Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Hike 2015.066 -- Devil's Canyon Trail, San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, CA

Hiked Friday, August 28. This was several hikes ago, and about 2 1/2 weeks ago, as well. Still many more hikes I need to blog.

This was my first visit to San Gabriel Mountains National Recreation Area. Which isn't to say that I haven't been in many places within the national monument before, but this was the first time I saw an actual sign with the words, "National Monument" anywhere in the forest.

The national monument is just under one year old, but this was the first concrete evidence I had seen on the ground of its existence.
My picking this trail was pretty random. I was just driving along the Angeles Crest Highway, trying to decide where to hike. Came across this one sort of by accident. Looked at the map, and determined it would do just fine for a day hike.
According to my Tom Harrison map, it was supposed to be 2.7 miles to the end of the trail, or 5.4 miles round trip. We were at moderate altitude (I'm figuring 5-6K), so I thought we might catch a little break from the triple digit temperatures of down in the basin.
Of course, like many areas in the mountains, there are trails, and their are trails. It's not always obvious when one ends or when one simply hasn't been very well maintained. I feel like I walked somewhat longer than 2.7 miles each way. That would be Lake Avenue to Echo Mountain-type distance, for example. And this felt much tougher.
With my moderately early start, I had some shade along the way, and the tempera-tures did not feel that bad. I was still plenty thirsty when I got back to town, however, despite drinking a lot of water on the trail.
At the start, you're looking right down Devil's Canyon. On the descent, there are plenty of trees. Near the bottom, you alternate sides of the canyon and lose a great deal of altitude on the way there.

I had no way of knowing when I had reached the end of the trail as indicated on the map, but I eventually came across a large flat area with a fire ring. As I said, this seemed to be well over 3 miles from the trailhead, but I can't be certain about the distance.
But the fire ring seemed like a logical place to turn around, so that, I did.

On the way back, I noticed a few patches of water. This was after almost two months of no rain, and some very high temperatures. This was also after an earlier hike that had me find Switzer's to be practically dry. So here, apparently, some patches of water make it through to near the end of summer, even in a drought year.
At the end, the trail just criss-crosses a dry wash bottom. Higher up, the canyon was quite narrow. The narrow areas were where the water still remained. On my way down, I spooked a small flock of California quail out from their water spot. Also found some flowers, both on the flat bottom area, and back up in the canyon.
This trail head was adjacent to Angeles Crest Highway, just south or west of the Chilao campground and visitor center. That's a fair drive, about 25 miles north of the Foothill Freeway (I-210). It's also not far from Newcomb's Ranch, in case you decide you want to eat or drink something after your hike.

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