Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Hike 2012.013 -- Arroyo San Miguel, Puente Hills

Hiked Tuesday, March 13.

I enjoyed the second weeknight of post-DST sunshine with a short after-work hike.
The Arroyo San Miguel/Arroyo Pescadero trail head is off of Colima Road in Whittier, just 1/2 mile or so north of Mar Vista. After you pass Mar Vista, there's a large church parking lot on your right. Right after that, there's another light, with a baseball field, also on your right. Almost immediately after that, be on the lookout for a left turn lane. Get in the turn pocket and cross over southbound Colima to enter the parking area for Arroyo San Miguel/Arroyo Pescadero trailhead.

The trail map for this area is here. There's a portapotty and water fountains in the parking lot.

Whether taking the Arroyo Pescadero or the Arroyo San Miguel trail, you start out by heading towards the south end of the lot, where the trail climbs up and to your right. Make a right at the first junction. Arroyo Pescadero would require a quick left. Arroyo San Miguel requires continuing forward.

I chose Arroyo San Miguel trail because the last time I was here, the area was undergoing substantial habitat restoration. A whole dumpster was filled with wild mustard that had been pulled. Eucalpytus trees had also been cut down. I was curious what the place looked like, now.

Arroyo San Miguel gains a bit of altitude as it more or less parallels Colima Road. Then it drops down and to the right, to pass under Colima Road. In fact, the entire hike is within sound (and, usually, sight) of Colima Road. This is no wilderness experience, that's for sure. But I knew that starting out.

The area that had been roped off as under habitat restoration back in 2010 was still roped off and under habitat restoration. Wild mustard was rare, but still popping up in places. More common were the native plants that are "supposed" to be growing here: buckwheat, sage, bush sunflowers, etc.

Small rodents (small rabbits and ground squirrels) were common, and evidence of their burrows was widespread. Above the hills, turkey vultures and red tailed hawks rode thermals, probably looking for careless rodents.

Large mansions stand atop the east side of the ravine. Colima, though not always visible, can be heard on the west side. The arroyo bottom is covered in vegetation. A few palm trees rose above the more typical arroyo plants: beavertail cactus, pepper trees, desert willow, and the like.

The pepper trees had what looked like flowers. Actually, I think they were the burst fruit, but they were pink, like flowers.

I walked to the end of the trail, which requires a slight inline. It terminates at what I think is a private road.

Bound as it is by homes and Colima Road, I suspect wildlife in here is mostly limited to dog-sized mammals--raccoon, skunk, porcupine, etc. Deer probably appear in the area, but mainly stay on the other side of Colima.

Made my way back to the car: 3.6 miles roundtrip.

Once near the parking lot, I took a short detour to look over into Arroyo Pescadero. I was thinking of hiking there the next day, but wound up heading to Powder Canyon, instead. Won't be able to post that one until at least tomorrow, and probably Friday or Saturday.

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