Saturday, March 13, 2010

Hike 33: Mount Wilson Trail to Bailey Canyon

[edited March 14, with some flower identifications added by checking this website:]
Wednesday, March 10. Coming from the south, there are about five trails up Mount Wilson. My third or so hike of this series was up the Old Mount Wilson Toll Road. I think that's the easiest way up, because it's wide and relatively consistent in its climb. Upper Winter Creek (from Chantry Flats) is the second way I went up. Sturdevant Creek (also out of Chantry) would be a third way up, and it was how I came down on that hike. The Rim Trail is a fourth way up, but it's currently closed as part of the Station Fire recovery order.

The fifth way up is the Mount Wilson Trail. It's the original way up, that the Gabrielino took, prior to the construction of the Toll Road. It's also the first way I went up Mount Wilson, over twenty-five years ago. But I hadn't been up recently, in part because the trail was closed for a while after the January rains.

Since I was just up Mount Wilson a few days previously, I didn't feel the need to go all the way back up, again. Instead, I figured on making it a shorter loop: Up the Mount Wilson Trail, then west on the Toll Road, then down the firebreak and into Bailey Canyon. That should be about five miles each way, except I took longer because I made a wrong turn on foot when I was back in Sierra Madre.

The Mount Wilson trailhead is north of Miramonte Ave, about 1/4 mile east of Baldwin Ave. The Bailey Canyon trailhead is off of Carter, about 1/2 mile west of Baldwin. If you're at Bailey Canyon Park and head east on Carter, it eventually runs into Miramonte, so walking between the two trailheads if you parked at one but came out of the mountains at the other is not a problem.

There's a small museum house at the corner of Miramonte and Mount Wilson trail. In front of the house is what I believe to be an eastern redbud tree. This week, it was in full bloom:

There is a limited amount of parking at the very bottom of Mount Wilson Trail (road). Most people park on Miramonte and walk up Mount Wilson Trail (road) to the actual trail.

Lots of flowers in the lower reaches. Most of the species are the same as at other recent hikes that I've posted about here. One new one was this yellowish gold flower, pictured below.

[western wallflower]

I saw this one only within about a 1/4 mile of First Water. This is the first major landmark along this trail, and the sign at the trialhead says it's 1.5 miles to First Water. There's a small stream that flows through here. In the old days, I guess you and your horse would drink up here. Nowadays, most people avoid drinking water from the mountains unless its been treated.

Other flowers I saw included this largish white flower and these bundles of purplish flowers on what looked to be some sort of oak tree. There were also these small purple "belly flower" I've photographed before.

[South coast morning glory]

The second major landmark along the Mount Wilson trail is "Orchard Camp," where a few stone walls indicate an old resort near here. The trailhead sign said this was 3.5 miles from the start. Which means this is (according to the sign) the halfway point between Sierra Madre and Mount Wilson.

Just before Orchard Camp, a huge oak tree is fallen across the trail. You can easily go under the tree, but it's such a huge tree I shudder to think at the sound it made when it fell.

From here, the trail climbs rather quickly. Before long, you break out of the oak canopy and find yourself making your way through a shrubs of Manzanita. At this point, you conclude you're nearing Mazanita Ridge. This area tends to be the steepest, and to feel the hottest in summer.

When you get to the actual ridge, you'll see a solid-looking bench, and another mileage sign. About 1/2 mile later, you've hit the Toll Road. The sign at the trailhead said this was 5.8 miles from your start. However, the sign at the junction says you still have 1.75 miles to Mount Wilson, which means the math from the top is inconsistent with the math fromt he bottom (a common occurance with these
signs in the Angeles).

Folks destined for Mount Wilson would turn right here, with just under 2 miles to go to the top. As for me, I headed left. It was just 1/2 mile or so to the firebreak (mentioned in the previous post). This day, I headed down the firebreak (it's pretty steep, but much of the dirt is soft enough to give you good traction on the way down.

I assumed the first peak you ran into was Hastings Peak, but there is no marker or other indication on this peak. By contrast, the second peak from the top (slightly lower) has a USGS marker, a cairn and other indications that this is the semi-named peak.

Down from this ridge, it's still steep. After 1/2 mile, you're at Jones Saddle. The sign in Bailey Canyon says it's 3.3 miles from Bailey Park to Jones Peak, so it should be about three miles from Jones Saddle to Bailey Canyon. Incidentally, just before you got down to Jones Saddle from Hastings Peak, you cross another junction, to the semi-official trail from Jones Saddle to the Mount Wilson Trail. That's the route down I took when I did my first Bailey Canyon Trip.

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