Let's Camp: Guffy Campground, Angeles National Forest
We are seriously planners. Most of the time, we way over plan our trips. One of the things that I (Kim) like most about our adventures thus far is that it has made us more spontaneous. Living in Southern California, there are so many national parks, state parks, forests and other wilderness areas to explore within driving distance. We've ended up, most of the time, having no plans before Wednesday night - maybe just a few ideas for the weekend. Sometimes this can be frustrating, but it has given us flexibility and has been a big learning curve in our adventures. For Memorial Day weekend, we didn't plan. We didn't book a campsite. We just had a rough idea to go to an area of the Angeles National Forest, around Wrightwood, and find a campsite.
Not a great idea for a holiday weekend, huh? Needless to say, we did find one available site at one of the campgrounds ran by a third party. The spot we could get was not technically a full site, and was shared with management. The rest of the campground was full of RV's and it was just a little cramped - and we definitely would've been pitching the tent on a slope. So we decided to risk it, and head up further into the mountains and see if we could find something a little more primitive. We stopped by the closed ranger station and got a region map from one of their outdoor info boxes. We saw a couple campgrounds were located off of a dirt road not too far away and figured that would be our best bet for a last minute spot in the woods.
We followed Blue Ridge Road for 6 miles from the turn-off from Angeles Crest Highway. The road was a reasonable dirt road for AWD or 4WD. You climb under the ski lifts and through the paths of what will later be snowed in ski slopes. You eventually pass through Blue Ridge Campground, which is also a nice option along the way. We pushed on, another mile and half or so, which got considerably rougher. We definitely recommend a high-clearance, AWD/4WD for this end of the road, even though there were a couple of sedans around the camp.
After a bumpy 6 mile drive, we pulled into the little loop that is Guffy Campground. Only 6 sites, no water, vault toilets, fire rings, picnic tables... and views for miles from certain places. There is no campground fee but you do need to display an Adventure Pass to camp here, so be sure to put that in your window. Rangers do come through to check on things, despite the remoteness of this campground. The Pacific Crest Trail runs right nearby, so expect to see some thru-hikers - we had the pleasure of meeting a few and helping a gentleman out with some water refills. He was expecting a water source here, but there isn't one - so we refilled his bottles with our extra. Definitely plan to hit the trails here - it's worth a walk to see the surrounding Sheep Mountain Wilderness Areas. There are some great hiking options that lead out right from this campground and will provide you with some amazing views.
We went for a fairly brief 4 mile roundtrip hike, from the campsite right out onto the PCT. It was a very quiet hike, with some excellent views. With such a great trail so close, don't skip out on taking a hike - long or short - while you are on top of this hill!
One thing that we were not prepared for was ending up at a campsite at 8,300 feet. We packed for lower elevations, and ended up bundling up in anything we could find to stay warm. We were very grateful for the fire pit to keep us as warm as we could! Pack a little better than us if you head up here! It gets chilly! Also, be sure to check the current fire restrictions. Due to the ongoing drought in California, fire restrictions get serious in areas like this.
This was a great camping trip for us - we loved this area. It's great to spread out at a campsite, with not too many neighbors, all of whom are also tent camping. It was a very quiet campground, and was just perfect for our weekend getaway.
While this campground is now closed for the season because of all the snow, we are planning at least a few trips up here next summer for some perfect mountain camping and hiking.