15 July 2007

Devils Canyon

Angeles National Forest

Locate the trailhead.

Today's grand escapade was found about 27 miles up highway 2 just the other side of Upper Chilao Campground. Well signed and even with a bathroom, we came to...

Road sign for trail to Devils Canyon.
Here be Devils Canyon. Well, on down the trail a while, actually.

Devils Canyon! Um, trail. The actual canyon is at the end of the trail as most of it is going down a tributary.
And so we headed out into the San Gabriel Wilderness. Also we met our first set of backpackers.

San Gabriel Wilderness starts just the other side of the road.
The San Gabriel Wilderness starts just the other side of the road from the parking.

The trail starts at the top, not to my usual tastes, and drops down. This can lead one to worry about being able to get back up but also means the canyon is laid out before us as we start.

Overlooking Devils Canyon from above as the trail starts out.
The view looking down into Devils Canyon as seen from above at the start of the trail.

Off to the left is tree filled tributary that looks like a highly attractive place to hike except it is so steep. The bit of trail we are on quickly finds trees anyway and stays mostly shady throughout.

Tiny tributary filled with trees.
A tree filled tributary to the tributary seen on the far slope looks attractive if a little steep.

Although we still get trees, the hillside is quite parched further along. We met a couple more sets of backpackers. One set seemed to think carrying a tent was preferable to just strapping it on. It wasn't a very backpacker friendly tent.

The slopes along the canyon.
The slopes along the canyon.

The canyon itself had very little water in it, but the trees hinted there might be some hidden away below. It is quite well hidden most of the way so there's just a dry stream bed.

We met our last couple of... what can liberally be called backpackers. They had day packs and one was carrying a slumber bag by hand. We found out soon after that the other one had also, but had abandoned it and a pillow a little way down the trail. One the way up we found that the second bag had been abandoned shortly after we met them. You'd think this was Everest. Don't trash the wilderness!

It looks like it might always be dry from here.
This bit of the canyon looks like it might always be dry.

There was one spot of very narrow canyon, so this trail wouldn't be good if the stream were ever roaring away. For now, though, the most to see is the poison oak in beautiful fall colors.

Narrow part of the dry canyon decorated with fall colored poison oak.
A narrow portion of the canyon delicately colored for the fall in poison oak.

Down at the end of the trail is a campground with fire pit and lots of flat area for camping. From there a mountain peaks over the nearby hills.

Waterman Mountain? One of the Twin Peaks?
Down in the canyon a mountain can be seen. Maybe Waterman or one of the Twin Peaks?

Near the camp we got the second glimpse of actual water proving that there is some down there somewhere. The first glimpse was a small pool quite a ways up the trail that could have been stagnant since we could see nothing headed in or out of it. These pools had a dribble flowing out from one to the next.

Water source at the trail camp.
Near the trail camp, small pools of water can be found. Even a slight flow could be detected from one pool to the other although the source was hard to find.

We decided to head back upstream to see where this might have come from. There was another canyon that had just joined so maybe it was actually there.

More of the water at the trail camp.
More pools further upstream nearby the trail camp.

Then Sarah's sharp eyes spotted this little cutie curled up in the bypass of that boulder to the right. And so the search for the headwaters was called off.

One tiny little rattlesnake, tightly coiled on a rock in the shade.  Note the size of the leaves and the pine cone next to it.
Baby snake with the zoom.  Not going near that little kid!
Tightly coiled on a rock in the shade, Sarah spotted a baby rattlesnake. See how big it is next to the leaves? We weren't going anywhere near this kid. It never moved while we looked.

And so we go back the way we came.

Off to the north.
Ceder trees and the northerly view.

One last view of the creek here. Odd how the trees closest to it seem to be dead.

Just a little further upstream of the last two.
Upstream view into Devils Canyon above where our canyon joined it.

Apparently this is bristle cone pine area. They were quite large compared to their legendary cousins. This small specimen was clinging to the rock, but most of them were quite nearly of ordinary pine size, especially for the area.

Giant compared to some bristlecone, this one is small for the area because it's got to work so hard when on this cliffside.
The area is supposed to have bristlecone pine and this is probably a specimen of the tree. It's small for the area since it has to work so hard on the cliff-side, but much larger than I think of for this sort of tree.

Heading back out, there's that little hill again. From lower down, this time.

Devils Canyon again, from closer to down in the canyon.
Looking down over Devils Canyon again but further down the in the canyon.

Off to the right, an old slide shows the roots of some of the trees.

Roots in the side of the hill.
The hillside has slid away to show off the tree roots underground.

And this is the view off to the left.

What lies east.
The view to the east.

Thus we made it back to the top, none the worse for the wear. The way up was a bit warm, but not too hot. Still lots of shade along the way although it was more noticeable in this direction that the shade covered only a fourth of the trail or so. It was still nicely spaced out so there was no long section without any shade.

Sarah after the hike.
Sarah upon finishing the hike. Dirty feet for traveling in (nearly) new sandals she's decided are great for walking long distances in.

After we went to the visitor center just around the corner in an attempt to finally get a map of the San Bernardino National Forest, however it seems funding isn't currently at a level to staff a visitor center on the weekend.

© 2007 Valerie Norton
Posted 15 July 2007
Last updated 5 August 2007

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