27 December 2008

Red Rock

Los Padres National Forest

Locate the trail head.

We drove to the end of Paradise Road to stop by Red Rock for a little hiking. It turned out to be very short, indeed. We only went a little way up the river before returning. I stopped by the rock that attracts many people and sketched before we left again.

A bit of the large rock in the river.
The top of the large red rock in the river.

more red rock with salt
Red layers of rock with a bit of salt or lime.

green mountains
Green mountain sides surround the red rocks.

sketch of the rocks
A sketch of the big, red rocks of the river.

Afterward, we stopped by Nojoqui Falls since it had rained recently, but were disappointed with the flow that didn't seem to have improved with the rain.

©2008,2012 Valerie Norton
Posted 16 September 2012

30 November 2008


Open air sketches for the month.

The city poking out of the haze while hiking up the old toll road.

Antennas on the mountain top.

Top: south view.  Bottom: northwest view.  From near the top.

Some of the turtles on campus.

16 November 2008

Mount Woodson

from Lake Poway, nearish La Jolla

Locate the trailhead.

I only drove to La Jolla, so can't say how to get there, but Lake Poway is on the map. It's a short trail, but can get hot so we meant to head off quite early. We did manage to get around to going downhill before it started to feel particularly hot. They've certainly put together a lot of trails for a place that hadn't had a trail until 1980, but there's usually trail signs, too.

The view going up the mountain, already the ocean and islands can be seen.
Not quite the first view of ocean along the trail. I'm told this wasn't particularly visible until fire came through a few years ago.

There were a few funky shaped bits of pink granite around. It seemed to be turning into shells, in a way, in places. Besides this one, the top features a wave of stone everyone but me was taking photos of.

California's weak pink granite falling into huge flakes.
The local pink granite, a rock that isn't as much harder than the local sandstone as expected.

09 November 2008

Henninger Flat

Angeles National Forest

Locate the trailhead.

The old way to Henninger Flats is to start at the bottom of the Mt. Wilson Toll Road and walk up. The road has a gate on it that is only open sunrise to sunset but now hasn't been open for years because a large section of the road, visible from the gate, has been removed by a landslide. With the traffic of people who go up the mountain from around here, it might be expected to have a good trail bed again, but it does not.

Since the gate never opens, one must start in at some other location or trespass. If the sunrise to sunset time limit is no problem, then the Eaton Canyon lot is a good starting spot. If not, between the two is a small dirt lot along Altadena Dr. Either way, the reason there hasn't been a good trail bed made by the passage of people is because there's another way up using the Eaton Canyon trail directly across the riverbed. From the lot on Altadena, one may have to go east a little to get to it.

Of course, I didn't know this when I started. I knew the bridge for the road was a short ways up the river so followed the trail to Eaton Canyon falls as far as it and then turned to cross the area of landslide. I saw one other person do it as I came up and met two more as I did it, so there is still some traffic across this loose dirt. It must be admitted that this is the more pleasant way up since it is all easy road grade.

LA and Altadena, Pasadena is hidden by the palm (and other) tree.
The trail climbs the south side of the mountain, so LA, Pasadena, Altadena and an increasing array of other places are all visible from the very first bit of elevation, at least on a clear day. It's early afternoon, but winter hours, so the sun is already a little low in the sky.

31 October 2008


Outside sketches of the month.

Apartment in downtown Pasadena.

Colorado and Wilson, Pasadena. (From my photo.)

Old fireproof warehouse for the long gone trains. (From my photo.)

A tree and hitching post by the campground.

25 October 2008

Grizzly Flat

Angeles National Forest

Locate the trailhead.

handy map at the trailhead
A handy map to the trailhead found at the end of the road which is not, according to the map, where the trail starts.

Grizzly Flat is a short way up the north end of the Dark Canyon trail. The south end starts in Oakwilde, about 4 miles up Arroyo Seco starting near JPL. It is marked with one of those flat, brown stick signs, but rather than simply saying "trail" as they normally do, it is well marked with promises that the trail further on through Dark Canyon is unmaintained and likely to take your life if you try to travel along it. The north end, in contrast, starts about a mile along Big Tujunga, which is reportedly difficult to pass in high water, and doesn't really have a trail along it from the road. It is true that the route is difficult to determine among all the choices for the first section along the creek, but it is easy to find as it heads upward away from the water. From there is is well maintained trail bed all the way to the fire roads higher up.

top of the watertower at Grizzly Flat, and it says so
A good sign you've made it to Grizzly Flat to find a water tank marked as such.

04 October 2008

Upper Rancho Oso

Los Padres National Forest

Locate the trailhead.

Going down Paradise road to Red Rock, there is a fork in the road at lower Rancho Oso where the left side goes up to Upper Rancho Oso. Mom and I took a small hike up this trail to see what was on it. Turns out, there's a lot of people with dirt bikes on it since they are allowed on the fire road that makes up the first part of the trail. However, within the first mile of the road, there's a trail going off to the left. This one does not allow any vehicles, off road or otherwise, and the sounds of bikes vanished as we proceeded down it.

The trail was quite delightful. There was a spot along it where the cliff had eroded into a big bowl and the sounds of the creek were amplified so that as you approached it, you weren't sure if there wasn't more water coming down off the side until you could see. As we approached, some hikers were standing in it talking and their rumbling amplified voices were carried quite far. Perhaps this is the place for someone to do Shakespeare in the Back Woods.

We weren't looking for a long hike since we were starting very late, so the two miles or so up to something called Nineteen Oaks Camp seemed like a good destination. As we followed the trail, we soon came to a sign pointing the way right up the hill for the last bit up to the camp.

The beat up sign.
A split sign points the way to the campground. Actually, it points back the way we came implying we've missed it, but there's something that looks more like a usage trail taking an initially steep trek up the hill. Suspiciously, the usage trail appears to have improvements suggesting it isn't a usage trail after all.

The trail to the campground climbed right out of the small canyon the trail was following and right into fantastic view.

Back the way we came.
Looking north(ish), back the way we came up from the stream, this is the view.

The campground was also quite delightful. As most of the area is set up for use with horses, there were hitching posts here. The site looks like it is meant for big groups and was spacious enough to still allow small groups to find a nice place when a large group is using it. It would make a wonderful destination if the point of the trip is just to get away from electricity.

On down the valley.
Looking back down the valley, the way we've come from mostly, this is the view.

©2008,2009 Valerie Norton
Posted 26 May 2009

31 August 2008

Reyes Peak

Los Padres National Forest

Locate the trailhead.

When everyone else went on down the mountain, I went further up it to see if I could get to the peak. The road did not actually go there although it was rather obscured by other details on the forest map. There was a trailhead instead. A short way down the trail splits one side heading off to one side of the mountain, the other to the other side of the mountain and a usage trail splitting the difference heading up the mountain.

I met a man walking along with his kids that looked like they weren't more than five coming down the usage trail. He said that the trail started off quite steep but got quite flat above. Although I didn't actually see little footprints all the way up, it was pretty good for a usage trail. It was especially good for a usage trail that travels along a ridge passing about four false peaks.

It looked like a lot of people don't actually get all the way up to the peak. There was a wide, flat spot that looked like a good place to camp, even for a very large group, along the way and the trail was a bit hard to follow through there. After that, it was much smaller and apparently less traveled. Also, the tiny footprints could no longer be found in the dirt.

The highest peak of Pine Mountain is Reyes Peak. It is 7514ft. up and not particularly bald. The peak itself is rounded pink sandstone. At the top, there once stood some sort of structure. Pieces of it remain, but I was unable to determine what it was. Almost all of the nearby pines looked quite young.

Somewhat twisted thing made of metal, this still a single, connected piece.
A twisted bit of metal that seems to be all connected. It didn't quite look like a cot, I can't figure out what it is.

Pink rocks at the top of the otherwise not so bald peak.
The top of the mountain, the pink sandstone, a few trees and bushes around at this height (7514ft.) to block the view some, and some anchors for whatever once resided on the top.

More great rocks, a little left over of what was once built, and the fantastic view beyond.
A little more mountain top, old cabin? lookout?, and the great view beyond.

Raspberry Spring

Los Padres National Forest

Locate the trailhead.

We spotted the sign for Raspberry Spring on our way to Chorro Spring the day before. It was a little way down the hill on the near side of Reyes Peak campground where trailhead parking could easily be mistaken for campsite parking since a campsite was also there. The trail was a little harder to see from the road but easy enough from the sign. It is only 0.4 miles down to the spring.

Finding the spring itself proved a little harder. We came upon a campsite, since this is also a campsite like the other spring complete with campfire grills, and then another one but didn't see a way off to a spring or any sign of a spring. I followed an animal trail a little ways figuring it would go to the spring. It probably did in the other direction but I found a third site up from the animal trail a little way instead. Then I found myself at the first site again and spotted a people trail that headed to the spring.

The spring on this side is a little smaller. Very little of it looks to be flowing out. It still comes out of the pipe someone stuck in it long ago and fills a barrel that still has a few slats in it. A second pipe had just enough water in it to drip a few drops when lowered.

The spring as it is first seen including one of its namesake vines.
Raspberry Spring as it is first seen by hikers on the small trail from the campground to the spring. Part of an old barrel still stands playing at catching the water.

Raspberry Spring in all its glory.
Raspberry Spring from the other side, you can see the pieces of barrel in a hole dug long ago that catches the spring water from an old pipe. On the far side, some sort of overflow pipe would have taken the water away too. A few raspberries can be seen near it.

On the way back up, I spotted this odd tree.

Tree with a sudden semicircle in its trunk.
A tree along the trail. It seems to have a sudden semicircle in its trunk like it's actually hinged.

And there's also nice views, this time to the north instead of the south.

Lockwood Valley from along the trail to Raspberry Spring.
There seems to be a lot more view to look out over to the north.

©2008 Valerie Norton
Posted 2 September 2008

30 August 2008

Chorro Spring

Los Padres National Forest

Locate the trailhead.

The trail down to Chorro Spring started at the far end of Reyes Campground. It had a large road sign to mark it so was easy to find. The first few feet looked like road and had a road block on it, but shortly after that it was only trail sized. The trail actually goes past Chorro Spring to Oak campground and then on to 33.

On the way to the trail head, we found a former bee hive.

A large hole in a tree where the remnents of honeycomb is visible.
A little bit of honeycomb is still visible in the hole that was once occupied by a bee hive. The hole still smells strongly of honey, too.

Reyes Peak area (camping)

Los Padres National Forest

Chorro Spring | Raspberry Spring | Reyes Peak

We headed out looking for a place to camp. The main plan was somewhere on up highway 33 near Wheeler Gorge. First we looked for a spot in the valley, but the Gorge campground itself was full with people reserving spots and had weird rules for weekends. Middle Lion and Rose Valley were both quite full when we went by, so we climbed the mountain. Dropping into Pine Mountain and found one site empty. I dropped off my passengers to hold it and wait for the second car while going up to see if there was something in Reyes Peak, our preferred spot, but there wasn't. It was quite nice, though, and I found the trail down to Chorro Grande.

After setting up and getting ourselves fed lunch, we headed over to Chorro Spring on foot. Then back for lovely dinner and a bit of star gazing. The stars were nice and crisp and plentiful.

Then along came the very annoying not quite teenagers who felt the need to drink all night and tear down bits of trees to keep their fire going. Since it was green wood, of course they had to keep squirting lighter fluid on it, besides that made it jump up in fun ways. Meanwhile, there had to be music. Boring rap music for the most part. Eventually they fell asleep.

In the morning we had a lovely breakfast of pancakes which worked surprisingly well. They had wonderful crunchy edges and were nice and light and there was even real maple syrup to douse them in although some had them with the peanut butter or jam that was meant for lunch. Then our neighbors woke up and started up some more music and burning wood and even drinking.

Most of us climbed the hill north of the campground to have a little time to ourselves. Reading or talking or painting. Coming back, the music was like a dreary roar. Shortly after that, though, is when the ranger came by and the music went off. An extensive lecture followed, as did supervised fire burying. Information was collected and they were sent on their way. Unfortunately they might not even be fined, but it was entertaining to watch all the same.

We completed packing up in blissful silence. We got the lunch stuff ready for a picnic and headed to Raspberry Spring on the other side of the ridge. It took a little looking to find the spring instead of just the campground, but we managed. We had our lunch and hiked back up.

I wanted to go to the end of the road and maybe up to the actual peak that they road may or may not get to. The rest didn't really want to and since they were all going back to Pasadena and I was headed up to Santa Barbara for another day afterward, we parted. I got to the end of the road and found it did not actually go to the top, so had to hike the rest of to way to Reyes Peak.

Then it was on up to Santa Barbara to see my uncle while he was still in town.

©2008 Valerie Norton
Posted 2 September 2008

28 June 2008

Arroyo Seco to Switzer Falls

Angeles National Forest

Locate the trailhead.

Fellows who claim to have hiked it before claimed Arroyo Seco connects with Switzer trail for a total of about 8 miles of hiking.  The sign at the turnoff to the bottom of the dam would seem to imply the same thing, although maybe it's 8.5 instead of 8.  The map shows the trails connecting.  A brilliant plan would be to hike up the 6 or 7 miles to the bottom of the falls instead of hiking down only 2 miles to the same.  It would be just long enough and probably not too long.

Unfortunately, it is 9 miles to the bottom of the falls.  As the sign where the trail I was on met up with the trail I'd been on said, it is 8.5 miles to "Altadena".  It is at least a quarter mile to the falls from there.  Ignoring that signs further down claim you are going to "Pasadena" and I'm fairly certain that's "La Canada Flintridge" anyway since it's next to JPL, that's a bit of a longer distance than implied by all the other signs.  Also, why hadn't I noted it?  I guess I do go up to Oakwilde more often.

So now everything from the middle of my back down each has a special kind of hurt that will truly be flaring pain come tomorrow.

Still, it started out very nice.  I was on my own, so I could go along the trail spurs.  I wandered along one that more closely followed the old road that once went up to the Oakwilde resort (I think) and still kind of goes to a small campground that once had a camp host.  I went along a picnic area that ended up paralleling the road and rejoining.  I found out that apparently a bridge was out, closing the trail, but that's silly since we have to cross so many other places ourselves.  Everyone just went around.

I went along the trail through Paul Little picnic area, which actually has a toilet, and kept on going right to the bottom of the dam.  Climbing up the side of the canyon to get past this dam represents the only hard portion of the trail up to Oakwilde.  Standing right below it is quite scary.  I have never seen a dam so high from just the other side of the pool made by the water falling over it.  Never one so absolutely strait up, either.  There's probably a design flaw there.  And way at the top it says 1942.  Maybe it's the long gone bridges dated 1940.  I think it's the design flaw that makes it scary.  Such a tall, flat wall that is holding back water all the way to the top spilling over.  The other side is filled with debris, I think, but you don't know that standing at the bottom.  Anyway, I'd never actually gone and seen it.

The level of water was quite low.  The fords above the footbridge that marks the last proper bridge were all dry with the water happily all flowing under in a pipe.  Some of the crossings above the dam were also dry, but there's a lot of loose stone there and I've seen it suck up all the water before.

Above Oakwilde was fresh territory.  Soon after the camp, there's a table at a named "rest area".  The trail was good except for a little of the result of being traveled mostly by mountain bike.  Little slides had been pounded down into slanted trail-bed, especially on the inside turns.  Still, it got better quickly.  It doesn't cross the creek much above the old camp right up until the trail down from Switzers.

Instead of going up Arroyo Seco as I'd expected, the trail took a tributary for a while.  Eventually the tributary seemed to be getting quite steep and switchbacks appeared.  Then the trail finally started climbing up the ridge finally giving a fresh view into Arroyo Seco.  As expected since this had taken so much longer than the 2 miles it should have according to the signs, the trail soon came into the junction, but not really soon enough.

Waterfall was achieved.  There was even a bit of water coming down.  The old trees are still cluttering up the pool.  I sat in the crook of one that looked very chairlike for a while.  Then suspicious that with the extra miles I couldn't stay long, I packed up again.  By the time I got to Oakwilde, the massive contingent of boy scouts who almost got their first group out as I left had made it up and were having dinner.  They crowded all the tables there.

The rest is just trudging because by this time I felt ready to finish and I still had those extra 4 miles to go.  Not to mention that the last three that should have been the last three I'd done are actually quite easy miles.  The last 2 according to the absolutely wrong sign at the bottom of the hill to climb over the dam.

And then I get home and now I hurt and I really should find something more substantial to eat.  And there's a massive blister on my foot where the insole of the shoe rubbed me way too much although I hadn't noticed that bit being more painful than the rest before.  Ow ow ow.

No pictures because I couldn't seem to find my camera.  Or the other boots that I'd actually wanted to wear.  You'll just have to piece together old pictures from Switzer and Arroyo Seco if you want to see what the area is like.  None of my Arroyo Seco pictures are of quite so low water.  Nor the Switzer though I have seen it that low.

(From my journal entry on the day.)

31 May 2008

San Ysidro

Santa Barbara Front Country

Locate the trailhead.

For a short hike with a little bit of water falling at the end, we selected to wander a little way up San Ysidro Trail just behind Montecito, oddly close to the road by the same name. Although then there was a right at East Valley Rd. and a left at Park Lane and keeping right at a Y with East Mountain Dr. after turning north on San Ysidro. The road ends at the trail since someone has decided the rest should be a private road these days.

The trail meanders past a few houses and then follows the road shortly before going back to the more general trail-ish style of travel. The trail follows a stream along up the mountain.

A bit of stream along the trail.
A bit of stream along the trail.

13 April 2008

Rubio Canyon

Angeles National Forest

Locate the trailhead.

One day short of a year from the last go, and we're off again. Well, fewer than before. We're out to see the falls and the day is just a bit clearer. As we went up the canyon, there was actually water along the bottom, we could hear it. Also, we could see it for a short bit where it came up in the litter of rocks at the bottom when the trail hits there.

We powered our way right on past the first waterfall and up the canyon on the side looking to see where we could get to. Instead of going along the first trail to the left, we kept going up the bottom of the steep, narrow canyon. Further up there was another trail going off toward the various falls that are promised to be up there. Now anyway.

Up and up and up we went. Finally there was a low road that looked at least as well traveled as the one still heading straight up. What we found was a big waterfall.

100+ foot falls.  Once, anyway.
Thelehaha (top) and Roaring Rift (below) falls: Beyond where we got to last year is a very tall waterfall. By the accounts of the climbers, I've missed a couple waterfalls between here and lunch last time.

10 February 2008

Vogel Flat area

Angeles National Forest

When I got back from the Condor Peak hike, it had gotten quite dark and the moon was overhead. I played with the camera a little bit.

Cresent moon in the night sky. Just letting the camera choose its own speed, the moon is easy to see. I was holding the camera against the car to try to get this at first. Since the shutter isn't open so long, it almost worked. Result was generally fuzzier than this.
Same ol' moon. After playing with night mode, I tried again with this normal picture setting but this time making it pause for a long time between the press of the shutter and the photo so I could take my hands away from the camera before the picture was taken leaving it just resting against something. Plants, in this case, which isn't ideal.
Longer exposure of the moon, zoomed, so that the dark areas are also a little bright. In between I played with the "night mode" which seemed to open the shutter for about six seconds. This turned out to be too long to try to hold the camera, even braced against something. That's when I found the plant to hold the camera for me. There's some fun moon smears from the efforts to hold the camera. This one is zoomed in so there's no mountains as well.
Longer exposure of the moon, not zoomed in so the edges of the mountains below can be made out from the little bit of light left behind the mountains.
Without the camera zoomed, the mountains were also in the frame. There was still a little bit of light coming from behind them so they can be made out in the long exposure that is "night mode".

©2008 Valerie Norton
Posted 23 February 2008

Condor Peak (initially trying Mount Gleason)

Mount Gleason

Angeles National Forest

Taking off for a nice drive and a little hike, I headed for Mount Gleason. Which hopefully wouldn't be too high for snow. The plan was to take the trail down from Deer Spring, which goes along the canyon I hiked last week.

The road is off the old crest highway. Even though the local mountains aren't so high, a few were obviously a little splotched with snow especially on the north side of the mountains. As the road wound up, it quickly gathered its own splotches nearby. They seemed to get thicker and then as the road passed into a north side slope it became clear it had been plowed.

So it's looking good for getting to the trail, but not so good on actually traveling down it. Luckily it is down and a southern slope, so it might be okay. On the other hand, a canyon will generally keep snow longer. Anyway, see when I get there.

But I didn't get there. Turns out the road is only plowed to "County Camp No 16" which is also where the pavement goes, but that is not the way the public is allowed to go. The public follows the dirt bypass road to the left which the plow parked to the right has not gone down. Little Scion wasn't going to make it over the foot or so of snow and it wasn't likely to be plowed again on the other side.

The view south over the city from Mount Gleason.
But it is pretty. The view south from Mt. Gleason, looking out over the city, though none of it is actually visible under a blanket of fog.

02 February 2008

Trail Canyon Trail

Angeles National Forest

Locate the trailhead.

Myself and a crew of one decided to head up to Trail Canyon to see the waterfall about two miles along. He offered to drive up there, but I knew he wouldn't like to have his car on the last bit of road so I insisted on driving. When we got out he confirmed that he wouldn't have wanted to drive down that road and I probably shouldn't either. Unfortunately for my car, my philosophy is that it exists to get me where I want to go, and if that means a rough but passable road, then that is what it will go down. There is some parking at the start of the road for those who do not wish to beat up their cars, but I have rarely seen it used. The public road stops just before the first crossing of the creek. I could only recall crossing the creek a couple times on the first trip up this canyon, this first crossing being one of those times. It was the hardest crossing, and the current water level made it especially difficult. The current water level also made the far more than a couple crossings after it quite obvious. We worked our way up the canyon, crossing the creek over and over and over again, eventually making that last crossing and started climbing up out of the canyon heading for the top of the waterfall.

waterfall view from atop the higher trail
After climbing, the trail turns a corner to reveal the waterfall below it.

02 January 2008

Rattlesnake Canyon

Santa Barbara front country

Locate the trailhead.

Somewhere along the windy bit that is Las Canoas Road off of Mission Canyon Road is Skofield Park and Rattlesnake Canyon, which is apparently part of Skofield Park.

Sign starting the trail up Rattlesnake Canyon in Santa Barbara's front country.
Start of the trail up Rattlesnake Canyon. Well, the one one the west side of the creek, anyway.

This trail is an old standby from childhood. That is, we must have been on the start of this thing at least a dozen times. As is typical of front country trails, continuing on the trail can be a challenge at times. A little ways up, the trail goes straight while a bulldozer width trail turns right up the hillside. It goes a short way up to a road and fencing and, believe it or not, a bulldozer. There's an okay view from it too.

Seminary and city below.
A short offshoot of trail leads to a view of some of the city below and St. Mary's Seminary.

01 January 2008

hikes of 2008

 Rattlesnake Canyon, Santa Barbara front country: Jan 2

 Trail Canyon Trail, Angeles National Forest: Feb 2

 Condor Peak and some Mt. Gleason, Angeles National Forest: Feb 10

 Rubio Canyon, Altadena front country: Apr 13

 San Ysidro, Santa Barbara front country: May 31

 Arroyo Seco to Switzer Falls, Los Padres National Forest: Jun 28

 Chorro Spring, Los Padres National Forest: Aug 30

 Raspberry Spring, Los Padres National Forest: Aug 31

 Reyes Peak, Los Padres National Forest: Aug 31

 Upper Rancho Oso, Los Padres National Forest: Oct 4

 Grizzly Flat, Angeles National Forest: Oct 25

 Henninger Flat, Angeles National Forest: Nov 9

 Mt. Woodson from Lake Poway, San Diego County: Nov 16

 Red Rock, Los Padres National Forest: Dec 27

View hikes 2008 in a larger map

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