30 May 2011

hope: Fish Canyon excursions

Angeles National Forest

Fish Creek Canyon has a quarry at the mouth, making access difficult.  The quarry has a few access days somewhat less than every other Saturday during which they provide parking and shuttles to go up the canyon.  This makes the hike up to the falls about 2 miles.  The shuttles used to allow people up until noon and continued running them back down to 3 PM, but recently this time has been shortened.  There is also a route made to bypass the quarry to get into the canyon from just after the gate to the quarry which adds about 3 miles to the trek up to the falls and which no one seems to have anything good to say about.  Previous years when I have gone, the part of the bypass trail coming down to the canyon looked wide and used.  The first mile of the other side, which I have been on, looked used, but was overgrown once it got to the other side of the canyon wall.  When I went this year (28 May 2011), the access trail down in the canyon was looking much less used and unmaintained.  The quarry has now swapped some land east of the creek for land west of the creek and I'm not sure what this means for the access trail.  Dan Simpson suggests that access can be arranged with the quarry, as well.

There are three ways to increase a hike in the canyon that I have not yet tried:

See more cabins

The Azusa quadrangle from 1953 (the first 7.5 minute for the area) shows a number of structures along the canyon past the cabin ruins that the trail passes through.  These are probably more cabin ruins, but they are down in the canyon while the trail passes high.  The northernmost is across the creek just as the trail drops down to the creek again and there was a fair amount of trail down to there.  Fishermen like to fish in this area and downstream from there.  Fishermen also fish at the very start of the trail and there is usually a use trail headed up stream where the trail first heads up the canyon wall.  I believe the whole canyon is passable, except the actual falls, but could be wrong.

Go to the top of the falls

People would clearly go to the top of the falls if they could find a way.  There is a record of their attempts up what few pieces of dirt are near the falls, but everything ends in cliffs.  That is not an area that can easily be climbed.  However, there apparently has been a trail up to the top.  The Azusa quadrangle revised by the Forest Service in 1995 shows a trail leaving from just before the stream crossing and heading sharply up before traveling along just above the cliffs to arrive at the falls.  I looked for this trail 28 May 2011, but could find no sign of it.  Even before the trail crosses the stream, the west side of the canyon has become cliff.  There is a promising spot just past the cliff section coming down the trail and just before the cute little falls (Darling Donna) that could be where such a trail would start.  It is also possible someone was enthusiastic about a planned trail, but I don't think they're supposed to put anything not already there.

Up to the right and keep going until morning

Both Azusa quadrangles show a second trail leaving the main trail just after the stream crossing.  This trail is traveling above the stream at the top of the waterfall so does not come to just above the waterfall, but does continue up the canyon quite a ways more than that.  It is mostly above the canyon and stops when it comes down into a flat area.  The oldest map shows three structures and trail along the creek all the way up to the truck trail above.  (I gather this truck trail is distinct, but unmaintained and badly overgrown now.)  It could make a nice overnight, I think, although maybe short for that.  I also looked for this trail on 28 May 2011.  I could see no sign of its couple of switchbacks going up the hillside.  One section that looked more promising by the lay of the land was too overgrown to pass.  Just past that, it was much more open, but most rock outcropping above that comes down to the trail and would require climbing.  It may be possible to get around the rocks to the far north along the hillside.  A use trail seemed to go up along the bottom edge of the ridge, so people may occasionally do this trail, in a rough way.

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