15 September 2013

Burkhart Trail

Angeles National Forest

Locate the trail head.

The high desert. While the valleys below swelter, some respite is found in the high elevations. But this desert is not dry and springs abound in its high reaches. This is not apparent as we drive through Buckhorn campground to the parking for the trail. There are no sounds from the creek beside the road and the ford doesn't even have a trickle starting across it. By the time we cross over the couple wet spots by small springs beside the trail, there are sounds coming from the bottom of the canyon. For a short distance, a second trail parallels the main trail with many spurs down into the creek, but following this route while examining below turns out to be too little effort to find the first waterfall. Further along, an unmissable use trail angles steeply back and down to reach the top of the second waterfall. This one is as difficult to get a look at as before, of course.

water falling over rock, almost visible behind more rock
The second waterfall marked on the USGS maps and the only one marked on Harrison's Angeles High Country map along Buckhorn.

a wind of trail as it passes along Buckhorn Peak
A look over the high desert as the trail winds its way along the side of Buckhorn Mountain.

A post marks one mile along the trail. The hike down to Cooper Canyon is quick. There is a little water in it, too. The log bridge marked as trail on the USGS map still stands providing a crossing over to the campground on the other side. We cross over the little creek down the side of Buckhorn and then meet the Pacific Crest Trail. The PCT hikers are directed up here because otherwise, they go along Rattlesnake Trail, most of which is closed. Soon after the junction, an obvious use trail heads straight down from the trail with a better trail down soon after. Both lead to the top of a fraying rope that lets one down over the final rocks to the bottom of the waterfall in Cooper Canyon.

mossy rocks with a dribble of water coming over them
Only a few dribbles of water are coming down Cooper Canyon to grace the waterfall and the pool below doesn't look very attractive.

There are hikers having lunch and playing music in the bottom when we get there. After us come a huge pack of short people sporting Trailrunner shirts. The guys depart, warning about slick rocks and kids, but the adults seem pretty confident about what each kid would do and what to say to steer them from whatever would hurt. The kids slip less than the guys while they were handing out their warnings, anyway. The troop were hiking around after backpacking in the night before and were on their way out and clearly enjoying it greatly. They head up again and we have the waterfall to ourselves. It does make the birds easier to hear. I have a poke at the waterfall and turn back to find a skink having a drink.

bright blue tail of a juvenile skink, and the rest of it too
Of course it doesn't stay by the water while I get hold of the camera. The bright blue tail of this skink doesn't seem like a good idea, but juveniles must rebel.

There are quite a few other lizards poking around as we take in the waterfall a little longer. There's quite a few trout swimming around the pool, with a tint of red and a row of big brown spots running down their sides.

a fish in the pond
A bit of trout swimming along below the littered surface.

little lizard on a rock
A more common lizard hanging out on a rock.

After a while, we head back up.

©2013 Valerie Norton
Posted 16 September 2013

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