A Spectacular Section of the Pacific Crest Trail Is Now Protected for Good

Girard Ridge and its surrounding terrain will become part of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.

Photo: PatrickPoendl / iStock via Getty

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A little more of the Pacific Crest Trail is public forever. The Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) and the Trust for Public Land recently announced the acquisition of 1,172 acres of land in northern California that protects Girard Ridge, a 2.5-mile segment of the PCT that will now become part of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. 

Located near Castella and Dunsmuir, this section of the PCT is well-known for its soaring views. Hikers travel from all around the country to peer into the Sacramento River Canyon from a height of nearly 5,000 feet. The new land designation significantly reduces the threat of large-scale logging, mining and road development. 

“The PCT has long had a special relationship with this region of Northern California,” said the PCTA’s 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.” 

Climate change and urban development on private lands currently threaten more than 10% of the PCT, which is driving the PCTA’s urgency in land acquisition. The PCTA and Trust for Public Land are in the midst of a multi-decade effort to secure permanent protection for that land. In the past 8 years alone, the organizations have helped protect more than 30 miles of the PCT and 22,000 acres of surrounding land. 

“We have been working diligently for over a decade to help consolidate private lands along this section of the Pacific Crest Trail, placing them back in public hands,” said California’s State Director for Trust for Public Lands, Guillermo Rodriguez. “TPL is proud to have helped protect the experience and scenery for hikers and provide better access for all the public to enjoy Girard Ridge and this section of the PCT.”

From 2023