Big Pines Trail is a 3km loop that is great for beginners. The trail is not strenuous and it doesn’t ascend any significant elevation. An experienced person could probably finish it in 1.5 hours, meanwhile beginners could take 2-2.5 hours. The Big Pines parking lot is a safe place to park, and the trail is regularly used/maintained in the winter. If an emergency occurs on the trail you could expect a reasonable EMS response time.
As the name of the trail suggests, this trail features some enormous pine trees. This is the definite highlight of the trail. If you’re a photography nerd like me, bring a wide angle lens, a fisheye lens, or just use Panorama mode on your cell phone to get some really creative photos of the big pines. The enormity of the trees is a delight to photograph, it makes for some fun photography.
The next feature of the trail is an old lumber camp. These primitive exhibits are fenced off and identified. Unfortunately, in the winter snow I honestly wasn’t able to observe the lumber camp ruins, so now I have a great excuse to visit this trail in a warmer season without snow! If you’re a history buff this is a definite bonus on Big Pines Trail.
Shortly after viewing the lumber camp you get some excellent views of a wetland. This could be an ideal wildlife viewing area in the spring. In the winter time I had a lot fun making panoramas of the desolate landscape.
In summary, Big Pines is a safe and easy trail conveniently located along Highway 60. After several hundred people walk the trail the snow gets “packed down” and I don’t consider this a “deep snow” snowshoe experience. For this reason it isn’t as physically exhausting as Lookout Trail or Beaver Pond, trails that will experience less traffic and more deep snow.
I hope you enjoy the trail! If you need winter gear, Bongopix rents snowshoes in Whitney, 5 minutes from the East Gate!