31 December 2009


No real hiking in December, but I did go out to the Wilcox Property (or, apparently properly called Douglas Family Preserve) and sketch in a couple spots, as well as take photos that could become more sketches.

The cedar at the end of the point.

The view of the Brown Pelican from by that cedar.

Somewhere in the center along one of the old roads.

30 November 2009


Some attempts at art in open spaces.

The fire lookout that has been moved to Henninger Flat.

Painted up at SBCC while trying to encourage mom to have at it too.  She used to draw a bit, but worries it isn't good.

10 November 2009

Boiling Springs Lake

Warner Valley, Lassen Volcanic National Park

Locate the trailhead.

This was a quick hike late in the day before driving back home. Warner Valley is along a road that goes into the park and stops a bit east of the main road. A sign in Chester pointed the way to the park road. Keeping left, then right brought me to a small parking lot for the Pacific Crest Trail well after the road had turned to gravel. The trail had many junctions but was well signed. Someone had written in "Boiling Lake" on the one sign post that forgot to mention it. The lake itself was a very easy 1.5 mile up the trail which has a loop around it. It's so easy, or maybe the land so cold this time of year, that I was quite comfortable in my thermals the whole way up to the thermal feature.

The road actually goes up to a ranch just past the trailhead. I followed the PCT along through some sloshy grasses and over a small but fast stream to a footbridge across a small but fast river. Above the river, looking down the trail, steam could be seen rising from the grasses. The trail passes along what appears the be the head of a hot spring that is flowing down to where the ranch is though on the other side of the river.

Stream and steam.
Steam rising from a tiny stream bed sourced by a hot spring near my feet and headed on down in the direction of a local ranch.

I came to a sign marking the trail for the loop around the lake and took it even though no lake was yet visible. It turned out there were two places on that side of the lake to turn off for the loop, the second much closer to the lake. I quickly came upon it anyway.

Red dirt shaped by the thermal forces below.
Some bits of the land around the lake take of a funny shape and color. The trail I took avoided walking too near to this, which may or may not be particularly stable.

09 November 2009

Devastated Area

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Locate the trailhead.

I drove around to the far side of the mountain the long way around because the road was closed through the park. The north side of the park doesn't have quite as many features to look at even though the road isn't closed until about 10 miles after the entrance station. It goes up to a parking lot in the Devastated Area, so called for having been destroyed in the most recent eruption. There is a picnic area and small loop with interpretive trail around the various lava rocks that came from the mountain when it blew.

Mt. Lassen about to get whiter.
The north side of the mountain and the land that was cleared by the 1915 eruptions.

Ridge Lakes (more ice)

Lassen Volcanic National Park

These are pictures of the lake ice, which I thought was pretty cool with all its variation, but maybe I just don't see a lot of lake ice.

Incoming ice.
Another look at a small stream of water coming into the lake.

A log frozen into the ice.
A log frozen into the lake and further on, some strange bubbles.

Ridge Lakes

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Locate the trailhead.

I headed up to Lassen to see what I could see. I have not been for quite some time. Being a wintry time, the mountain was covered with snow.

Bump in the land rising high and covered in white.
The southernmost mountain of the Cascades, Mt. Lassen, viewed from the road on the way up to the park but still quite a ways off.

Hanging ice and a little flowing water.
A dribble of water along the roadside in the park has turned into a frozen waterfall with some water still flowing.

01 November 2009

Henninger Flat

Angeles National Forest

Locate the trailhead.

I decided to have an afternoon/evening hike up to Henninger Flats for sunset and drawing and such. There are claims that they are rebuilding the roadway, but it was supposed to start in October and not finish until April or so next year. I didn't check the bottom slide area. I parked along Altadena, as usual, and proceeded down and over the wash area to the start of the horse trail to the road. The horse trail has a little bit of shade, especially at the bottom, which was nice when starting a little after 3PM with the temperature somewhere a smidgen below 90F.

It looks like some repairs have been completed, though. There was no need to snake about the fallen debris near the top of the hike on this go. The roadway was all a smooth and easy hike. I got to the top with about half an hour to sunset. Since I've already done a sunset picture during a previous hike, I opted to sketch the transplanted fire watch tower instead. This left me not entirely in the right place for watching the sunset since the flats themselves are a little hallow in the mountain.

The sun about 20 minutes before setting hides behind the local landscape.
About 20 minutes still to sunset but the colors are starting to pick up and the sun is already behind the local chunks of land.

18 October 2009

Cottonwood Spring

Joshua Tree National Park

Locate the trailhead.

Finally, we stopped for another hike of not too great length. This loop started at Cottonwood Spring and wound around to Mastodon Mine by way of Mastodon Peak. We didn't quite see the mastodon in the peak, but we saw many other shapes in the rocks. This hike wasn't quite so hot as the one in the morning but is at a higher elevation.

Cottonwood spring
We headed out into the desert by way of Cottonwood spring. This is a spring with quite prominent, non-palm trees.

Cholla Cactus Garden

Joshua Tree National Park

Locate the trailhead.

Along the road as the deserts change and the frequency of particular cacti changes, there is a little educational loop through a dense patch of cholla cactus. It turned out these were the delightfully wicked narrow spiny things I'd spotted at that first stop and thought were interesting enough to photograph with the Joshua trees. They didn't look very healthy at that first stop. A few at the second stop looked a little better. In the "garden", they looked very happy and healthy.

landscape of cholla cacti
The cholla cacti were very dense on the patch of land designated as the garden.

49 Palms Oasis

Joshua Tree National Park

Locate the trailhead.

For a morning hike, we went out to see an oasis full of actual desert oasis palm trees. I suppose someone counted them at one point, or at least the ones over a certain size, and found 49 to give the name. We started out maybe a little late, I think it was about 10AM already. It was hot! Hot, I tell you! So hot, the plants aren't green.

red cactus in the sun
Some cacti in the sun. I guess these little ones like to have neighbors, or maybe just lots of arms.

17 October 2009

Keys Viewpoint

Joshua Tree National Park

Locate the trailhead.

After our hike, we went to Keys view, a popular spot for watching the sunset. This is just an overlook, there is no hike up. Out to the southeast, the Salton Sea is clearly visible.

sunset at the viewpoint
Some of our crew watching the sunset.

Lost Horse Mine

Joshua Tree National Park

Locate the trailhead.

After lunch, we rattled down the single lane dirt track to the Lost Horse Mine trailhead past the gate that closes at sunset. The trail winds upward along an old dirt track to the mine in about two miles and continues around in a somewhat longer loop if desired. Signs indicated a fire had been through the year before although we didn't see any natural signs of recent burn.

desert and mountains
Looking out over the desert to the distant mountains near the start of the trail.

Hidden Valley

Joshua Tree National Park

Locate the trailhead.

Hidden valley once served as a natural corral, according to the signs. The rocks completely surrounded the area and dynamite was used originally to open up a route to the inside. Now it is absolutely crawling with rock climbers. The inside serves as a nature trail with many informative signs telling much basic information about the flora and fauna of the area.

A big rock and a fellow atop it.
There was even some information here and there about today's most prevalent fauna, the weekend rock climber.

Joshua Tree National Park

A crew of folk, mostly international students, were going off to Joshua Tree to look about the place and I managed to go along with them. Once there, we quickly found a Joshua Tree to marvel at. Also some other plant life.

A particularly large Joshua tree.
A very large specimen of Joshua tree, which is some sort of yucca and not a tree at all.

10 October 2009

Inspiration Point

Angeles National Forest

Locate the trailhead.

On the first of October, they opened up a few unburned areas in the southern section of the Angeles National Forest. One section is the piece right behind me at the top of Lake. The trail itself isn't actually in the forest until some time just before Echo Mountain but there is no sign so it's difficult to tell exactly. I decided to hike up by Castle Canyon again. The fire road behind the pavilion at Inspiration Point marked the boundary of the open area and, in that immediate area, the burn. After climbing up, I would explore a little by going down the fire road and then taking one of the other trails back down to Echo Mountain.

On the way up, very little burn could be seen. There was a small spot of something that had peeked over the edge of the ridge. The further mountains could be grey with ash or grey with distance.

Going up Castle Canyon, I found the bay I had gathered leaves from last year are still quite safe although the flavor of them isn't as good this year. Toward the top, I spotted the first bit of burn. Eventually, the height afforded views of the mountains behind showing more burn area.

just a little bit of burned land
There isn't much to burn on this side of the mountains. A little bit went up anyway.

local and distant mountains
The mountains in the distance are grey, but the mountains in the distance are always grey eventually.

03 October 2009

Sawmill Mountain area

Angeles National Forest

Locate the trailhead.

With half the southern section of the Angeles Forest burned and all of it closed, it seemed a good time to go exploring in the smaller northern section of the forest. Although small sections of the southern section were opened up just before this, I kept to the plan and found something on the desert side of the mountains. The instructions in Afoot and Afield in Los Angeles County were a little off, so trying to find a small campground off a short dirt road didn't work on the first try. The road to Upper Shake, which the loop goes through, was very shortly after and I was expecting the lower campground to be around it but didn't see anything promising. Turns out the road doesn't like signs, except the one at the bottom. Promising turn offs were unsigned and sometimes locked. The only signs were the occasional "not maintained for low clearance vehicles" which sometimes marked a section on one side and not the other. I found my way back to the road I'd come in on without seeing a campground.

The forest map does show a short dirt road coming out a little short of the one I'd gone up that has a trail headed out the end of it. Trying again, I looked very closely for any indication of an old dirt road headed south and found one, so parked. The start of the dirt road was overgrown. A twisted gate lay on the side of the post it used to lock to and two more posts were set between the posts, but beyond was an unmistakable wide, flat, and gravelly roadbed. In sight, a sign board lay against its supports, anything that had once been on it completely removed by time. Following that found a campground of sorts in that there was a two seated pit toilet so little used it had lost its stink with a single area suitable for a campsite near it. At the far end of the campground, if you can say that about a campground with one site, was a post declaring that here was a trail and these are the people who are allowed to pass on it.

The road in.
The road into the campground, no longer accessible from the main road by vehicle.

31 August 2009


Sketches done in open spaces during the month.

A meander around the zoo must include the elephants.

Another evening stroll in the Henninger Flat direction.

Concessions at the free concerts in Memorial Park.

Not a good day for walking as the Station Fire (behind the Pasadena Library) makes everything sting.

08 August 2009

Eaton Wash

Altadena front country

Haven't been hiking in, um, a while. It must be a month. I could check that here, but that would surely be cheating.

Since the moon is fullish and the moonrise calculator said the moon would be up not too late and I know it's an easy trail to take in the dark, I headed up the way to Henninger Flat around 9PM. Mother Nature seems to have taken into account the actual landscape of the area in calculating when the moon will really rise, so it wasn't actually up until after I'd got to where I was going and had sat for a while.  I had some possible companions, but they decided not to. For one, this was probably for the best since her knee isn't good and the trail at the bottom is steep enough to cause problems with that.

I made rather good time, for me, going up. I parked along Altadena Dr. and got up the trail to the toll road plus a little to where there is a park bench for folks, which is something like a mile up, by 20 to 10. I pondered sketching or not while I nibbled of some snacks. I finally decided I might as well.

Looking out over the various cities from the park bench along Mt. Wilson Toll Road above Eaton canyon, or rather the wash beyond the canyon.

Sketching in the dark is a bit different from the light. It's all bold brush strokes as it's almost as much done by feel as sight. Of course, the lights are all bright pinpricks in the varying levels of black, but I don't have any confidence in getting that done. It's funny that the near lights are always distinct points, the far lights are sometimes large shapes.

02 August 2009

Santa Barbara Zoo

We went off to the zoo.  I didn't have my camera, but mom brought hers and I got to take some photos of the kitties.

There's always something interesting to be found in the Tropical Aviary.

04 July 2009

Echo Mountain

Altadena front country

We hiked up to Echo Mountain to watch the fireworks.  In this case, "we" is a group of 12 people I mostly don't know who are mostly in Abbie's boyfriend's lab.  We met around 4:30PM to head up the trail, probably getting started around 5PM.  Today has been hot and humid and we were quite hot going up.  Eventually we were stopping for every bit of shade we could find.  We ended up one of the first groups up of those aiming to see fireworks.  Most people came as it was getting dark, but we all got to watch the sunset and look around the place in the light.

Bright colors over a dark countryside.

As the day was humid, visibility wasn't great.  This manifested itself mostly in a layer of dingy air over the cities, but it didn't go up very high.  The valleys were quite invisible, but mountains sticking up out of it from time to time seemed perfectly clear.  As the sun faded and the lights went on the distant lights became just a uniform smearing of bright.  Fireworks popped up everywhere.  For the most part they were actually hard to see nearby because the city lights were just as bright.  Some shows were backed by nearby mountains so easy to see.  The Rose Bowl show was not bad to see, and was the main object of attention for the crowd of people also on the mountain top.  More distant shows were easier to see because they also were less likely to seem set against ground lighting.  To some extent it was a strange experience in that we could hear the booms but they were all so far away that the firework that generated the boom was only smoke by the time it could be heard.

I rather liked the fireworks over the random spots that were in the area so distant the lights had become a uniform blur from the heavy air.  The largest of these were the only ones we could see.  They popped up sharp in that field without clarity rising far above the indistinguishable ground.

21 June 2009

Upper Solstice Canyon

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area

Locate the trailhead.

Abbie plus her boy plus a new member of his lab plus her visiting parents and I all went off on a hike down by Malibu. It should be a nice little loop, except for this creep. How he gets away with it so close to Malibu, I have no idea. The trail had been going there long before he bought the property. And he promptly sued his neighbors to force them to give him the same sort of easement the trail has. A clear case of good fences making bad neighbors.

The hike starts at the end of Corral Canyon Road, which heads into the young mountains with many curves and steep drops from highway 1 just "north" of Malibu. The road turns to dirt and gravel and widens into a parking lot just before a gate. The fire road beyond may be used by bicyclists and the various single track trails from the spot may not.

Castro crest, by Castro Motorway.
Castro Motorway continues on from the end of Corral Canyon. We didn't get to see this part of the trek.

14 June 2009

Alder Creek

Angeles National Forest

Locate the trailhead.

Alder Creek is apparently a "trail that was" in the guidebooks even though I found it on the current (Ha! It's getting rather old and out of date. They need to do a new one.) forest map. There seems to be very little to be found about it online. There's a little on it by one Caltech alum who is so often a great source on the local trails. There's also an errata site for Trails of the Angeles that notes you can hike this trail now, but then says it's not particularly interesting. In the 10 years since folks have known it was open, there doesn't seem to have been a lot of interest.

The trail heads both ways from where Upper Big Tujunga Road (Between Angeles Crest and Angeles Forest highways) crosses Alder Creek. There used to be a small lot a hundred feet off, but now it has been blocked by a load of dirt as has all the roadside parking for a quarter mile. One presumes this is to discourage use of the creek area to protect endangered and threatened wildlife. The information I could find says each side is marked by a 4 inch pipe only. I didn't find the one for the downstream side, but didn't look very hard. Next to the one for the upstream side was a small sign asking people not to use the stream side area.

The condition of the trail suggests it gets regular, but light usage. The footprints I saw that still showed tread were all my own. The double line of a single bicycle seemed to be the most recent passage. There were a few spots that the hillside was sliding a bit, but the track of the trail never totally vanished. Brush was generally light, but once in a while it reached out over the trail. There were two spots of unavoidable poison oak, one of them with it making a good try for the faces of hikers.

I parked among a few other cars off the road around a 4.5 mile marker on Upper Big Tujunga and hiked down the road almost to the bridge and mile 4.18. As I went down, I was able to see bits of well established trail along the top edge on the other side of the small canyon with the creek. This assured me that there was a trail. Just before getting to the bridge along the road, I saw the trail marker just a little ways down the hill.

The Alder Creek trail as it heads upstream from Upper Big Tujunga.
The trailhead is marked by a single wide pole with an arrow. I didn't see other markings on the pole but I didn't realize to look. A second sign asks the public to please refrain from disturbing the creek area. Flowers were plentiful in the creek area.

The trail dropped right into the stream bed, crossed ...

Crossing of Alder Creek.
A little bit of water flows in the stream bed where the trail makes its first and only crossing.

31 May 2009

Icehouse Canyon

Angeles National Forest

Locate the trailhead.

Icehouse Canyon is on a right hand straight (the road turns sharply left) just after Baldy Village. To enter the Wilderness some two miles up, you need to get a permit. We also needed a hang tag to hold the Golden Eagle so we were good and let them count us. That didn't make parking any easier on a Sunday morning. Backpackers and early(er) risers had gotten all the real spaces in the large lot, and quite a few of the imaginary ones. I was able to imagine one more spot on the second time around so we weren't so good on the parking but we weren't blocking anything either.

The trail itself goes up at a steady, determined pace. It is about 3.6 miles of constant up. It does not go flat, it does not go down, it just climbs and climbs until it gets to the saddle. There is one junction along the way which is actually just another way up to the saddle but takes about two miles longer to get there. We took this going down, freeing ourselves of most of the crowd.

As with most the area canyons, there's cabins along the way. The first few are actually kept up and populated although there is some evidence that they're not quite all still there. Lost cabins can be seen from time to time a few miles up, but used cabins don't go as far as the first mile.

Often the only thing standing of an old cabin is the chimney.
Once this was someone's cabin, now all that is left is a chimney and a bit of ground that is clear but no longer flat.

As we got up near the end of the densest area of cabins, we started seeing many lady bugs on the plants. A little further and we found what we thought was a huge swarm of the things. That was until we rounded the corner and saw them gathering together seeming to be five deep in places.

Massive numbers of ladybugs.
The orange-red would be ladybugs. The grey and brownish are rocks and dirt and loose leaves. What exactly is attracting these ladybugs is a mystery but they are very enthusiastic about it. (Abbie, much later: Turns out, not ladybugs.)

As we continue to climb, the vegetation becomes more sparse, especially the undergrowth. Following the trail, we found ourselves on the other side of the canyon without crossing over the stream which had water below. We can see far up the slopes easily all along the trail. The trees are huge and the slopes make them seem as bushes along the way.

A bit of trees.
One of the lesser slopes which doesn't dwarf the trees so far beyond what one would expect.

03 May 2009

Bridge to Nowhere

Angeles National Forest

Locate the trailhead.

The "Bridge to Nowhere" isn't really such. Hike information can be found here. The instructions for getting there could be improved quite a bit, though. After getting off on Arcadia in Arcadia, turn north and follow the road out of the city and along the reservoir. Turn right on East Fork Road to cross a large bridge over the river and wiggle around a little more. That road does dead end at the ranger station if you go around the hairpin turn it talks about, but if you catch the road into the Sheep Mountain Wilderness to the left on that hairpin turn you pass a few trailheads on the way to the end of the road. Park in the large lot by the gate on the road and continue down it passing yet another trailhead to some other destination. The trail follows the old road route up to the bridge built for the road. At least half of it is actually on the old road bed, but there are places where the roadbed are long gone and the bridge at the top is the only bridge left.

Also, where it says there are six stream crossings and you will need waterproof shoes even in low water needs some correction. This is the east fork of the San Gabriel River, as it says on the map, and as such is, in fact, a small river. I crossed with water halfway up my thighs on a few of these. Bring shoes that drain well. Waterproof is probably a bonus, but I haven't met any boots that handle when the water goes over the top of them without getting wet.

I started the hike a bit late. I never quite got decided to go until it was the latest time I could start since no one else was coming along. On the way up, a yellow jacket took the time to smash itself into the window edge, bank off my pony tail and drop down my shirt. In its last moments, it took a bite of my back. I was further delayed since I've never been stung by a bee so I had to figure out what it was and make sure nothing bad would result. I was given some ice by a fellow on the road which helped greatly. (Ouch!) I decided to go on even as it got later since 9 miles is less than 5 hours at 2MPH which should be a reasonable pace for a trail that supposedly only rises 1000 ft. I could still be back before dark. Turned out I wasn't the last to start. As I came back down, I met two more on their way up and the couple I'd met about the same place when I was going up were slower than I was even with stopping for a quick sketch.

Follow the old road as much as can be done.  Here it is easy. Trail sign for some drier hiking for the more sensible.
The trail follows the old road. Here it is still a usable road and it will be until the first bridge that's gone out. The carnage of the old bridge is still in the river there. A drier trail (probably) leads up out of the canyon for those who are more sensible with their trail choices. It looks like there could be some reasonable hiking up this trail too.

Anyway, I took off up that road up there. The photo shows the end of the road where it used to cross the river. The trail passes down to the side of the river and continues that way until rocks force it over. This first crossing is one of the deep ones going halfway up my thighs. I initially crossed it taking off my boots. This was a poor choice since footing is more stable when your feet are protected and I managed to bruise the top of my left foot on the way over through some of the swifter bits of water. I was hopeful there were only a few crossings.

The trail dives into the river since there's no more space on this side to walk.
No more room to walk on this side of the river, time to dive in and cross it. Choose swift or deep, but climbing instead won't work well.

30 April 2009


Sketches in the out-of-doors for the month.

There's free moments after lunch when conferencing at Asilomar.

Another little trek up to the little waterfall.

Rustic Canyon is the home of many things, including a Boy Scout Camp.

All the way out into the yard.

25 April 2009

Switzer Falls

Angeles National Forest

Locate the trailhead.

Switzer Falls is found just a short way up highway 2, the first stop past the turnoff to the old highway to Lancaster. We found a spot down by the picnic area, so didn't have to hike down the road. It's a very popular spot and there often are no places anywhere.

The trail heads downhill with many crossings over the creek. The water was low, so crossings were easy with many many rocks to choose from. It isn't always like that. There is a campground about halfway down as the canyon narrows tightly heading into a few waterfalls, cascades, and rapids. There the trail stays high passing a few scary cliff edges. Eventually it splits with the long trek to JPL on the right and a downhill sprint to the bottom of the tight canyon on the left. Then there's just a few more crossings to get to the bottom of the waterfall that is accessible.

The 25 foot waterfall.
The waterfall, which has a bit of a cascade character to it and is only about 25 feet high. The tree has always been there when I went, the first time quite a few years ago, and always looks the same. This isn't the tallest falls in the narrowing above it, just the accessible one.

12 April 2009

Rustic Canyon

Will Rogers and Topanga State Parks

Locate the trailhead.

I was tasked with finding a hike again for the day. This one should be "about three miles" which meant six miles total. I found one that was six miles where most of that was a loop going out of Will Rogers State Park. It seems to be a popular place for Easter with egg hunts adding to the usual soccer game traffic. The games we saw looked like they're probably a city league rather than a bunch of kids. We poked our heads into the barn and outside of it are buried a couple of ol' Will's favorite ponies, one for polo and one for roping. The old polo fields were today's soccer fields.

Then we hiked up the loop to the local Inspiration point. We hadn't figured out which trail we were coming back along so thought going up that it didn't matter which way we took that loop. Turned out if we'd looked more carefully we'd have seen the arrow on the edge saying "to Rustic Canyon" and would have known better. We did the loop the easy way which was the wrong way according to the trip write-up we were going by. We found our way onto the Backbone trail which actually makes a third route back to the parking lot through the middle but we headed further out and into Topanga State Park.

The trail followed up along the ridge for some good views as promised except that the air was a little thick. There was a bridge and soon the top of a peak and then, a quarter mile more or so, the unsigned trail heading down sometimes at a rather breakneck pace and we were happy not to be coming up it. At the bottom was a rather ramshackle old house enthusiastically fenced at one point and in only slightly better shape than the road down to it (which was impassible by vehicle). We turned up the trail for the "better part" of the hike. The stream was dry even though I'd heard water coming down something while hiking down. We got to the Boy Scout camp at the end of the trail and ate lunch. They say the trail doesn't go through but there's supposed to be a fire road out the other side and someone clearly can drive it.

Sketch of the archery range at the Boy Scout camp.
At the end of the trail, or so the sign would have you believe, is a Boy Scout camp. Next to this archery range is a shooting range. The air was loud with birdsong while the camp was quite abandoned.

We came back down the canyon. After the first building, we found the stream had water. There were many buildings along the way of varying ages and sorts. One was clearly a barn, but others looked quite strange. The trail kept finding bits of old road to travel along but then the road went back up the hillside (I think, I went the other way) and the trail left it for good, becoming even narrower. It was even smaller then. Eventually it came to a dam of odd concrete with a waterfall going down it. Looking down it, we found the water had built up a chute covered in moss. It was actually quite surprisingly beautiful and was the moment I really wished I'd remembered to bring the camera.

The trail crossed the stream to find a good way down the dam and from there on it crossed the stream quite freely. The canyon narrowed down a lot and this was the most beautiful part to me. It also became rather challenging to pass. At one time, I found myself totally unable to find a spot to step that didn't leave me slipping into the water. Eventually close examination found a way that wasn't as covered in loose gravel as all the other ways. Another time I found myself with a great need to hold onto something to get by most easily and everything to grab was poison oak. I made it past getting no closer than an inch, which was right in front of my face. Overall, the poison oak wasn't as bad as one might expect.

The canyon got narrower and narrower. It finally opened up again, a little, as the trail took off up the side with a sign saying "Will Rogers thata way". Just before the end of the canyon, we ran into four kids coming up the other way. The only others we saw in the canyon were walking a dog on the easier part where old roads often can be found. Many many people were going up to Inspiration point (or coming back down) and quite a few were going up to the peak just past the bridge, but none came our way.

©2009 Valerie Norton
Posted 23 May 2009

05 April 2009

Monrovia Canyon Falls

Monrovia Canyon Park

Locate the trailhead.

We took a second trip of Monrovia Canyon. This time we only did the small canyon with the falls, and not a bit of Sawpit that it is a tributary to. This makes the trail even shorter. We didn't quite do the shortest version, but it was very nearly so. As before, the trail is sometimes narrow, often wide, and always easy. It goes past the old flood control barriers...

An old flood control barrier.
Where there's a creek, there's flood control. Or it seams that way. Sometimes even very large double bits of flood control like this one.

07 March 2009

Fish Creek Canyon and Falls

Angeles National Forest

Locate the trailhead.

Fish Creek was once very accessible but now has a quarry operating at the end of the canyon. Now it can be got at by way of a much longer trail that climbs the ridge and drops into the canyon surrounded by a truly amazing amount of poison oak. This trail seems to be the domain of stringy old hikers who can manage to make it to the trail by 7AM. However, on cerain Saturdays, the quarry runs a shuttle through their operations so that if you can start by noon and be out by 3PM, the average 5-year-old can make it up to the falls. The vans were running today, and I saw a lot of young kids, some of them even walking it themselves.

The trail heads out over a bridge and into the canyon, turning a few sharp corners quickly hiding the quarry from view. The canyon itself is rather narrow and steep with water leaking out the left side here and there. The trail stays fairly high up on the left side most of the way until that side becomes a sheer cliff. Then it crosses over and soon after the creek can be found tumbling down that cliff.

Looking over the wooded canyon.
The canyon as the trail starts off high on the side. It gets quite a bit narrower.

(Directions: Get off 210 at Olive Avenue and turn right on Huntington then left on Encanto Parkway. It looks suspiciously like a private road and the sign is on a rock in the center. It's directly before a large bridge. The quarry is at the end of the road, if they're closed go back past the horses and park in the dirt lot for the longer trail.)

Someone's put up a few signs in the first part of the canyon to tell a little about the history. One of these points out that this is the only place in the San Gabriel Mountains to find a particular variety of Matilija poppies. Most say things about the cabins that are now just a few ruins and their former residents now all gone elsewhere.

Steps marking the location of an old cabin.
Steps seem to be the only thing left of this cabin, although there may be more to see in among the thick growth of young trees.

Ecological Staircase to the Pygmy Forest

Jug Handle State Natural Preserve Click for map. I noticed an Earthcache that looked interesting as it asks for study of an area wi...