Sunday, August 5, 2012

Hike 2012.052 -- Jones Peak Loop from Little Santa Anita Canyon

Hiked Sunday, July 29. After having two previous hikes out of Little Santa Anita Canyon, I was resolved to "do" Jones Peak via the ridge route. Actually, I started out with the ambition of going all the way to Mt. Wilson, but this ridge route to Jones Peak was qwazy stupid.

As on the previous trip, I walked the Mt. Wilson Trail to just after the lookout (after the two fenced areas where the trail makes a long detour around a washed out section). then I took the narrow (though only briefly narrow) trail that heads south, towards the ridge.

Once there, I looked up at the slope and had some second thoughts. Then, as proof that two heads are not necessarily better than one, I saw a hiker coming down the hill. This provided proof positive to me that this was the route to take. So up I went. Very slowly.

I felt like I spent half the way up to the first level-ish area on my hands and feet, literally scrambling up the hill. Sure, you gain altitude fast, and the view backwards is nice, but the sandy areas and great steepness meant very few places where you could conveniently rest.

In fact, by the time I made the first level-ish area, this had already stopped being fun. And, unfortunately, this level area was less than a third of the way up.

I am not at all convinced that this route was significant-ly faster than just going up the "regular" route out of Little Santa Anita Canyon to Jones Peak. Had I reached the summit the first time I thought I was near it, yes. But there were several false summits (most of which were revealed to be false before you actually got near them, but which seemed from further down the mountain to be the top).

Even the last push, where it got less steep, was still plenty steep, with lots of dried buckwheat and sages to push through. I REALLY wasn't haven't having fun, any more.

I spent ten or fifteen minutes at the summit before heading back (actually, forward, north, down to Jones Saddle). Spent the entire time heading to the saddle debating if I would return via Bailey Canyon or via the Mt. Wilson Trail. The advantage of Bailey Canyon was I wouldn't have to climb any after returning to the saddle. Also, it wouldn't be as overgrown as the back way. However, it would require me to walk about 1/2 mile on surface streets. Somehow, I just hate having to take my lug soles over pavement.

In the end, I went with the "regular" way down from near Jones Saddle to Little Santa Anita Canyon.

As expected, it was somewhat overgrown. I've been finding dried California buckwheat, with their distinctive red heads, everywhere along my various lower-altitude hikes the past few weeks. They obviously did a lot of growing this spring because they're all encroaching on trails and overhanging road shoulders.

Fortunately, they have no spines, and do not appear to be of interest to ticks. I checked myself several times on the way down and found myself tick-free.

This connector trail is steep, and definitely longer in distance than the ridge route. But it more than makes up for the distance by being walkable on two feet.

As I descended back into Little Santa Anita Canyon, I saw a ravine with a small stand of conifers. Further down, I observed a thick canopy of deciduous trees, which nearly completely hide the canyon floor. One of the few open spots is what I assume to be the "Helispot" point on the trailhead map, which is signed as 2.7 miles from the trailhead.

Just before the connector trail connects with the Mt. Wilson Trail, it drops below the canopy level. This occurs in a small side canyon. It's well-covered in picturesque trees and their detritus.

Once back on the Mt. Wilson trail, it's about one mile above First Water, and about 2.5 miles back to the car. Within that first mile, I had an impressive view up at the ridge from which I had just descended. That's the second picture from the top. No wonder it's such a tough climb!

I'm calling it 6 miles for the day, and ridiculously steep. Won't be repeating this trip for a while.


  1. Looks intense. Hope you treated yourself to a well earned meal afterwards!

  2. It's so long ago now I don't remember what I ate when I got back home, but just thinking about this hike is making me hungry! The only thing I remember for sure is that I said "This sucks" about 40 times on the way up to Jones Peak. Definitely not going up that way again!

  3. I think this is different from the ridge route to Jones that I've done. Maybe I'll try it if summer ever ends.

  4. Really? I just assumed I was a wimp, because, and I can not stress this enough, this hike very rapidly became NOT fun!