Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Hike 2015.067 -- Sunset Ridge to Echo Mountain

Hiked Saturday, August 29. 5 miles. That would be a month ago. Still far behind in my blogging.

Don't remember the conditions of this hike, other than that there were plenty of flowers blooming.
Nothing like Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve State Natural Area in the spring time, of course. Nor, even like these same trails in the spring time. But, like many desert and semi-desert areas, there's a second season of growth, as you approach the fall. Also, some significant rainfall in July helped to prime things.

This was just a quick little dash into the foothills. While I usually park down near the Millard Canyon campground, this time, because the goal was Echo Mountain and I was somewhat limited on time, I decided to park up on the ridge.
To get to this trailhead, you go north on Chaney Trail, off of Loma Alta Drive. To get to Loma Alta Drive, you'd likely take the Foothill Freeway (I-210) to Lake or Fair Oaks. Either way, go north, then turn left when you reach Loma Alta (it's a good, long drive). In the case of Lake, you'll have no choice to turn left, since lake terminates at Loma Alta.
A few blocks after Fair Oaks (and several stop signs, as I recall), look for a flashing yellow light, hanging above the street. That's Chaney Trail. Turn right, there.
You're now on a narrow, two-lane road, that soon gets narrower and winding. When you reach the crest and start heading down, there's a small parking area to your right (and left). Note the no parking areas and the requirement to keep access to the gate open.
From here, you're far enough away from the camp-ground and picnic area that no Adventure Pass is required (the Adventure Pass requirement down in Millard Canyon is one of the reasons I often drive down there to park--the fee requirement means there's pretty much always parking down there, even as the cars are lining the corner of Lake and Loma Alta with hikers heading up to Echo Mountain.

Once parked at the crest, walk around the gate. First on your left will be a trail that heads down, to Millard Canyon. Skip that one. Another 1/4 or so further, another trail is on your left. This is the more scenic way to Cape of Good Hope.
You could also just stay on the pavement, but that's not very scenic. The pavement, by the way, is also known (at least on google) as Mount Lowe Road. It's the rail bed that the tracks used to follow on their way up to Mount Lowe.
Meanwhile, if you're on the trail rather than the pavement, do keep an eye out for mountain bikers. They can move fast. Some hang cow bells on their bike, so you can hear them coming, but some don't, and some move so fast that you have very little warning before they're on you.
The dirt trail rejoins the pavement in about two miles. You're once again on the rail bed. Head up hill a very short distance, and look for the trail, on your right, that follows a different old rail way, over to Echo Mountain. Evidence of bridges and rail bed will be visible all the way to Echo Mountain, just about a mile away.

Overall, this is quite similar in distance, and has the same end point as the Sam Merrill up to Echo Mountain. But this way is a whole lot less crowded, though with the trade off of more mountain bikes.

I took a number of hikes from Millard Campground in August and September, at least three of which I have yet to blog. Much work to do, yet.

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