24 August 2014

Lower Arroyo Seco


Locate the trailhead.

While I lived in Pasadena, I hiked Arroyo Seco north of JPL many times, but never bothered with the parks, golf course, and Rose Bowl that dot the course below JPL. Enough people talk about how much they enjoy this area and I start to wonder what I have been missing. There are some main entries with parking lots and a number of smaller entries from the roads in between. I am rather indiscriminate about exactly which piece of the greenish beads of park I explore, so park in a convenient shaded street (La Loma) and wander toward east side of the creek to find one of these entries. There is one just south of the road. Wide, shallow, decaying cement steps curve their way down from the top a short way and a well used dirt path completes the journey to the bottom.

wide cement steps leading down
One of many old stairways that drop the first few tens of feet into the park. This one is just south of La Loma Rd. on Arroyo Blvd..

Here, the area is wide and flat with many trees. There is enough room for some trail away from the creek as well as the wide path next to the creek. The creek itself is as expected, a trickle of water making its way down a square concrete ditch. The Los Angeles River is not the only thing that has been given this horrible treatment. As I head north, a narrowing in the green corridor forces the outside track to join the track beside the creek, then things widen again. An open space ahead contains a large, square, shallow pool surrounded by benches and picnic tables. No one is practicing today, but this is a casting pond for local anglers.

a rectangle of shallow water
The casting pond.

There is a parking lot for the casting pond and other things in the area as well as a footbridge to cross the creek. Continuing north, the trail again joins the wide track by the creek, this time to avoid a building. A little further, and the tall Colorado bridge crosses high overhead, followed quickly by the wide lanes of the freeway bridge.

Colorado Blvd. bridge
The bridge for Colorado Blvd. crosses high overhead.

the 134 bridge
Below the 134 freeway.  (The Ventura Freeway.)

The freeway marks the end of the cement held creek. Above it, pools covered in green that looks almost thick enough to walk on are held back by cement barriers. A plaque on the bridge dedicates the trail to "Tad" Williams and a second repeats this. After passing through some thicker trees, it turns out this more natural state for the creek is short lived as things return to concrete with a channel down the middle. The trail runs into Arroyo and presumably crosses over if one desires to continue north. I come up and get a good look at the Holly St. bridge and Rose Bowl, which I may never have bothered to set eyes on until now, and start back down along the creek.

concrete ending in a pool of water
Ducks and an egret play at the edge of the concrete in Arroyo Seco.

Rose Bowl in the distance
The Rose Bowl stadium through the Holly St. bridge.

maple and sycamore
A well shaded section, which is quite nice on this hot day.

The Colorado bridge has a second bridge along the bottom with steps up to it from the trail, so I can cross over to the other side.

tree in the cement steps
A tree growing up through the footing of the Colorado bridge.

The west side of the creek also expands and contracts allowing trails to wander and then be forced back to the track next to the concrete creek. There are odd structures to the side that look like parts of old clothes lines and more staircases up to the streets along the way.

steps up the west side of the creek
Another set of stairs lead upward near some palm trees.

concrete creek
A dribble of water down a concrete square should not be the fate of a creek.

On the far side of the bridge from the casting pond, there are a bunch of tables and more of the funny structures, but now in better repair and with a sign saying to be wary of the archery range and an obvious target area of hay beyond. Just a little further, there is a large sign about the archery ranges claiming there are tournaments every Sunday and free lessons every Saturday (except July). This is the sort of thing I would want to know about while living here and no one told me when I did. It also goes to explain the people wandering around this side of the creek carrying quivers of arrows and bows. Many more archery ranges are south of this sign and these are in good repair. It does serve to push those who are not with bows next to the abused creek.

archery range
One of the many archery ranges beside the trail with hay bail target area and short posts marking off distance.

The archery ranges stop a little short of the La Loma bridge, where things are narrow again. There are trails up on this side as well, but I continue south. Below the bridge, it widens, but only a little. The trail through the vegetation is only 10 or 20 feet off from the trail along the creek. On the far side, a very wide section with a small hill can be seen just before it becomes a strip between creek and fence.

La Loma Rd. bridge
The bridge for La Loma Rd. does not inspire much confidence with its flaking concrete and exposed rebar.

green grass, small plants, and a tennis ball in the middle of the concrete ditch
A selection of greens along the side of the trickle of creek in the concrete ditch.

a bump in the land
A little bit of structure to the flood plain that was reclaimed to make the trail.

A little further and there is one more footbridge I can use to cross over. On the other side is a small park with signs, benches, a little bit of manicured garden, and some parking. The sign informs me that I am at the "Gateway to Pasadena". The parking lot above is the main entry to Lower Arroyo Seco and the building the trail goes around is La Casita del Arroyo. The bump just north of here is Camel's Hump. I head back up to La Loma noting that there is a bit of trail up Camel's Hump for those who wish to have a little bit of climb.

Camel's Hump
A path up Camel's Hump. Perhaps there is a bit of a view from up there, at least in one or two directions.

©2014 Valerie Norton
Posted 2 September 2014

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