Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Henninger Flats, and a bit beyond
This is a continuation of my previous post, which started at the Eaton Canyon Nature Center, and took you to the bridge that's the start of the Toll Road, as well as to Eaton Canyon Falls.
If you're hiking to Henninger Flats and you started from Eaton Canyon Nature Center or the "halfway" access, there's a (signed) shortcut up to the Toll Road. It knocks off about 1/2 mile from your total distance.
If you're coming from Pinecrest, you need to walk the whole Toll Road, but you're already saved a mile from the nature center and a half-mile from the halfway point, anyway. Also, if you're riding a mountain bike, you need to access the Toll Road from Pinecrest, because bikes aren't supposed to be ridden along the parts of the trail before the Toll Road.
The road from here to Henninger has primarily southern exposure, so it can get pretty hot later in the year. The road also feels pretty steep in the earlier portions. It's steep enough that faster walkers may discover they can make it up to Henninger faster than slower mountain bikers (they'll beat you on the way down, of course). This shot, taken from the start of the Altadena Crest Trail, gives you an idea of how steeply the Toll Road rises from the floor of Eaton Canyon:
Because of the altitude gain, if it's clear, you'll have a great view to the south almost immediately. The towers of downtown should be easy. Ocean views will not be uncommon. If it's the afternoon, it'll be glowing orange. If it's late winter, you might have some wildflowers to admire on the way up.
There's only one mileage marker along the way. It'll tell you when you're 7/10ths of a mile from Henninger and two miles from. . . Where? I don't know if they're measuring it from the bridge or the nature center. It sure *seems* like it's from the bridge, because from there, it seems like you're about 2/3 of the way there and very close to Henninger. But that would make it 3.7 miles from the nature center. Is it that far? I suppose it might be.
From the 7/10ths marker, you can also see both your destination and pretty much the entire rest of your trail there.
Entering Henninger Flats, there's a sign on the side of the road, indicating you're entering an area managed by the Los Angeles County Fire Department's Division of Forestry. That's the sign pictured at the top of this post.
There are a number of picnic benches, flush toilets, a demonstration fire spotting tower, and a small museum. I get a kick out of the stuffed raccoon.
Incidentally, as you pass the toilets, there's a sign making a reference to Mt. Fuji. And if you look above and beyond the toilets, there is a hill that has a slight resembalance to the Japanese volcano. I'll have to take a picture of that and stick it here later.
You'll also get a clear view to the radio towers and solar observatory on top of Mount Wilson. They're still about four miles away by foot, but they're obviously closer than that as the crow flies.
Although there are several water fountains at Henninger Flats, they are currently signed as not potable, so you'll only be able to drink what you carried with you.
The road/trail continues north, through the Flats. There are a couple of spurs to the road that wind around the various campground sites (which, unfortunately, are not available for use).
As you leave the developed area, you'll see a large area with trees of various species and sizes. They're grown here and then transplanted where ever in the forest they are needed.
About a half-mile after you passed the toilet, there's another spur road, heading southwest, to a helipad. Perhaps a quarter-mile after this is an unsigned but very distinct trail that drops off to the left. I only noticed this trail on my last trip, and have not walked it. I don't know how far it goes or where, but I think it's the one that goes some of the water diversions that are used to water the "tree farm" at Henninger Flats.
Another half-mile or so takes you to the junction with the Idelhour trail, which is currently closed as part of the Station Fire recovery zone.
Note--Mileages are guestimated. Take them with a grain of salt.