Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Hike 27: West End of Altadena Crest Trail

Today I walked the far western end of the Altadena Crest Trail (ACT). I parked in Loma Alta Park, off of Sunset Ridge, just north of Loma ALta. The trail officially crosses the park and ends on Lincoln, and I did walk past that area at the end of my hike. However, first, I headed north on Sunset Ridge. The sign above is on the east side of Sunset Ridge, just north of the parking lot. It marks the beginning of the "real" trail.

Past the sign, the trail descends into what I will call The Bottomlands. There's a road to your left that you can't see. There's the sides of the large debris catch basin to your right. Today, water trickled in the low spots, but obviously during heavy rainfalls the water dug down 30-50 feet through the top soil.

You're surrounded by the usual foothill plants. I noticed a lot of black sage. Numerous live oak were also apparent.

With the water running, there were a number of native (non-sparrow) birds bounding about. There were also some nice flowers blooming. Don't know the species.

There was also a lot of what I believe is poison oak. That's my guess, based upon what I saw at the Eaton Canyon Nature Center. It's possible their signage is wrong, of course. However, I get the impression that the poison oak goes mostly dormant during the winter. In the spring, it sprouts back up, and looks to me an awful lot liked dogwood. In this picture, it's mixed in with some sort of scrub oak and a vine that's also common in the area.

This trail goes up and down several hills, and it's steep in places. It's also well-worn, with plenty of evidence of equestrian visitors.

After much climbing, you soon find yourself looking down on what turns out to be Chaney Trail. A little bit past the gate that's been locked (even though I'm pretty sure it's below the official Station Fire closure), this trail splits. Both soon hit Chaney Trail (road). The lower branch does this faster. On the other side of Chaney Trail is another sign for the ACT. The path then leads you down another 200 yards or so, eventually reaching Alzada Drive. There, I reached a one-sided Altadena Crest Trail sign. In other words, while all the other signs pointed both ways to indicate which way the trail ran, this one only pointed back. I thus concluded I was at the end of this segment fo the ACT, and headed back. Apparently, the section between Alzada and somewhere east of Taos Road is the unfininshed portion of the Trail.

I walked back the way I came, then looped around Lincoln and vicinity, checking to see if the trail continued further west than Lincoln. Got back to my car about noon, a little over 90 minutes after I left. I'm calling it three miles.

Incidentally, before I began my hike, I drove some of the roads around where I exited yesterday. I could not find any new access points to the ACT. However, I did pass a number of people with backpacks and walking sticks. I think the ACT study group must have been out checking for possible routes. Good for them.

I also saw that there's going to be filming at Loma Alta Park tomorrow. There was filming at the park on Mt Curve yesterday. The day I drove up Chenay Trail to try to get to Millard Canyon Falls, there was filming there that day, too. There seems to be a lot of filming up in these parts.

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