Friday, February 26, 2010

Hike 13: Big Dalton Canyon to Peak 3397 via Upper Mystic Canyon Trail


No hike today and probably no hike tomorrow, so I'll post about an old one. I took this hike on January 29. The trailhead is above Glendora. I took the 210 freeway to Grand, headed north, then headed east on Sierra Madre, then north on Glendora Mountain Road. Just a mile and a half or so north of Sierra Madre and Big Dalton Canyon Road is on your left. Just over 1/2 mile on this road, there's a parking area on the right side of the road. Several trails intersect here, including Big Dalton Canyon Trail, Upper and Lower Mystic Canyon Trails, and the Wren Meachem Trail.

To get to the Mystic Canyon Trails, cross the road and head up hill about a dozen yards. A fallen and overgrown sign indicates the Lower Mystic Canyon Trail is straight ahead. A bit later, an erect sign points the Upper Mystic Canyon Trail as heading to your left. You begin climbing immediately, though it levels of somewhat later.

When you hit an extremely overgrown dirt road, you know you're on Lower Monroe Road. Follow the road to your right. It'll loop around a couple of peaks, neither of which have names. The first one (after traveling about three miles) is 2760 feet tall. The second one (after about 4 3/4 miles) is 3397 feet tall. In both cases, the dirt road/trail loops around the north of these peaks, and that's how you should approach them if you want to top the peak. Cutting directly up the firebreaks is way steep and generally not worth it.

Interesting thing about the second peak is that you'll come across a large, rectangular area that's fenced off. Apparently, there are sometimes bees deployed there. I guess they head out from there to pollinate the sage, and that's where you'd get locally grown sage honey.

Along most of this hike, you've got a nice view looking across towards Glendora Mountain Road. Mt. Wilson is far off to your west.

If you're able to make it to this second peak, it's definitely worth it. It's got a rather broad summit, mostly covered with California buckwheat. Those branches turn a wonderful shade of red when they mature. If it's clear, you'll have a nice view towards Mount Baldy.

You could potentially continue further north from here, and eventually intersect with Glendora Mountain Road, again. Or you can just turn around, having taken a pretty hearty hike.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hike 28: Sunset Peak and San Antonio Falls




Two separate hikes. Sunset Peak is where I tried to go on Feb 12, but the Glendora Ridge Road was closed at Cattle Canyon junction, and piled snow left no apparent room for parking near the gate.

According to Modernhiker.com, the easier route up to Sunset Peak is to drive 3.2 miles past Cow Canyon saddle to the intersection with Forest Service road 2N07. This is right before mile marker 7.75, and will enter from the left side. You follow this road 3.9 miles each way to the summit (7.8 miles RT). That's the route I did, even though 1) Upon returning to the USFS visitor center at Mt. Baldy, I was told that Glendora Ridge Road wasn't supposed to be open; 2) "Most" poeple take the route from Cow Canyon Saddle, even though there is VERY limited parking there, and; 3) Even though there is a USFS flyer showing the route I took on 2N07 route is the way up, other maps indicate that this road crosses briefly into the San Dimas Experimental Forest, which is supposed to be limited to entry by permit, only.

Bottom line: It seems that the USFS would have no problem with you taking this route to the summit, provided they feel Glendora Ridge Road is open. This means ignoring a sign on the road that says, because of the San Dimas Experimental Forest, you shouldn't park on the left (south) side of the road in this area. It also means they prefer you to park in the tiny shoulder near Cow Canyon Saddle and taking that route up.

The view from the summit is outstanding. You're at the open end of a large and wide bowl, with Mt. Baldy to the north and a whole slew of 8-9 K peaks all around you. Unfortunately, clouds obscurred my view by the time I got to the top. But I still felt on top of the world.



I had slight blisters but wasn't completely tired, so I went to the Mt. Baldy visitor center and bought some maps for future reference. I also got word that the trail to San Antonio Falls would be fine (it'll probably be covered in lots of snow by tomorrow night!). So I drove up there and took the 1.2 mile RT walk there. It's entirely on a paved road that appears to get plowed, because there was some big stacks of snow on the side of the road. Apparently, the road makes a bend on itself and turns unpaved right where you can see the falls.

Not as much water coming down as I would have expected. Also, the lower falls was abbreviated in length because of a pile of snow/ice at the bottom. It was very nice, nonetheless.





Total of 9 miles hiked for the day. Very scenic.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Hike 27: West End of Altadena Crest Trail



Today I walked the far western end of the Altadena Crest Trail (ACT). I parked in Loma Alta Park, off of Sunset Ridge, just north of Loma ALta. The trail officially crosses the park and ends on Lincoln, and I did walk past that area at the end of my hike. However, first, I headed north on Sunset Ridge. The sign above is on the east side of Sunset Ridge, just north of the parking lot. It marks the beginning of the "real" trail.

Past the sign, the trail descends into what I will call The Bottomlands. There's a road to your left that you can't see. There's the sides of the large debris catch basin to your right. Today, water trickled in the low spots, but obviously during heavy rainfalls the water dug down 30-50 feet through the top soil.

You're surrounded by the usual foothill plants. I noticed a lot of black sage. Numerous live oak were also apparent.



With the water running, there were a number of native (non-sparrow) birds bounding about. There were also some nice flowers blooming. Don't know the species.



There was also a lot of what I believe is poison oak. That's my guess, based upon what I saw at the Eaton Canyon Nature Center. It's possible their signage is wrong, of course. However, I get the impression that the poison oak goes mostly dormant during the winter. In the spring, it sprouts back up, and looks to me an awful lot liked dogwood. In this picture, it's mixed in with some sort of scrub oak and a vine that's also common in the area.



This trail goes up and down several hills, and it's steep in places. It's also well-worn, with plenty of evidence of equestrian visitors.

After much climbing, you soon find yourself looking down on what turns out to be Chaney Trail. A little bit past the gate that's been locked (even though I'm pretty sure it's below the official Station Fire closure), this trail splits. Both soon hit Chaney Trail (road). The lower branch does this faster. On the other side of Chaney Trail is another sign for the ACT. The path then leads you down another 200 yards or so, eventually reaching Alzada Drive. There, I reached a one-sided Altadena Crest Trail sign. In other words, while all the other signs pointed both ways to indicate which way the trail ran, this one only pointed back. I thus concluded I was at the end of this segment fo the ACT, and headed back. Apparently, the section between Alzada and somewhere east of Taos Road is the unfininshed portion of the Trail.




I walked back the way I came, then looped around Lincoln and vicinity, checking to see if the trail continued further west than Lincoln. Got back to my car about noon, a little over 90 minutes after I left. I'm calling it three miles.

Incidentally, before I began my hike, I drove some of the roads around where I exited yesterday. I could not find any new access points to the ACT. However, I did pass a number of people with backpacks and walking sticks. I think the ACT study group must have been out checking for possible routes. Good for them.

I also saw that there's going to be filming at Loma Alta Park tomorrow. There was filming at the park on Mt Curve yesterday. The day I drove up Chenay Trail to try to get to Millard Canyon Falls, there was filming there that day, too. There seems to be a lot of filming up in these parts.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hike 26: Altadena Crest Trail and Echo Mountain



Today was a two-part hike. Part one was exploring the Altadena Crest Trail segment that runs west from the Sam Merrill Trail. Part two was to hike to Echo Mountain, which I hadn't done in about a month.

From the street parking near the corner of Lake and Alta Loma, you head east, around the stately gates of the Cobb Estate. After about 150 yards, you come to a few signs. The Altadena Crest Trail sign points both north and southeast. The trail for Echo Mountain heads off to the northeast. This is where I ended my westward hike on the Altadena Crest trail yesterday.

From the sign, I headed north. After about 100 yards along the road, a downed sign seemed to indicate the Altadena Crest Trail now headed west (it did). You then walk up and to the west. After about 200 yards, you discover that you are only about 150 yards north of where you entered the Cobb Estate. Oh, joy: You've just circumnavigated the lower portion of the Cobb Estate.

Here, a firebreak bulldozer trail cuts across your trail. The adventurous or stupid head up the very steep cut, due north (they may also have just headed up this steep cut that begins just west of the Cobb Estate sign and gotten to this point more out of breath but much faster than you).

As with the segment to the east, this segment is also south-facing and overlooking some large custom houses. However, the trail drops down the street level at Devonwood. You cross the street and the trail then goes right in front of a large home. You're then walking along a sort of alley between homes for a bit.

When the alley widens, there's an Altadena Crest Trail sign indicating the trail heads north. But, from there, it is very unclear which way you are supposed to go. I eventually did get on what I believed to be the main trail. But within a half-mile, this trail led me to a street. I passed a sign that indicated 300 Taos Road was up a certain way. I went the other way, down Taos. After a bit, I passed a sign facing the other way. It said, "Private Road--Residents Only." So obviously I hadn't gone the right way.

I continued down Taos to McNally Avenue, then followed that down to Loma Alta. I then wandered up several roads, including Fair Oaks (discovered that the north end disappears into some sort of private development). Didn't run across any other Altadena Crest Trail signs, or any other access to the mountains. It then occured to me that this sort of exploring would be a lot faster in a car. So I decided to save this exploration for another day.

Instead, I returned to Alta Loma and headed east, back to Lake. Then I did the Echo Mountain hike, just because. This time, rather than going to where the tracks run in front of the old hotel, I took the Sam Merrill Trail a bit further north, to visit the ruins of the old observatory. A sign there indicated that the tall pillar once supported a 16" refractor. That's the picture at the top of this blog post. My mouth drooled at the prospect of looking through such an instrument.

The second picture is a slightly less-cropped version of the picture above. In this one, you can see the outline of distant Mt. San Jacinto, on the left. I'm hoping to hike up that mountain in the summer.

It was a relatively clear day. I sat on the low wall that marked the foundation of the observatory dome, admiring the view, drinking Gatorade and eating a Cliff Bar. Downtown LA was easily visible. The Pacific Ocean was easy. Palos Verdes and Santa Catalina Island were also easy.

Right (north) of Catalina was another small island that I don't remember seeing before. It was probably Santa Barbara Island. Yep, good visibility.

Refreshed, I headed back down the mountain. Probably 8 miles of walking, total.

After returning home, I checked again for further information on the Altadena Crest Trail. Appears there is another segment in existence at the western terminus, out near Loma Alta Park. This is at the corner of Lincoln and Loma Alta. I'll probably be checking out this segment within a week.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Hike 25: Altadena Crest Trail

Feb 22–Eaton Canyon to Sam Merrill Trail via Altadena Crest Trail. 6 miles?

Some time ago, I noticed a sign for the Altadena Crest Trail, near the Sam Merrill Trail, above Altadena. Within the last month, I also noticed signs for the Altadena Crest Trail on the Mount Wilson Toll Road (just west of the bridge across Eaton Canyon) and down on Rubio Crest Road. I passed the former when heading up Henninger
and the latter while returning from Rubio Canyon.

Over the past few days, I googled "Altadena Crest Trail" to learn what I could about the route. Most of the stuff I found was years old. So, today, I decided to try to figure out if this long-talked about trail was a reality.

I started from just west of Old Mount Wilson Toll Road bridge, below Pinecrest. The trail climbs quickly, then heads west. There are nice views to south and west. As you travel (mostly west), you pass several apparent access points, but most apparently at ends of narrow, private streets. One that did not emptied on to where Tanoble Drive turns into Woodglen Lane.Most of this trail was self-evident. There was only one point where I was momentarily confused about which way the trial went. I think this was about 1/2 mile from the end.

Just before the trail makes a LONG detour around most of Zane Grey Terrace. You're at the opening of a narrow canyon, and it appears that the real trail continues across the canyon, up along a very clear terrace. However, it turns out that's someone's private trail on their private property. The real trail actually heads north, up the narrow canyon for about fifty yards, before it again turns west. It runs along a contour for maybe 100 yards before making a hairpin turn back on itself, then heads south, emptying on to Zane Grey Terrance.

Just at the hairpin turn, it is obvious that the trail used to cross what is now a steep ravine, because trail improvements are apparent across the way. There are a few non-official paths that appear to reach towards the old trail. Hower, they are clearly NOT official trails. They're narrow and steep. And I don't know who owns the land on the other side.

So, instead, I exited the trail at Zane Grey Terrace. Head west about 50 yards and you hit Alta Loma Drive. Go north several hundred yards along Alta Loma, and it soon turns into Rubio Canyon Drive. It also crosses the opening of Rubio Canyon. I've seen people hiking and walking dogs on that part of the Canyon, however, I don't see any way to get there without crossing private property (so maybe those hikers were from these properties? I don't know).

About 100 yards after turning into Rubio Canyon Drive, you'll notice Rubio Crest Drive, enterning from your right. Just after that, you'll notice another sign for the Altadena Crest Trail, also on your right. The trail then heads north, running parallel to a concrete drainage basin for about 200 yards. You'll feel almost like you're tresspassing as you continue north. In some points, you are literally five feet away from someone's unfenced backyard. At other times, you'll feel like you're crossing someone's front yard. But just keep following the trail markers. Eventually, you'll drop below street level and being heading up a drainage culvert. No Trespassing signs sprout up facing the trail at several points.

Just as you approach one of those big 1960s-era debris barriers, you see another sign for Altadena Crest Trail. Suddenly, you’re running into the Sam Merrill Trail! Head up to the right 2 ½ miles to get to Echo Mountain. Or head left 100 yards to climb out of your drainage flow and on to “street” level.” From there, the Altadena Crest Trail heads up hill, then climbs a steep fire break. I hiked a little bit that way in the past, before deciding it was ridiculously steep. [Edit--I have since discovered that the Altadena Crest Trail does NOT run up the firebreak, but runs along a contour from above the Cobb Estate for a mile or so to the west. I think later posts say something about that].

This entire trail is on a south-facing, low-altitude slope of the San Gabriel Mountains. In short, don't expect to "get away from it all." And don't take this hike in the heat of summer. It's hilly and exposed. It is, however, something different, and allowed me to connect two trails that I have taken many times before.

The only other thing this trial lets you see is an eclectic collection of homes. This one here reminded me of the Getty Center



Here's a geodesic dome:



And here's some with wildflowers blooming below:

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Hike 24--Monrovia Falls




Just wanted to squeeze in a little hike between the rain. Today was Hike 24, Canyon Drive to Monrovia Canyon Falls. ~4.25 miles


There are several possible lengths for this hike. If you pay a $5 entry fee, you can drive in to the visitor center and have a 1.5 mile roundtrip hike. If you pay your fee and park at the lower lot, you've got a 3 mile roundtrip hike. If you want to save your $5, you can park down on Canyon Blvd, south of Ridgeside (observe the alternate-side parking restriction for streetsweeping). This adds roughly 1.2 miles or more to any round trip in Monrovia Canyon Park (depends on how many cars are there when you arrive, and how far down the street you need to park).

In my case today, it took about 15 minutes to get from my car to the Falls trailhead, and about 12 minutes to get back. It was also just under an hour to walk from the trailhead to the falls and back to the trailhead.


The picture above is of the waterfall, today. I also visited it once before, on Jan 13, as Hike #6.


Also, on Hike #12, Jan 27, I hiked from Canyon Blvd to Deer Park, which is listed as 3.2 miles from the start of the Boy Scout Road, one way. It was another .75 of a mile or so from the start of the Boy Scout Road to my car. Additionally, Hike #17 on Feb. 7, which I started on Melcanyon Drive in Duarte, ended at White Saddle, 4.6 miles from the Boy Scout Road.









Regarding the hike to Deer Park, that hike begins where the private Boy Scouts road splits from Monrovia Canyon Drive. Shortly the split, you begin a brief but steepish climb, to the top of Sawpit Dam.






The dam's been decommissoned. Even before it was decommissioned, they cut a "notch" in the dam to prevent it from overfilling and collapsing.

You continue past the dam on the paved but private (and closed to general motor vehicle use) road. After about 1 mile, the pavement ends. Just about that same point, you have the option of leaving the road to walk on a single-track trail. Or you can keep walking on the now-dirt road. The road is slightly longer, but the trail has more hills, and crosses several side-canyons on the way to "Deer Park."



Deer Park used to be a resort. Now, it's just a few walls of an old cabin, plus the remains of the rock remains of the stable.

You can continue a bit further up the canyon, but the way gets steep and difficult.

Or, you can get off the trail and rejoin the dirt road.

If you join the dirt road, another mile or so up brings you to White Saddle Junction. The reason for the name seems pretty apparent to me:

White Saddle


A white rock protrudes through the scrub, looking a little like a saddle.

From there, it's just 1.2 miles further to Mt. Bliss and 6 miles to Fish Canyon Road (Hikes #17 and 23).

Alternatively, it's 3.2 miles from White Saddle to Red Box-Rincon Road.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Hike 23: Mel Canyon to Mt. Bliss, Take 2

Gooseberry, lupine, two shots of bush sunflowers, and a broom (I think). Overcast day. Just a little sunshine on the way back, when I shot the sunflowers.


Small shot, but you might be able to see the outline of a turkey vulture. It took a little patience to get a shot with it flying behind the flowers.



Sunflower and bee.



Broom.
The main point of this hike was to cover some old ground. The first (and last) time I was here, I didn't get back until after sunset. It was impossible to follow the trail back to where I started from.
Today was easier. I started near where Melcanyon Road and Opal Canyon Road intersect with Brookridge Road. The hike guide I often rely on said the trail began at the top of Melcanyon. That's how I went up there last time. However, that sends you up an overgrown storm drainage ditch. After a few hundred yards, that drainage ditch led me to what looked like a driveway.
Today, I just went up the "driveway." Although there's a mailbox at the base of this "driveway" (I think it said 160), but this is actually a continuation of Opal Canyon Road, going a just a bit north of Brookridge.
You go up about 50 yards and there's a fence and gate with a house on your right. In front of you is a locked swinging gate blocking the road for auto traffic. However, the gate it is not posted no tresspasing, so I walked under the gate arm. Up another 50 yards or so, you come to a rectangular fenced area around a water tank. Walk around the fenced area and there's a hole in the foliage. Walk through there and there's a steep trail, with steps created by railroad ties pounded into the ground. This means you know you're on an improved trail, although it is very overgrown.
Follow this trail about a 1/4 mile and it reaches a flat area, almost like you could imagine horses walking in circles. Pay careful attention to where you came from, because on your return, the propery trail is far from obvious.
Turn left and the trail continues about 150 yards, soon passing through another bare area. Then it intersects with the Van Tassel Fire Road (1N36). Follow this trail up about four miles.
As you ascend the ridge (rather quickly!), you'll notice Sawpit Canyon to the west. You may also see the large dam at the end of Sawpit Canyon. If you keep going on the road you're on long enough, you'd intersect with the dirt road that comes out of Sawpit Canyon.
To the east is Fish Canyon, which I posted about previously.
Shortly after the road begins descending (after about 3.5 miles from when you intersected the road), you'll see another fire road, making a sharp right, to the south. About twenty yards after staring along that fire road, you'll notice another clear trail/overgrown road, heading sharply to the left (east). This trail runs along the ridge, heading up Mt. Bliss. You'll pass under some high-tension powerlines along the way. Lots of buckwheat and yucca on the way up, and a lot of mazanita near the broad summit.
There's a "trail registry" in a zip lock in a coffee can at the summit.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Hike 22: Chantry Flats, Feb. 16, 2010




Today's hike was from Chantry Flats to Sturdevant Falls, then back to the Sturdevant Trail, then north to the Mount Zion trail to Mount Zion, then south to the Lower Winter Creek Trail, back to Chantry Flats. 9-10 miles, total.

Sturdevant Falls was flowing nicely (see second picture, taken on the 16th). That means the stream you need to cross several times to get to the falls was also a little higher. Still, it was nothing compared to getting to Eaton Canyon Falls last week.

Compare yesterday's view with the picture taken last month. I was standing slightly further away and with a higher vantage point, but it's the same general angle.

Interesting Contrail from the top of Mount Zion.





The plane was flying left to right. It's at the tip of the white part of the contrail. The sun was off to the left, so the contrail cast a shadow that extended ahead of where the plane was.

The last picture is of upper Sturdevant Falls. It's one of numerous cascades (or small waterfalls) that are immediately above Sturdevant Falls. You can see those by taking the lower Sturdevant Trail (instead of the Gabrielino Trail). Both trails split to the north and west of the Sturdevant Falls Trail just before Fiddler's Crossing.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Hikes 18 and 19: Rubio Canyon Falls, Including Thalehaha Falls

I think this is the prettiest waterfalls I've seen in the Angeles National Forest.

Thalehaha Falls is up Rubio Canyon. The trailhead is hidden away between a couple of houses at the corner of Pleasant Ridge Drive and Rubio Vista Road, a bit east of Lake and north of Altadena. It's the last of the "easily" accessible falls in Rubio Canyon. On the way here, you'll also pass Moss Grotto and Ribbon Rock Falls.

Thalehaha dwarves them all. It's an 80 foot drop that's best viewed around noon, local time. That's because the falls slice through a narrow gap in the wall. Earlier or later and the waterfall is in shade.

From the trailhead, the trail is initially well-defined. After about .5 mile, you'll pass the foundation of an old bridge or pavilion. The main trail then angles sharply to the left, up the incline and on to Echo Mountain. That trail is extremely steep. In places, there are ropes tied to trees to help you ascend.

To see the waterfalls, however, go the other way. A less-clearly defined trail goes down to the river. Follow it along the streambed, crossing the water several times. In 1/4 of a mile, you'll be at the base of Moss Grotto and Ribbon Rock Falls.

Most hikers will stop here. However, you may notice a trail that heads up the canyon, to your right. It's also relatively well defined, but very steep. Head up that way. A faint trail turns left almost immediately after you started your ascent. That leads you to the top of Moss Grotto and to Grand Chasm Falls.

I don't recommend this diversion because it's kind of steep and you'll be pushing down a lot of rocks. Also, the payoff is relatively modest.

Instead, continue up the canyon. When that trail appears to fade out below a large rock (150 yards or so), you may see another trail heading off to your LEFT (I had "right" on an earlier version of this post--I get turned around a lot!). It soon runs through a whole lot of deer grass. Follow that one. It's also steep, but not dangerously so. In another 75 yards or so, you'll come to a large rock outcropping with plenty of room to sit. That's the overlook for Thalehaha Falls. The falls will be in front of you, to the north. If it's clear, downtown will be visible behind you, to the south. Enjoy the view!

If you continue to the east of the ridge, a difficult trail will take you to an overview of Leontine Falls. It then heads down into the canyon, then back up another canyon. You'll discover that Rubio Canyon stream has two forks. That's why Leontine Falls (which is one fork) has so much less water coming down it in comparison to Thalehaha Falls, which is after the two forks have merged.

I do not recommend continue past the Thalehaha Falls overlook because, again, the trail is extremely steep and the payoff is relatively small. You'll be pushing down a LOT of rocks, and you'll have to rely on ropes tied to trees left by people you don't know some unknowable period of time ago and of unknown strength and security.

Hike 21: Devil's Punchbowl and Devil's Chair







Some shots from my last hike, February 14, 2010. The top left is Mt. Williamson, visible for much of the hike between Devil's Punchbowl and Devil's Chair. Williamson is 8214" tall. It's actually only a mile or so from the Angeles Crest Highway, and bit more from Azusa Blvd. However, there's way too much snow to hike to it now. Also, Angeles Crest Highway is closed due to storm damage. I hope to hike to it later in the summer.
The rest of the shots are from the area around Devil's Punchbowl. Devil's Chair was a nice hike and the views were nice, but the views did not translate to good photos.
At the Punchbowl, there's a 1 mile looop that goes down into the Punchbowl then climbs back out. There's also a short nature trail that stays up top. The stream shot and the rocks on the left were from the loop. You may be able to make out a few people in the bottom right corner of the rock shot. They give you a sense of the scale of these rocks. Or you may not be able to see them, at all. I can only see them because I know where they are.

Same with the last shot. The shot at the bottom right is from the nature trail. These rocks are to the north of Devil's Punchbowl. People were climbing on these rocks, too. They're standing on the crest to the right, just right of the last fin.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Hike 14: Fish Canyon Hike, Feb 1, 2010











One of the hikes I have already taken was to Fish Canyon Falls, the long way. This was on Feb. 1, 2010.

To get to the trailhead, taking Huntington Drive to Encanto Drive. Head north. The parking lot for this trailhead is somewhat tricky to find, if only because you pass a whole lot of "No Parking Anytime" signs along Encanto Drive. Shortly after you pass the sign for an Equestrian Center, you'll see a clearning on the left side of Encanto Drive. There are no signs pointing to this lot, and no signs in the lot indicating you are at a trailhead. However, after you park, walk, to the northwest corner of the lot, and you'll find a trail heading through the brush. Follow that a few feet and you'll see a sign verifying that you are at a trailhead.

It's an intimidating sign, full of warnings about the dangers of hiking, wild animals, ticks, etc. If you dare to continue, you'll pass behind a horse property. Shortly after passing this, your ascent begins. It'll continue steeply for about 45 minutes (if you are walking at a slow but steady pace). Finally, you level off and feel like you're at the crest. Not quite.

You drop some, into a thicket of bushes. You rise some. You eventually find yourself walking along a chainlink fence. There's a dirt road on the otherside of that fence. When the fence finally ends, you should continue walking in the direction you were heading. In about fifty yards, you'll see a sign pointing you to the left, up a very steep bulldozer cut in the mountain. Head up that way. In another fifty yards, it splits. Left is extremely steep. Right is only very steep. They join up shortly, so it's up to you. Personally, I'd take the left.

Five or ten more minutes and you begin a steep descent into Fish Canyon. Slowly, the noise the mining operation will give way to the sounds of rushing waters. As hour two of your hike ends, you should join the old Fish Canyon Trail. A self-congratulatory sign will greet you.

Turn left. After passing the remains of some old cabins and several informational signs, you'll have reached Fish Canyon Falls. Enjoy the sounds and sights, then return the way you came.

The pictures appear in this post in the reverse of the order I posted them. The last picture is looking down Fish Canyon when I was about halfway down to the canyon trail. The second to last picture is a blow-up of the last picture. Note that, above the conveyor system that you saw in the middle of the last picture, there were large trucks. That puts the scale of what you saw in the last picture into perspective.

The main Fish Canyon Falls has three parts, the lowest of which seems the tallest and most impressive. There's a shot of the full falls, and one of just the lowest falls. At the base of the lowest falls is a pool. Another falls is created where the pool exits. One of the shots shows the lowest of the main falls, the pool and tree, and the next fall, dropping into yet another pool.

The few descriptions I could find of this hike mostly warned people from attempting it. They said the trail was dangerously steep, unmaintained, and overgrown with poison oak. They were partially right.

The trail is crazy-steep. It hot weather, it might be unbearable. In cool winter weather, it was only very tiring. It is so steep that some slipping and sliding is inevitable, even with lug-soled boots. However, there was evidence of recent trail maintenance. Green branches with green leaves were found at several points along the trail, indicating a trimming within the week. Older branches were also piled in several spots.

Cuts for steps were also visible, although they were quickly being worn down.

I did not see any poison oak. Then again, it was winter. (I returned to this hike several months later, and the poison oak was abundant!)

However, even without poison oak, wearing long pants and long sleeves is a reasonable precaution, given the density of plant growth along this trail. Lots of water is a good idea, too. Also, bring food to refuel your body, because the return trip is going to be as hard as the arrival trip.

I was also aided by a soft ground from recent rains. That let my boots sink into the ground to give me traction on the steep climb and descent. In drier weather, not only would the temperature be a killer, but drier earth would be more slippery. It would still not be what I would consider dangerous, but it certainly would be tougher. Take care. A walking stick might help you maintain balance. Pay attention. Otherwise, wait for a day when Vulcan Mining is offering a free shuttle ride to the trailhead.

My Own 100 Hikes

I saw an article in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune last month ago about a guy who finished 100 hikes in just seven months. It seemed like a worthy goal. So I decided I'd adopt that as my goal this year: 100 hikes in 2010.

I've already finished 20 hikes this year. I won't put in recaps of all of them, but I think I will post about a number of them.

My definition for a hike is a three-mile minimum in a day, taking me someplace I could not otherwise drive to on pavement, and being in a general "wild" state. Walking around a developed park won't count. But walking in Griffith Park on a trail or dirt road to get to the Hollywood sign? Yeah, that one counts.