28 June 2012

Eaton Canyon

Altadena front country

Locate the trailhead.

The plan was to take the three year old (and her mother) out for a stroll. I thought some of the lower sections of Arroyo Seco might be a nice place to go but since I've only ever gone hiking up the canyon, sometimes very far (but past the picnic area is still closed), I'm not entirely sure what one does in the park in the wash. Her mother had been wanting to go to Eaton Canyon, which is much more familiar to me and should be a reasonable distance. We actually stopped by the nature center the evening before and the wash is bone dry down there, but with hope we headed up to the start of the Mt. Wilson Toll Road and headed down into the canyon. Looking down from the bridge, we saw water entering the wash. There was hope for a waterfall after all. We looped around on the trail and got as far as the gauging station. The canyon was surprisingly crowded and the pools above and below the water gauge were full of kids. The three year old had to join in for quite a while.

The pools around the gauging station
A small crowd of children playing in the pools above and below the gauging station in Eaton Canyon while a small crowd of parents rest in the shade.

one three year old by the waterfall over the old water gauge
And here is the star three year old happily not actually drinking the water.

The water was at first far too cold, but eventually she was happily plunging into it and looking for fish. There were lots of 3-4 inch fish huddled in the bottom of the pool. After some lunch, we headed out again to reach the waterfall through the increadablely steep sided canyon.

making our way along the trail
A trail good enough for a three year old. (Full disclosure: the three year old only walked about halfway and almost none of the way back.)

a spot where the water flowers wide and thin
A shady spot along the stream where the water spreads out in a thin layer over the stones.

A row of paired up damselflies on a rock.

surrounded by cliff faces
The sides of the canyon are forbidding cliff faces made by the deep, meandering cut of creek.

As we neared the last corner before the waterfall, the sounds of voices became louder and more numerous. Almost on the corner, we could start to hear the falling water among all the voices.

vast crowds near the waterfall
Lots of people and a little bit of waterfall, exactly what we were able to hear as well.

more crowds directly around the waterfall pool
It's just more and more people as we make our way to a pool side location.

We joined in playing in the pool. The three year old was running around shouting "dragonfly dragonfly" while a single red dragonfly made round after round through the air above the pool. It didn't seem to tire, nor was it joined by another. Nor, luckily, was the kid joined by another. We all had our moments by the waterfall, which may be in low water but is still a fine fall. A couple rocks came down the side by the sign, possible there were a few folks headed to the next waterfall via the route that takes a few lives each year. Deciding that the smallest one had been clearly shivering for too long, we got all of ourselves out of the water.

water falling from near the spray
An almost peopleless view of the waterfall coming down over the rocks.

We headed down again. The only incident on the way was encountering a large group that included one rather muscled young man who was acting as if the trail was difficult and wondering very boisterously how far it was and if it was really worth it in between imparting to the world that he was quite drunk. The trail gets that kind, too.

cactuses up on the top of the cliffs
Some more marveling at the steep cliffs topped with desert vegetation.

Coming to the bridge, we had an exciting time looking down the drains that are on both sides every 20 feet or so. Many of them have pipes with bends on them making it hard to see anything, but a few, especially on the end, allow a good view of what is below. After the bridge, it is just a short way up the steep hill to finish up.

toll road bridge
The Mt. Wilson Toll Road bridge and the canyon opening. This basically divides Eaton Canyon from Eaton Wash.

road and trail heading to other destinations
The trail down the wash to the nature center below and the fire road up to Henninger and the top of Wilson above.

©2012 Valerie Norton
Posted 30 Jun 2012

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