Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Hike 2012.028 -- Garcia Trail to Glendora Mountain

Hiked Monday, May 7.

As I drove up from work on Monday afternoon, the 605 freeway looked like it might be moving okay past the 10, so continued north, into Azusa. I continued north on I-605 (San Gabriel River Freeway) to the 210, then took I-210 (Foothill Freeway) east, to Azusa Avenue. I went north on Azusa, through "Old Town" Azusa, past the new Target store, to Sierra Madre Blvd. There, where the venerable old Stop-and-Go Store (I'm actually not sure if it's still a Stop-and-Go) sits on the southwest corner of Sierra Madre and San Gabriel Canyon Road, I made a right. (Actually, you could take the soft right just before you reach Sierra Madre Blvd. That's Azusa Drive. It hits Sierra Madre about 30 yards west of where San Gabriel Canyon Road does).

Head east about 1.5 miles, passing through two traffic circles. The Garcia trailhead is right behind the fire station that's on the northeast rim of the second traffic circle. There's no parking on the south side of Sierra Madre here, so you can either pass through the traffic circle, then make a U-turn and park on the north side of Sierra Madre, just before the traffic circle, or you can exit the traffic circle at your first right, which would be Macneil Drive. Because of the limited parking on Sierra Madre, most hikers end up parking on Macneil. In fact, right now, I'm looking at the google maps satellite photo of this traffic circle, and, sure enough, Macneil south of Sierra Madre is lined with cars.

Dan Simpson gives the distance of the hike to Glendora Mountain (or Glendora Peak) as 4.8 miles roundtrip, with a net gain of about 1800 feet. Gross gain would be slightly more than that, since you give up a little altitude as you pass behind Azusa Peak, on your way to Glendora Peak.

The charge up the Garcia trail is a steep one, though a surprisingly large proportion of hikers on Monday afternoon and evening were committed to running up and/or down the trail. I stepped aside at least a dozen times to let runners go past or around me. Nearly all of them continued their jog without even a grunt of acknowledgement.

I maintained a modest but continuous pace up the trail, stopping only occasionally to take some pictures. There were plenty of sunflowers in bloom, as well as sage, fountain grass, wild mustard, and other flowers I did not recognize. I saw a relatively small number of blue penstemon. Most of these, I've taken many photos of recently, so I kept my walking, huffing and puffing up the steep incline. Probably nothing this steep beyond the Poopout Trail in Glendora, or some of the trails in Rubio Canyon.

It was another hazy afternoon, so views were somewhat limited to the south and west. The Santa Ana Mountains did rise above the haze, to the southwest. The views to the north were better, though not crystal clear.

Once I reached the crest of the ridge, the trail leveled off for a while, and the crowds thinned. Most people either pause at the crest, or continue to the top of nearby Asuza Peak. Instead, I continued around the back (north side) of Azusa Peak). A partial but robust canopy of oaks (with a lower canopy of poison oak!) gave me some shade. The north slope here has a really thick mantle of trees. It's quite a contrast to the south-facing side.

I got to enjoy ten or fifteen minutes of solitude as I made my way towards Glendora Mountain, to the east. On that last 1.2 miles or so, I passed only the exer-hiker/mountain biker pair that had passed me near the start of my hike.

Although there's a trail that heads up the west slope of Glendora Peak, I continued around to the east side, then took the use trail on that side up towards the rounded crest of the mountain. As I started up, I saw an adult deer buck kept an eye on me. I moved slowly, firing off a few frames from my camera as I walked. Soon, I saw there were actually two bucks up there.

I debated turning around and leaving the summit to them. But, eventually, they retreated to the thin band of oaks along the north side of the ridge, and I continued to the summit marker, taking a round-about route to give the deer some space.

At the summit is a stake with the numbers, "3547," which you might think is the altitude of this point, but is apparently not. So what do the numbers mean? I have no idea.

I spent only a few moments there before going back the way I came. I didn't want to be too big of an imposition on their evening feeding.

On my way back along the dirt road that is the trail here along the ridge, I enjoyed the view back down the trail, with Azusa Peak now well below where I stood. Then a vehicle that looked an awful lot like an oversized, gasoline-powered golf cart came rolling up the hill, with a middle aged man at the wheel and about five youths and two trashcans in the bed. Not sure where they were going or what they were up to, but I suppose it's their road and their land I'm walking on.

Got back to my car about two hours after I left, feeling great and happy about getting the opportunity to take this late-afternoon/early evening hike in the San Gabriel Mountains.


  1. Are you hiking in this heat we've been having or are these photos from when it was cooler? I just hate the heat and don't get out for many hikes during the summer. Also afraid of the rattlers.

  2. Hiked in the heat. Monday was pretty warm, but I didn't get on the trail until 5pm, so the temperatures had passed peak. Still, yeah, it was hot and I worked up a sweat. But we have low humidity in southern CA, so it wasn't that bad, and it was very comfortable on the return leg of the hike (all down hill!).

    I'm probably going to be doing a lot of after-work hikes this summer, so the heat will definitely get worse.

  3. Oh, and regarding the rattlers: They're more afraid of you than you are of them. They *really* don't want to waste their venom on you.

  4. Nice write-up! We'll have to check this one out sometime when we want a good workout, yet don't have time to venture far from home. And it's always nice to discover trails that allow us a look back over home below.

    -- Colleen @ Greene Adventures

    1. The Santa Anas are pretty distinctive. Unless it's really smoggy, you can look back at them from anywhere in the San Gabriels or Puente Hills with an unobstructed view in that direction. I also saw them from the opposite side as I headed up the Marion Mountain Trail to Mt. San Jacinto. But never actually hiked in them! One of these days. . . .

  5. Glad you got to enjoy my home trail. It looks like it's a lot browner than when I hiked it in March.

    And Kay don't worry about rattlesnakes. The majority of bites are on males between 15-25, who are drinking, and are playing with the snake. So you won't need to worry.:-)

    1. Funny about the snake bites. ;D

      The tall grasses are definitely drying out, although the deer kept chewing away at mouthfuls of them even as they were watching me!

  6. I love your page, my husband (and now dragging our kids) and I have enjoyed a couple of your suggested trails and they have been worth the drive, hike, sweat and even some scrapes lol. A small suggestions, could you add a level of difficulty or maybe if you would recommend it for kids. If you already have it, sorry I missed it. I know sometimes you include it in your trail description but maybe below the heading or at the end of the narrative. Thank you for posting your amazing findings!!!

  7. Thanks for the comments, and I'm glad you're having fun.

    Levels of difficulty are always hard to put down on a hike, because they're so subjective. Even for the same person, depending on what other hikes you've done recently, some thing can be moderate one year and difficult the next. But I will keep your suggestion in mind, and try to be a bit more explicit about strenuousness.