Thursday, December 6, 2012

Hike 2012.076 -- Sunset Ridge, Above Altadena

Hiked Thursday, November 22. I started my Thanks-giving Day with a shortish hike. I had also hiked the day before, but both were after nearly a week of inactivity. Unfortunately, it was also to be another week after this hike before I got out on the trail, again.

My initial goal was just to do Echo Mountain, again. However, parked cars lined Lake and Loma Alta, so I turned west when I reached Loma Alta, and decided I'd head over to Millard Canyon. I had once previously hiked from the ridge near Millard Canyon on the upper Sunset Ridge trail, on over to the Mt. Lowe Road. That was my plan on this day, too.

However, upon reaching the crest, the parking area was looking pretty full. Silly to think I would find parking on a day like this, I guess.

So I drove on down the other side of the ridge, where the road ends in the parking area for Millard Campground. The campground is actually open, now. However, the trail up Millard Canyon to the waterfall is still closed. That's a shame, since it is among the last easily accessible waterfalls on the front range of the San Gabriel Mountains that I have never been close to. I have only seen it from a distance, and that fact was not going to get changed on this day, either.

From the parking lot, a gated dirt road parallels a small stream and leads you towards the camp area. An extremely smelly restroom building is there, but there is no potable water. If you decide to picnic in this little hollow, bring what ever it is you plan to drink with your lunch with you.

About 100 yards from the parking lot (maybe less) is a sign that points towards the waterfall trail. I walked the additional 50 or 60 yards in that direction to confirm that the waterfall trail was still closed. Then I backtracked to the Sunset Ridge trail, which climbs out of the hollow and on up to Mt. Lowe Road. The trailhead sign there says it's .8 miles to Mt. Lowe Road, and 3.3 miles to Echo Mountain Trail (It would be another mile or so from there to Echo Mountain).

The switchbacks climbed swiftly, but I took it easy and the walk was quick. I did have to dodge a number of mountain bikers, however.

Once on Mt. Lowe Road, you turn left (uphill). After maybe 2/10ths of a mile, the Sunset Ridge Trail drops off from the road, heading to the left. The paved road continues straight ahead. Both meet up again another 2 miles or so ahead. However, the trail is definitely more scenic than the road.

There are nice views looking up and down Millard Canyon. Higher peaks are to your north.

There are also several waterfalls to view on the way up. The water flow on both I saw was very low, however. Also, Millard Falls itself was in shadow, and hardly visible on my way up. It stood out nicely on the way back, however. So the shots I included with this post were actually snapped on my return leg, when the sun was lighting up the falls nicely.

A sycamore stood at the top and bottom of the falls. Both hung on to about 1/5 of their leaves, all looking golden yellow.

Not long after passing the first waterfall, a cabin is down on your left. I am told that there's a trail there that would take you down to the stream, where you could work your way down towards the lip of the falls. There's no real view of the falls from here, however.

A bit further on, another series of waterfalls come down from the west. The last time I hiked here, the water was running pretty good, but, today, it was just enough to keep the algae green. ;D

This, despite the recent rains.

The watershed for this waterfall seemed pretty small, however, so I suspect it only roars immediately after a rain.

Nice views up Millard Canyon from here, though.

This, despite the recent rains. There were even a few flowers blooming, though they were far between. The ferns looked happy, though. Also, in a few spots, fresh growths of green grasses lined the single-track trail. You could almost pretend this was someplace besides the San Gabriel Mountains.

At least, until you break out from under the trees. Then the crumbly rocks and brownish hillsides, and haze to the south made this look exactly like the San Gabriel Mountains!

When the trail rejoins Mt. Lowe Road, you're within about 100 yards of the Echo Mountain trail, and under a mile to get to Echo Mountain, itself. However, since I've walked that trail before, I didn't bother crossing Mt. Lowe Road. I just snapped a few more shots, then returned the way I came.

The sign at this side of the trail said 3.3 miles back to Millard Camp-ground. But it was a quick 3.3 miles. Made it back to my car, and drove on back home with plenty of time to get ready for T-day with the family.

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