Friday, March 25, 2011

Hike 2011.018 -- Rubio Canyon

Hiked Friday, March 25. I've been doing a lot of nearby (for me) waterfall hikes recently. That's a result of several things: 1) Lots of rain, which means high water flows down the various falls; 2) Lots of days when rain threatens, which means I don't want to drive too far or hike too long; 3) No Adventure Pass, which limits my choices until I eventually splurge on the pass; 4) Rain also means the trails in the Puente Hills are often closed, waiting for the 48 hours without rain or threat of inclement weather. That eliminates additional nearby trails I might otherwise be using.

Today, I kept watching the weather. When I was sure it was going to hold dry for the rest of the evening, I decided to go. That, and I was sitting around munching on way too much junk food. Best way to stop eating is to go some place where there isn't any food, and to be busy enough doing something so you don't miss it. Hence: HIKING!

I've written up my hikes in this area several times this year already, (and also a few times last year) so I'm leaving out many details of the hike. I've also included pictures of all of these waterfalls before, but you might be curious, just to be able to compare flow levels at different times.

However, one that was new since my last visit was what looked like a trail register. It was on the left side of the trail, just past the house, with the letters AFC on top. Inside were flyers for the Arroyos and Foothills Conservancy, and a sign-up sheet for their e-mail list. There were also some of the black and white, photocopied, hand-drawn maps of Rubio Canyon in there.

I grabbed one of the AFC flyers, but now I can't figure out where I put it. I know it was in my pocket when I got back to my car, but I can't find it in the car or in the house. I'm sure it will turn up. In the meantime, here's a link to their home page.

The water was roaring nicely in the ravine as I made my way towards Moss Grotto and Ribbon Rock falls. There was noticeably more water coming over their lips today than the last time I was here, but they're still relatively modest waterfalls.

From there, I headed up the ravine to the right, passing to the right of two trees before looping back around to the left and following the trail to the Thalehaha Falls overlook. Took some pictures and video, then headed back down and took the detour to the top of Moss Grotto Falls and the base of Grand Chasm Falls. More pictures and video there. Grand Chasm is pictured at the top of this post, while the video I shot looking over the lip of Moss Grotto is at the end of this post.

It was just about 5pm when I got back to the base of Ribbon Rock Falls. This time, I noticed a rock outcropping protruding high above Moss Grotto. The rock overhand looked a little bit like a bird in flight, so I took another picture. Next, my plan was to head back down the creek, then take the trail up to Echo Mountain. Time was running short, but I thought I might still have time to finish this.

The trail up to Echo Mountain from this side begins by steeply switch-backing up along the old rail grade. Poison oak is common near the bottom. As you climb, you'll pass beams of wood and random rail segments, as well as several areas where the remnants of rock and cement footings remain.

After about 1/4 mile of steep climbing, you get a pretty good view of what I think its Moss Grotto Falls. There's a wider view here, where you can look up the canyon a bit. Below is a closer look at Moss Grotto.

After another 1/4 mile, the trail leaves the rail incline and begins a long traverse to the northeast. After yet another 1/4 mile, the trail to Echo Mountain begins climbing, again. However, at the same point, a clear use trail breaks off to the east. Partial views of Leontine Falls are visible from this split, and you can see that the trail heads towards a promontory that promises a nearly unobstructed view of Leontine Falls and the two unnamed cascades above it.

I took this detour, which is probably about 1/5 of a mile each way. In some spots, you've got to duck under trees and shrubs. You also have a few good views to the northwest, into another drainage that, today at least, had a roaring river with additional cascades in view. This would be Castle Canyon, which I attempted to explore a few weeks ago.

From the tip of the Promontory, the view is quite impressive. With the exception of a large tree near the base of Leontine, the falls is completely unobstructed. You can also look down stream at some very narrow canyons that contain Rubio Wash. You can also see the outcropping where you can view Thalehaha Falls, although the falls themselves are not visible anywhere along this trail. I'm wondering if there might be a cross-country route to view them from the west. I'm thinking not, since those falls are within a narrow slot that faces almost due south, and is well-guarded by canyon walls on the other three sides.

With the amount of time I spent taking pictures and videos and enjoying the view, I no longer felt I had time to make it up to Echo Mountain and back to my car before dark. So, when I got back to the trail, I took it back down to Rubio Canyon, instead. Made good time heading downhill and avoided the poison oak near the bottom. I was back in my car at 6:50pm. That's an hour and 50 minutes after I left the base of Ribbon Rock Falls. I did stop numerous and lengthy times to shot pictures and video, but I doubt the cumulative stopped time was more than 30 minutes. So I'm figuring at least 3 miles of walking from the falls. Figure 3/4 of a mile to get there and at least 1/2 mile from there to the Thalehaha Falls overlook and back. My best guess is 4.25 miles of walking for today, give or take 1/2 mile.

The video I shot over the edge of Moss Grotto Falls is below. When you watch the video, note that there's a person you can see near the center-top of the video near the end. He's standing some distance away from the base of Ribbon Rock. That helps put some perspective on the video, because Ribbon Rock isn't even very obvious when looking from the top.

video

6 comments:

  1. The promontory is called "The Throne". After the 1993 Kinneola Fire I surveyed and mapped the 19th and early 20th century trails of the Rubio watershed as a USFS volunteer. I have some trail suggestions you might be interested in.
    Best regards
    Paul Ayers

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  2. Suggestions are always welcome!

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  3. If you provide me a way to do it, I will transmit reports, maps, etc. to you. I just couldn't figure out how to do it through the blog site.

    Paul

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  4. You might try the Lone Tree Trail by way of the SCE Tractor Road. when you enter at the Rubio trail head, once past the passage between the house look right towards the RCLWA reservoir. To the left [north] you see a road remnant. This is the 1926 SCE Tractor Road used by SCE to install the earliest of the transmission towers on the ridges above. To get to the road walk up to the Camp Huntington Trail junction which is just after the first big washout on the Right of Way Trail. Go down the Camp Huntington, cross Rubio Creek, go downstream about 75 yds. and you will find the trail going up from the stream bed to the beginning of the road. The first 3/4 mile is on the AFC's new parcels and is in pretty good shape; I have begun restoring it for them. After you leave the AFC and enter the ANF [there is a sign] and you enter the Dry Canyon watershed the road degenerates but is passable. After another 3/8 of mile you will reach a County fire cistern [usually full of water this time of year-you can cool your feet]. Here the road splits. The east fork can literally be followed all the way to Eaton Canyon, but it is a little tricky as it crosses Dry Canyon. The west ascending fork goes up to the towers on the east wall of Rubio Canyon where it joins the original Lone Tree Trail which runs all the way to Inspiration Point passing the Carrie Mine, Panorama Point and Mount Muir. For now I would just go up to the towers and the flat part of the ridge because if you miss your turns on the lower switchbacks of the Lone Tree, you can get into trouble fast.

    Best regards
    Paul

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  5. Oh, and if you want to communicate off the blog site my e-mail is ayerspaul@sbcglobal.net
    Best regards
    Paul

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  6. Wow, that trip of yours sounds like an adventure! I've got a bit of a backlog of hikes I want to do because I wasn't able to hike this week and spring is rapidly turning into summer. Still hoping to do some desert wildflower hikes this year. But if we get a few spells of cooler weather in the next few weeks, this one has piqued my interest!

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