A nature trail was created at Lightning Ridge because there is a great variety of species on a short trail. The trailhead at Blue Ridge summit (7,360') (Inspiration Point) is the highest nature trail in the area on the Angeles Crest Highway. This is one of the most species-rich trails in the area, because the trail is at the divide between the desert and coast side of the San Gabriel Mountains in the High Country and perhaps due to the profusion of annuals seen after a fire. The trail offers wonderful vistas of the desert with its dry lakes, distant peaks, and mountain canyons, some of which can be enjoyed from two very-well-placed benches. |
The printed guide to the numbered landmark posts, some of which are missing, is sometimes available near the trailhead. Botanical highlights of this trail include: Wind-pruned trees - statuesque Jeffrey pines that have branches only on the side protected from the biting wind here. These trees show the direction and constancy of the cool moist wind being sucked up the canyon by the void left in the atmosphere by the rising hot air on the desert side of the mountains. Rock gardens with brightly colored lichens and flowers growing out of the crevices. The moisture brought by the up-canyon winds keeps the lichen wet enough to grow here.
A forest of black oak, a forest for all seasons: cool and green in the summer, golden in the fall, black silhouettes in the winter and pink new growth in the spring. Buckwheat Hill, a rocky slope nearly covered with beautiful matted buckwheats. An ongoing lesson in plant succession after a major fire. The area burned in 1998, and it still contains some of the species that dominate after a fire. The burn may account for the excellent wildflower display here.