06 March 2011

Bailey Canyon

Sierra Madre front country

Locate the trailhead.

Somehow I have never quite gotten to Bailey Canyon although it's quite close by. I always would look at it and think it was just another trail out of Chantry Flats. In fact, I'm sure there's a trail about halfway down the road from the parking to the cabins that says something like that on it. In fact, this is somewhat west of the flats. The trail goes up from the back side of the city and connects to a second trail that goes up to the top of Mt. Wilson. I have once taken this other trail for a one-way, uphill trek to the top.

The trail starts in a city park below the debris dam for the canyon with hours "sunrise to sunset". It heads out the west side through a turnstile and onto the road that services the debris dam. Past the basin, there's a bit of tough road and, for no good reason, a handicapped parking spot, then it quickly narrows into trail.

I thought I would head up to some cabin ruins that are supposed to be somewhere up it. A sign at the bottom said it was 2.2 miles up. Another 1.1 miles would take me to one of the lower peaks, and some 4 miles total would finish up the connector to the trail up to the real peak. I took the right fork as instructed on a web site to climb up the canyon instead of go to the waterfall, crossing a bridge into a space with a nature trail. I should have paid a little more attention to the signs at the bottom, because this was only a little loop and my branch was a little further down. Coming back from trying to go straight on a loop, I found a couple who had stopped because one had decided some lizards were scary. I looked, and they indeed had feet. They also seemed to be two different sorts of lizard and one had its mouth firmly clamped over the other's mouth. I walked past nature's struggle since lizards don't scare me and they didn't feel the need to move as I did.

Back on the other side of the bridge, I followed the other trail, which was signed for the waterfall. The fork was also signed, and I took off up it. The trail climbed steeply up the side of the canyon. For a bit it climbed out into the next canyon before climbing onto the ridge between them and back into Bailey. Little trails would lead out from the ends of switchbacks sometimes. The first lead out to a bench set for the view of the cities. The other couple were lead out to waterfall viewing, although not always very good.

Far below in the canyon, a cascade, nearly a waterfall, can be seen.
A waterfall, or perhaps just a cascade, far below in the canyon.

Waterfall in the canyon, almost visible.
A second waterfall, just a little below and left of center, visible along the trail from a path off the end of a switchback.

The same waterfall from higher up.
The next turnout afforded a much better view of the same waterfall. Previously, not much below the lip could be seen. Still, the bottom is lost to the high walls and bends in this compact canyon.

Closeup of waterfall.
A closeup of that waterfall.

Eventually the trail flattened out, proceeding along high above the canyon bottom without climbing much.

A piece of nice trail.
A nice stretch of trail, heading off fairly flatly under flowering trees.

Suddenly, after a corner, the canyon bottom wasn't very far below after all. Before long, a well used trail headed off to the left and directly into the spot the stone cabin once stood.

The stream suddenly close, beyond: the deep canyon obscured by trees.
A view out of the canyon to Sierra Madre below. Closer at hand, a bit of stream is visible through the trees.

The remains of stone walls that were once a cabin.
What remains of the walls that were once a stone cabin.

Beyond the cabin was another cabin of sorts. Someone has set up a home, but it doesn't look used at the moment or it's very poorly done. From the cabin, I followed the use trail down into the stream. I hiked up it, around a corner, to find a little cascade. I hiked back downstream to find two more little cascades with slick rock around them. The iffy, slippery footholds along these seemed to promise I would end up in the water and I wasn't feeling much like wet feet so I didn't end up getting far enough down the canyon to see the waterfall that brought the canyon bottom up so quickly.

Down in the stream bed just a little upstream from the cabin.
The trail also goes down to the stream bed. The cabin walls are above this corner.

Two streams meeting.
A little upstream, two streams meet. Not sure which should be considered the main one since they look about the same size. I went up the one on the left.

Upstream cascade.
The cascade up the stream to the left. A few fallen trees had settled into the spot.

Cascades on down the stream.
Two cascades along the stream that look like nice, but short, water slides.

Bay tree with fat trunk and skinny roots that don't quite look like they belong to it.
There were bay trees along the canyon sides. Many had odd looking roots sticking out as skinny arms from fat trunks that don't quite seem to belong to the tree above.

Sketch of the curves of the stream bed.
A sketch along the trail of the trail of the stream.

After having a moment to sketch, I headed back down the trail.

Looking back down the canyon a bit lower than before, so fewer trees blocking the ruggedness.
Looking out of the canyon somewhat lower down. The trail snakes up the side to the left.

Some ridges in the distance to the west.
Westward, a canyon that feeds into this one in a similarly steep way and some ridges beyond.

More ridges, this time to the east.
Many ridges off to the east that denote other canyons.

Once back down to the fork, I turned up the other trail to see the waterfall, since it is supposed to be a short way up. To my surprise, this trail seemed smaller than the one up the canyon. Although signed, it is little more than a use trail, crossing the stream every hundred yards or less and never really getting out of the stream bed. Finally, I could hear waterfall and turned a sharp corner to see it. Just before the corner, a ragged and steep trail went up the side of the canyon. After the corner, the canyon was like a small rock box.

A bit of the stream below the waterfall.
A little trail and a little stream headed up (or down) and canyon floor.

A tiny stream of water falling straight down.
A narrow stream of water is all that's coming over the lip and may be all that ever does outside of a rain storm. The waterfall at the end of the trail.

The top of the waterfall with the water raining down.
A view up the waterfall at the trees above.

The bottom of the waterfall with water splashing everywhere.
The bottom of the waterfall has a small tree slowly being eroded away with the rock.

Some people coming up behind me skipped the waterfall and went right up the sliding rock trail to the side. That put them above the fall and to the left where more sliding rock was, which they politely kicked down upon my pack. I settled down to draw the waterfall because I always do. Once done, I turned back to follow the rest of the trail down. I almost missed the turnstyle on the way back before remembering that I needed to go into the park to get to the car easily.

waterfall sketch
Sketch of the waterfall in this small box of a canyon.

©2011 Valerie Norton
Posted 12 March 2011

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