “The neighboring communities—towns like Dunsmuir, Mount Shasta, and McCloud—have always been favorites for PCT hikers, and they offer great access for anyone looking to experience the Pacific Crest Trail for shorter trips or first-time use. We appreciate our partnerships with Trust for Public Land and the Shasta-Trinity National Forest and are excited that even more of this extraordinary region and the trail are now permanently protected.”
The past years have witnessed the increasing impacts of climate change along the PCT. Destructive wildfires and extreme weather events have at times caused extensive damage, leading to the closure of hundreds of trail miles. Escalating temperatures and severe droughts have also raised concerns over the availability of water sources for hikers. Additionally, bark beetle infestations have taken a toll on millions of trees in the forests lining the trail.
These challenges, alongside the potential for development on approximately 10% of the PCT corridor’s private lands, highlight the pressing need for the full protection of the entire trail corridor.
The success of each land conservation effort brings the vision of a fully protected Pacific Crest Trail closer to reality. The unwavering support from the community for the PCTA’s Land Protection program has resulted in the permanent protection of over 30 miles of the PCT and more than 22,000 acres of surrounding lands since 2015. While much work remains to safeguard all threatened lands along the PCT, the Girard Ridge acquisition marks another significant milestone in creating a larger, safeguarded landscape for generations to come.