Thursday, July 29, 2010

Hike 77: Chapman Trail and Icehouse Canyon Trail

Hiked Thursday, July 29. Short loop, about 7.7 miles.

I initially planned to hike Ontario Peak today. However, because my wife said she was going to try to get the zippers on my "regular" backpack today, I took an older one, instead. Unfortunately for me, I forgot to transfer the sunblock, and I didn't discover that until I was at the trailhead.

Yes, I could have just driven five minutes back into Mt. Baldy Village and bought some. But because I'm a man, I hate backtracking. Instead, I just figured on taking a shorter hike, so I wouldn't burn myself too bad. And that made this the perfect time to explore the Chapman trail.

Out of the Icehouse Canyon trailhead, you head about one mile up, same as usual. Just before you reach the 1 mile stake (stakes are pounded into the ground on both the Chapman and Icehouse Canyon trails at one mile intervals), there's a sign at the junction, indicating a sharp and steep left turn to the Chapman Trail. This trail is much less traveled than the main Icehouse Canyon trail, simply because it's a longer way to get to the same place (the two trails meet up again after 2 miles on the Icehouse Canyon Trail, or after 3.7 miles on the Chapman Trail).

The main advantage of taking a longer distance to get to the same place is that the vertical climb rate is obviously much less. For that reason, I felt that I was moving a lot faster along the Chapman trail than I did when I took the Icehouse Canyon trail. I didn't actually check my watch to confirm this, however. It just seemed easier.

The secondary advantage is that the views are much more open. As opposed to staying down near the river, the Chapman trail rides high. It also heads surprisingly far to the north (not literally surprising, because you can see it on the map, but I still found myself surprised by how wide the canyon was up here). Parts of it are open to southern exposure, but a lot of the earlier sections are west-facing and shaded.

On the Chapman Trail, the only marked destination before the Icehouse Canyon junction is Cedar Glen. Oddly enough, I didn't see any cedar at Cedar Glen--just pines and fir. Then again, I wasn't really LOOKING for cedar--I was just surprised that the little grove right near the sign was entirely non-cedar.

Although it's mostly up, there's at least one fairly long (maybe 80 foot?) altitude loss along the way to the Icehouse Canyon trail. Also, there are a few places where the trail is crossed by down trees, and you're walking with one foot on the tree and one foot on the ground. It's also narrower than the Icehouse Canyon trail. On the other hand, it was much less crowded, and that was nice. I think I saw 7 other people during my 3.7 miles on the Chapman Trail; I saw that many people within ten minutes of heading down the Icehouse Canyon Trail.

Because of the shortness of my hike, I didn't stop to eat, and I came down with a lot more food and liquids than I intended. I did offer both liquid or foods to the first few hikers I ran into on the way down Icehouse Canyon. I enjoyed chatting with them, but they declined my offer. I learned that both groups were just drinking water from the spring that's about 3/4 mile below the saddle, and just before the junction. The water comes right out from under the trail, so I suppose it's got to be relatively clean. But I've always been a coward when it comes to untreated water, so I've never drunk from this spring.

I was back in my car by about 2:20pm. I think I started around 10:30am, so I figure less than four hours on the trail. Tonight, I find my left arm a little itchy and warm, so I know I got slightly burned. Not nearly as bad as it would have been if I tried the whole hike, though.


  1. great post! thanks for sharing. i'm definitely going to do this considering i go to Chapman University

  2. It's funny how many mountains are named after local historical figures (and, hence, places with streets, parks, cities, or schools named after them).

    Icehouse Canyon is a nice spring or even summer hike. There's almost always columbine blooming where the water runs over the trail.