24 March 2012

Dawn Mine

Angeles National Forest

Locate the trailhead.

I tried to get Abbie out of the lab for at least part of the weekend with a short hike overnight, but didn't manage it. I did manage to get her out for long enough to hike around the local area and it turns out there's a popular hike that we had both missed so far in our time in Pasadena. We set about finding our way to Dawn Mine from Sunset Ridge. We found our way down Cheney Trail and parked off the road not too far from the locked gate on the fire road that marks the start. We signed in at the register and tried to make sense of the tagged map beside it. At the register, trails head down to Millard Canyon (nice trail, about a mile there), out to the front of the hills, and continues along the ridge, soon coming to one more trail. We continued just a little up the ridge and turned down this trail.

Sunset Ridge trail turning away from the fire road
Sunset Ridge Trail (12W18) splits off from the paved fire road and makes for a much nicer hike. For now, it also comes with scary warning signs, but the trail is looking good right now. Destinations: Sierra Saddle 1.5, Echo Mountain 3.2, Mt. Lowe Trail Camp 5.8 miles, all up.

As we went, the sun came out. Rain was promised for the Sunday, but this Saturday was beautiful. From our vantage point on the trail high up the canyon, we spotted Millard Falls, still closed to any access due to the fire, and never quite completely on display between rocks and trees. Further along, we spotted the falls up the Saucer Branch.

Millard Falls from high up the canyon side
Millard Canyon Falls actually has a couple of rocks trapped in the top of it. It's hard to see all of the falls without actually going down into the canyon, and there was plenty of water coming over it to make it worth looking at.

a very green burn area
This area was burned by the Station Fire, but it's got a strong greenness to it now.

Saucer Branch Falls
Saucer Branch, a tributary canyon feeding Millard Canyon that has a large waterfall on it.

We came to a fork in the trail by a cabin. The trail past the cabin seemed rather well used for if it was for the cabin only. We went up again, continuing on Sunset Ridge passing a sign claiming it was closed. This doesn't seem likely based on the closure map and there wasn't a matching sign anywhere for people coming the other way. We found all kinds of mountain bikes coming down the trail at us as we climbed. A few of the switchbacks had developed trenches down the middle from mountain bike braking. That was the worst the trail got as it was a very good trail.

little blue flowers and even smaller white ones
Delicate flowers popping up because it is spring. Baby Blue Eyes.

big yellow and white flowers at the top of a bush
False Lupine up on the ridge growing on tall stalks over the bushes.

Reaching the road again, we sat down for a bit of lunch with a pretty good view of the canyon below. There we could have also chosen a view of the crowds on Echo Mountain. As it was, we had a serenade of people shouting though the echo phone on the far side of the shoulder. The road is still paved when the trail rejoins it, but quickly becomes dirt with the trail to Echo Mountain. Looking down the trail, we could see a long line of folks laden for an overnight at Mt. Lowe Campground, most likely, making their way along it. The road has a few rocks on it now, but nothing big enough to fill much more than half the road.

Sunset Ridge above Millard Canyon
Looking down Millard Canyon edged by Sunset Ridge with both a fire road and, lower, the trail.

Cape of Good Hope
Looking back down the road to some rocks called the Cape of Good Hope, which seems an odd thing to call it.

Up on the left of the road, there was another information sign. This one said this was Dawn Station and showed a picture of the old station, a rather small and simple thing that was mostly roof. Standing next to the sign and the old foundation of the station, we could see a narrow trail heading down back into the canyon. In a position set back from the junction and closer to the road seeming to indicate that was the route to the mine was a sign saying "Dawn Mine 1 mi". We decided it meant the trail down after all, since otherwise the station was put in the wrong place.

concrete and iron and wood from Dawn Station
The foundation for Dawn Station. It didn't look as old as that to us.

narrow trail down to the mine
We start down the narrow trail to the Mine. The sign is almost visible behind the branches, a tall, narrow, green thing nailed to the tree.

The trail stayed narrow all the way down, but was decidedly not well maintained. We found another big rock on it, but with a narrow trail, it covered over the whole trail and any reasonable route around the rock. We managed to clamber carefully over the thing. Then was the washout, with a bit of new trail forming from use down below the old one. Then the bigger washout, this one with some water flowing, with even less trail along it for a longer section. Then there was a bit that just got narrower than I was really happy with as it sloped heavily to the outside covered in loose rock. Then the trail just began splitting crazily as it got very close to the mine. We managed to come out right at the mine.

narrow trail along the rock cliff
The narrow, steep trail down the side of the canyon which is mostly good except where it's very bad.

lush leaves
This one's looking very good in dark green instead of the usual grey.

water in the canyon
Reaching the bottom of the trail and the stream. The map actually shows the trail continuing up until eventually meeting with Bear Canyon.

some old mine machinery
Some old machinery and cement, the part of the mine that is visible when coming down the trail or up the canyon.

There is a mine shaft a short way to the left of the machinery. It had a rock in front of it, but remains open. We didn't explore inside. The timbers shoring it up have rotted significantly and there is a stream running from it and there is said to be a water filled shaft about 40 feet in. Above it, there was a rope, which apparently marks another shaft up the cliff side. We were almost hit by rocks from people making their way around up there and left it alone.

looking into the mine shaft
Looking into the mine shaft. Most of what has fallen seems to be the timbers rather than the rocks. The floor is covered in water.

We turned down the canyon and found some flat rocks for a little rest. Abbie seemed ready for a nap, so I pulled out the sketch book and attacked putting a bay that was up on the cliff into it. Both activities seemed to take about the same amount of time. It wasn't all that long, but about three groups passed us going up while we rested. When we'd come down the trail, there was a large group trying to figure out where it went up and took our route as a clue. We saw quite a number of people in certain places on the trail.

Continuing down, we kept trying to find a bit of trail and when we did, not having much of it. Black arrows mark a number of routes for the way up, but none give any hints for going down. We found a couple old cabin foundations as we went. The water kept dropping underground and then sprouted out again like nothing had happened. There were old bits of metal here and there, too, including what looked like a generator and an old rail from the railroad far above.

tight cornering for a stream
The canyon takes a sudden and tight corner as we make our way down it.

old cabin site
Cemented rocks in the foreground and a small square of cemented rocks in the middle show where there was once a cabin.

narrow rail from above
A narrow rail with a slight curve from the railroad that once passed far above.

wet rocks
Water oozing out from all sides instead of tumbling over as it reemerges.

flowing water
A jacuzzi for the tired feet and legs.

the back wall, mostly, of an old cabin
Rocks trying to hold back the hillside mark another cabin. Some of their garden also remained in the form of ivy and honeysuckle and irrigation pipes.

a cement wall along the side of the canyon may once have been trail improvements
This concrete wall may have been trail improvements or simply something supporting the old pipes going down the canyon.

another look at the falls up Saucer Branch
Back to Saucer Branch going along the canyon bottom. A trail leads into it but quickly dissipates.

Spotting a box on the south side of the canyon and a bit of trail heading up below it, we climbed up onto good trail once again and found ourselves below the cabin that had had trail leading to it from Sunset Ridge. We walked past the cabin and onto the trail. Below, numerous signs made it clear that the lower canyon is still closed and we are not to go have a good look at Millard falls. We walked back down Sunset Ridge, taking one more peak at the falls, and back to the car.

©2012 Valerie Norton
Posted 26 March 2012

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