Saturday, December 31, 2011

Hike 2011.100 -- Schabaram Trail from Grand Avenue

Hiked Saturday, December 31. Ended my second 100-hike year with an easy walk in the Puente Hills.

When I visited my sister over Thanksgiving weekend, I noticed a "Schabarum Trail" marker on Grand Avenue, across the street from where Hillside Road comes in from West Covina.

Unfortunately, there is not actually a single Schabarum Trail; there are multiple spurs, all described by the same name and same signage. There's also a Schabarum Park in Rowland Heights. Several spurs of the Schabarum Trail encircle and intersect with the park there (south of Colima Road, which is south of the Pomona Freeway, or CA-60, and mostly east of Azusa Avenue). I could not find any maps of this section of the trail, so I was uncertain how far I would be able to walk or where this trail might lead me.

All these Schabarums, by the way, are named after a long-time former member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Pete Schabarum.

To get to the trailhead, take the San Bernardino Freeway (I-10), and exit at Grand Avenue. Head south. After about 1 1/2 miles, you'll pass Cameron Avenue, coming in from the west. There's a traffic light there. The next street coming in from the west (no traffic light) is Hillside Drive. There is no parking on Grand, so you'll have to park on Hillside, which is a very steep street. Be sure to set your parking brake and set your wheels properly against the curb (turning your front wheels towards the curb if you're pointing downhill, or away from the curb if you're pointing uphill).

Traffic on Grand moves fast, so you may wish to retreat down to Cameron to cross at the light.

On the east side of Grand, directly opposite Hillside, is a marker for the Schabarum Trail.

I've hiked numerous segments of the Schabarum (previously, the Skyline) Trail, including east from Schabarum Park, to Fullerton Road and Pathfinder Road. I was under the impression that this was as far east as the trail went (it also goes west, to near Rio Hondo College, with numerous access points from the north and south ends of the Puente Hills). If the segment of the Schabarum Trail I walked today somehow links with the other sections, I don't know how or where those trail segments would be.

From Grand Avenue heading east, the Schabarum Trail climbs very quickly up about sixty feet, giving you an immediate overview of your staring point. It then runs briefly level before dropping down the other side, into a pocket of live oak. Within that pocket, someone put some real effort to build a pair of huts, with roofs made of palm fronds.

Homes are on your right as you begin, and are later also on your left. Nonetheless, your path gives you a sense of separation from the city. After a brief walk with fences on your left, your path again begins a brisk climb. Cupulas, patios, pools, and some massive homes are visible all around you.

While still climbing to the south, there's a break in a fence to your right, and a narrow trail cuts down towards the streets. I did not follow that trail, so I don't know how far it goes.

Instead, I went up further, past a tiny fenced-in area that appears to protect nothing but a metal support structure. I suspect it was once a microwave relay station, but now it's just some metal poles.

Climbing higher still, your path approaches but does not summit the tallest point in the area. If you stay on the main dirt road, you eventually work your way about 270 degrees around the apex, losing a bit of altitude as you do so. From the other side, a steep and narrow path takes you to the top. A metal stake and a USGS marker is at the top.

If you continue along the dirt road, it dead ends in about 1/3 of a mile. A fence gate with a sign saying "No Trespassing/Dangerous Conditions" blocks further progress. Another sign on the gate says, "Private Property/Schabarum Trail is to the south." However, I did not see which path the sign was suggesting. There was nothing immediately to the south, so it's possible they intend you to backtrack to the earlier-mentioned hole in a fence, which was 3/4 of a mile or so back. That path is a narrow footpath, however, unlike the one- to two-lane width of most of the trail so far.

I returned towards my car. When I got back to Grand, I headed south, to Cameron. Although the sign at the base of the hill pointed the Schabarum Trail that way, I saw no indications at Cameron of which direction I should go, next. I'm not sure if it just goes along Grand or Cameron, but I definitely saw no trail to follow.

I crossed Grand at Cameron and walked back to my car.

Total walking time was about two hours, with plenty of time for pictures. I'm estimating my mileage at 3.5 - 4.0 miles.

Expansive views in all directions during most of this hike, although it was somewhat hazier today than in some recent days, and the low winter sun creates a lot of glare when looking to the south. Mount San Antonio College dominates the area immediately to the south for most of the latter part of this hike.

Between the ridge top and Mt. SAC, several steep ravines were currently covered with thick, green grasses. Near the bottom, some fall color remained. By their color, I'd assume they're black walnut trees, although they were way too far for me to make that guess with anything more than intuition.

A pair of casual hikers I ran into near the start of the hike said they thought this trail went all the way to near Cal Poly, Pomona. However, they themselves only went about 1/2 mile in.

Not sure if I could see Cal Poly before I reached the end fence. Couldn't even see the 57 freeway, which cuts south just before Cal Poly. The foreground hills got in the way. I did see several other access points, particularly coming in from the north.

The San Gabriel Mountains were obviously in the distance to the north. I could pretty easily make out the white "A" overlooking Azusa, and the observatory domes and antenna of Mt. Wilson and Mt. Harvard. The high peaks around Mt. Baldy appeared pretty much snow-free as seen from this perspective, although I'm sure the actual trails must still cross substantial areas of snow and ice.

To the west, haze made seeing downtown, Santa Catalina, and points west largely impossible.

Saw plenty of squirrels today, presumably gathering walnuts and acorn. Either saw several hawks, or one hawk, repeatedly. Got pretty close to the hawk, although my camera has an issue with focusing on moving objects. Did get to see it do its silent take off thing, which was a reminder of the many times I saw that in Kentucky. Other birds, as well, and one very impressive butterfly.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Hike 2011.099 -- Bonita Canyon -- San Bernardino National Forest, CA

Hiked Thursday, December 29.

Read this post on "Nobody Hikes in L.A." about six weeks ago. Hadn't ever heard of this waterfall before, discovered that it required no off-pavement driving, and figured it was a place I would have to visit soon. Well, today was "soon."

Took the Foothill Freeway (I-210) east, to I-15. Then, I-15 north about five miles, to Sierra Avenue. Exited, turned left, under the freeway, and drove north, past a gas station and a few other retail structures. After less than 1/2 mile, Sierra turns into Lytle Creek Road. I did not check my odometer to see how far to the Ranger Station, but I'd estimate it was at least another 4-5 miles of weaving road. The station is on the right side of the road, but is closed on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Today being a Thursday, it was closed.

Nonetheless, out in front of the station was a bulletin board. On the bulletin board was a flyer for the Bonita Canyon hike. I took a picture of it for reference as I continued north on Lytle Creek Road. Approximately one mile after the ranger station, there's a sign on the left side of the road for Green Mountain Ranch. The flyer said to park just after that turnout, so I slowed to make a U-turn. Turns out the truck in front of me also made a U-turn and parked on the west side of the road.

So when I got out of my car, I asked the guy who got out of the truck right in front of me, "You heading to the waterfall?"

He asked, "What waterfall?" I showed him the shot I took of the flyer at the ranger station, and he and his son decided to join me on this walk in search of Bonita Falls.

We went under the locked green gate in front of Green Mountain Ranch, and walked across the bridge that crosses Lytle Creek. Lytle Creek isn't flowing very high at the moment, and crossing it directly would not be impossible. But walking across the bridge, well, that's as easy as possible.

The Forest Service flyer then instructs you to head north along the creek, walking parallel to the fence (staying on the east side of the fence, which is public property). After a few hundred yards, the fence ended, and we continued, sticking on the south side of the wash. Several trails crisscross the wash. A whole lot of large driftwood is also in this wash, which gives you an idea of how powerful the water must flow through here during thunderstorms of with the spring snow melt.

According to the flyer, after about 1/2 mile of heading south, there's another wash, heading in from the south. We could hear the sound of running water as we approached the half-mile point.

The easiest way to the falls is to keep the creek on your right. It's probably no more than 1/4 of a mile after you start your ascent that you are suddenly confronted by a HUGE waterfall. I couldn't help but mutter, "Wow" to myself, when I first saw it.

It seems amazing that such a sight is located in southern California. It's probably the tallest single drop of water I've seen in southern California (although I've never stood at the base of Thalehaha Falls, so I can't say for sure if Bonita is taller--it definitely had more water flowing).

Although we saw no one on our way to the waterfall, we were at the falls for no more than 5 minutes before two more hikers joined us. Perhaps 10 minutes later, a father and three kids came up. Then another family, no more than 5 minutes behind them. On the way out, we passed maybe four more people coming in.

So it would seem that, on a late December weekday, once the temperatures warm up a little, this place gets LOTS of visitors. L

Returning with very few stops back to the car took about 40 or 45 minutes, and is supposed to be about 1.8 miles in length.

After returning to my car, I drove back to the ranger station. There's a 1/2 mile nature loop that is mentioned there, but which clearly is not well-maintained. Several large downed trees (burned several years ago) laid across the trail. Several nice views from this perspective, however.

There's a much better-maintained native plants garden closer to the ranger station. Metal bear, lynx and coyotes hide among the plants, as do actual cottontail and many birds. Many (but not all) plants are signed, providing a good opportunity to try to learn or relearn more plant names and uses.

I walked the 1/2 mile look, took short extensions along the dirt road that runs near the loop, and walked all the paved walkways of the native plants garden 2-3 times. The goal was to racked up enough extra distance to make the day somewhere in the neighborhood of my arbitrary 3 miles to qualify as a day of hiking.

Because of the recent warm weather, parts of the red bud in the garden have been fooled into thinking it's March or April.

Although the actual beds of Lytle Creek and the accompany-ing washes are pretty barren, the area in general seemed very peaceful. It is also, unfortunately, extremely graffitied. Kind of takes away from the tranquility of the scene.

Fall foliage still remains in Lytle Canyon. The willow are yellow and the oak are rusted brown.

Here's a video of Bonita Falls; probably looks best in the small-screen version, because when you go full-screen, it just looks terribly pixilated.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Hike 2011.098 -- Little Santa Anita Canyon to First Water

Hiked Tuesday, December 27. I actually planned on doing the Winter Creek Loop out of Chantry. However, by the time I got done with the DMV this morning and drove up Santa Anita, it was about 11:30am. The lot at Chantry was way passed full. So I drove back down Santa Anita and made a right at Grand View. I took that over about one mile to Mountain Trail Avenue, then took a right up to the base of the mountains. There's a small park right after Mountain Trail curves left and turns into Mira Monte. That's Mount Wilson Trail Park. I parked in front of the park.

There's a grassy area there, and s flush toilet there. Not sure when they put that in there, but it's apparently been years. Just never noticed it before.

At the west end of the park, there's a small museum that I've never actually seen open. A short, private road, called Mount Wilson Trail, heads north, just west of the museum. There are sometimes a few parking spaces at the bottom west end of this road.

Most people park on Mira Monte Avenue and walk up Mount Wilson Trail. After less than 1/10th of a mile, there's a trailhead sign. According to the sign, it's 1.5 miles to First Water, 1.9 miles to Lost Canyon (which is unsigned on the trail, but which I'm pretty sure is the canyon where the trail from Jones Peak comes down to join the Mt. Wilson Trail), 7 miles to Mount Wilson, and mileage to several other points along the way.

After .2 miles, the hiking trail briefly rejoins the private, paved, Mount Wilson Trail. The pavement ends, and motorized travel is prohibited beyond that point.

Mount Wilson trail (the hiking trail) is pretty steep. I don't think it's as steep as the trail from Bailey Canyon to Jones Peak, and it's definitely wider. But it is still steep.

As you climb, there is usually running water far below you, down at the bottom of Little Santa Anita Canyon. A couple of waterfalls are visible far below.

At the top of this post is a wide view of part of Little Santa Anita Canyon. Here is a crop of that picture, with some hikers visible to put things in perspective.

Reaching First Water requires a short detour off the main trail. You descend about 30 vertical feet over the course of maybe 100 yards. I suspect the majority of hikers and joggers on this trail stop here and turn around.

It's a pleasant place, with the gurgling of water, splashing over rocks and between broken logs.

Decided to call it a day hike there, and headed on down the mountain. Took plenty more pictures on the way down, especially of the few flowers I saw.

These guys looked like the picture of Wishbone Bush. I also saw flowers that look exactly what I have seen elsewhere identified as Cliff Aster, but which is listed as Twiggy-wreath Plant in "Wild-flowers of the San Gabriel Mountains." Buckwheat were also in bloom.

If the signs are accurate, I walked no more than 3.2 miles today. Played some half-court basketball later, though. :D A high school friend is visiting the area for the holidays. We're all absolutely horrible, but it's still exercise.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Hike 2011.097 -- Jones Peak

Hiked Sunday, December 25. Another relatively short hike, nearby. This trailhead is at Bailey Canyon Park, 451 W. Carter Ave, Sierra Madre, CA. To get there, take Baldwin Avenue north from the 210 Freeway (Baldwin makes a little jig to the west as it crosses Foothill Ave., so you need to make a left on Foothill, then a quick right). Continue north, past downtown Sierra Madre and a whole slew of churches. As you near the foothills, you'll reach Carter. Make a left there. Shortly after Lima, there's an entrance to Bailey Canyon Park, on your right.

The lot's a little small and short, so be careful when pulling in and pulling out. I backed into my spot so it would be easier to get out if there were lots of cars in the lot. Apparently, someone who came after me wasn't quite so farsighted, and headed in. Then she backed into my car when she left.

Fortunately, she left a note. I haven't called, yet, but hopefully everything will be fine. It looks to be mostly just my hood, so maybe the repair will be quick and cheap.

There's a flush toilet at the trailhead, which is kind of unusual for most trailheads.

Head west from the lot and the trail soon passes through a boundary fence. Head right (up the hill), and go past the monastery. (As of today, there's a mountain lion poster on the boundary fence for the monastery). As the pavement ends and you go past the detention basin on your right, you'll soon come to a bridge, which would require a right turn, over a small gully. There's a short nature loop if you cross the bridge. The waterfall and trail to Jones Peak is straight ahead, however.

Also down in this area are periwinkle, which are pretty common in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. I never really noticed if this is common, but some of the periwinkle here had only four petals.

If there's no water running down near the bridge, there's a fairly high probability that the waterfall is dry. The trail you're on also crosses where the outflow from the waterfall would run a bit further up. Again, if there's no water running there, the waterfall is probably dry. Some pictures of when the waterfall was actually flowing are here. Previous write-ups of hikes around Bailey Canyon are here and here.

If you want to visit the waterfall, turn left at the fork. If you want to go to Jones Peak, head right. The path to Jones Peak is supposed to be 3.3 miles each way. There's a small cabin foundation about 2.2 miles up. It's right near where the trail heads into a narrower section of the canyon, right after the trail makes a brief descent.

Otherwise, this trail is pretty steep and full of switchbacks. It's also pretty shadeless, so you don't want to do this hike in high summer.

You reach a saddle about 1/10th of a mile form the top of Jones Peak. At the saddle, you go right to get to the top of Jones Peak.

If you had, instead, gone left, you'd have a trail heading up towards Hastings Peak. If you continue up that route (really, a firebreak), you'd reach the Mt. Wilson Toll Road in about a mile. The picture here is looking north from Jones Peak, with the fire break crossing from right to left, and Mt. Wilson in the background.

Also, just as you start going up the path towards Hastings Peak, there's another trail, which heads down and to your right, towards the Mt. Wilson Trail. It intersects with that one just after First Water.

From Jones Peak looking south, Santa Anita racetrack is down and a bit to your left. Looking east, Mt. San Antonio (Baldy), San Gorgonio and the Santa Ana mountains were easy, looking left to right.

Total mileage for the day was just 6.6 miles.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Hike 2011.096 -- Sawpit Wash, Monrovia, CA

Hiked Saturday, December 24. Today's hike was pretty lame. I had a lunch appoint-ment at noon and only had about 2 1/2 hours in the morning (including driving time) to squeeze in my hike. Besides, I played some basketball yesterday, and was feeling a little stiff.

Parked on Lemon Ave, just east of Mountain. That's about two miles north of the Foothill Freeway (I-210). I parked on the street.

This is the southernmost section of the wash-side walking trail. It's mainly used by joggers and dog walkers (and, in fact, I ran into a friend from Monrovia on my way back. He and his daughter were walking their dog). There are dispensers for bags to pick up your dog's poo at several spots along the way.

From Lime, the trail heads mostly to the north, passing over or under several roads along the way. The only off-street parking is one block north of Lime, at the end of a private drive that's opposite Foothill Blvd, just east of Mountain. That public lot is often used as by visitors or residents to a small condominium development at that corner, however. So, today, I just started at Lime.

It took me about 30 minutes to get to the gate for Monrovia Canyon Park. There's a short trail (1.8 miles from the entrance station, probably 1.9 to 2.0 miles from the road gate) from there to Monrovia Falls. Today, however, the gate was locked, even though I got there well after the 8am opening time. I thought that meant the park was closed, perhaps due to recent storm damage. However, the friend I ran into on the way back suggested it might just be that the rangers had Christmas Eve off.

I returned the way I came, having covered about 3 miles on my wash-side walk. I passed numerous dog walkers and a few joggers. I also saw several hawks and saw and heard several woodpeckers. Had I been a little more efficient and framing the hawk sitting in a sycamore, I would have had a nice close-up view of him. The sycamore were still looking very fall-ish. It's always amazing to see fall foliage in December.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Hike 2011.095 -- Sturtevant Falls

Hiked Thursday, December 22.

Wasn't really planning on a hike today, but I had some time this early afternoon, so I took a short walk to Sturtevant Falls. As with many of the recent hikes, it's one I've done before, but is very close to home, and that makes it convenient. Yeah, I'm aiming more at the quantity than the quality at the moment.

This trailhead starts at Chantry Flats. From the 210 freeway, take Santa Anita Avenue north. It heads out of Pasadena and through Sierra Madre, on into the Angeles National Forest. At the end of the road, that's Chantry Flats. An Adventure Pass is required to park here.

From the lowest of the three tiers of parking lots (which fill early on weekends and holidays), the trail to Sturtevant Falls heads down from the south end of the lot. The first 1/2 mile or so is paved and steep. Keep that in mind for your return to the parking lot.

At the end of the pavement, there's a stream (Winter Creek) which flows in from the left. A steel-framed bridge crosses Winter Creek. A large check dam slows the flow of the water down the hill.

Today, for the first time I've ever hiked here, the flow from Winter Creek was so low that I could actually walk right over the creek. Normally, I needed to use the bridge.

Once over the bridge, a sign says it's 1 1/4 mile to Sturtevant Falls. Along the way, several more check dams impound water, creating still, reflective pools beneath the canopy of alder.

After about 3/4 of a mile of walking with the river on your right, and passing by numerous cabins, you reach Fiddler's Crossing. Just before reaching Fidder's, you also pass a couple of trails, coming in from the left. If you head up then to the right, you'd be on the Sturtevant Trail, heading to an overlook of the falls before continuing on to Sturtevant Camp. The left trail also ends up there, but does not give an overview of the falls. Technically, hikers can go either way, while horses must go on the left trail.

Since I was only going to the falls, I did not take either of those two trails, but continued across Fiddler's Crossing (Santa Anita Creek) to the falls.

There are two more crossings further up the trail, but the water is so low that staying dry was not an issue.

Despite the traffic that this trail gets, I actually had about ten minutes of the falls all to myself. Sturtevant is substantially taller than Eaton Canyon falls, which you don't fully appreciate until you get right up to the pool at the base of the falls.

It's very scenic and peaceful there.

Probably 3.5 to 4.0 miles, roundtrip.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hike 2011.094 -- Echo Mountain via Rubio Canyon, Return via Sam Merrill and Altadena Crest Trails

Hiked Wednesday, December 21.

Still not in much of a driving mood, and keeping things close to home. I did add a slight twist to the usual Echo Mountain hike by approaching from the trailhead at Camp Huntington Road.

This trailhead is at the curve where Loma Alta Drive turns into Rubio Canyon Road, in Altadena. From the east, I think the easiest approach would be to take Altadena Drive north from the 210 Freeway, following it past Eaton Canyon. As Altadena Drive approaches the foothills, it curves to the west. About 2-3 miles past the Nature Center driveway, you can make a right at either Tanoble Drive (which has access to the Altadena Crest Trail) or Porter Avenue. Both are narrow residential streets, so watch your speed as you head north about 1/3 of a mile to Loma Alta Drive. Make a left there. After another 1/2 mile or so, Loma Alta will curve to the right and climb, going past Zane Grey Terrace (another access point to the Altadena Crest Trail). As the road goes past a large detention basin on the left, it will curve to the left. At the curve, Huntington Camp Drive is on the right, where a street sign that marks the change in the name of the road you're on (from Loma Alta Drive to Rubio Canyon Road). However, there is no parking at this point.

Instead, continue another 150 yards or so, to Rubio Crest Drive.

If you park at the base of this hill, you can then backtrack to Rubio Canyon Drive, walk left, and reach Camp Huntington Road (that name does not appear on the Loma Alta Drive/Rubio Canyon Road street sign at that corner) after about 150 yards, across the bridge.

Alternatively, you could turn right when you got back down to Rubio Canyon Drive, walk about 20 yards, and head up the Altadena Crest Trail, up to the Lake Avenue trailhead for the Sam Merrill Trail.

For me this day, I went left, up Camp Huntington. I hiked a bit in this area a few weeks ago. Walked up the road, went past the metal fire road access gate on the left, past the water company facilities on either side of me, and up Rubio Canyon. I ignored the trail that switchbacked up to the right, which would climb out the east side of Rubio Canyon. Instead, the trail I followed continued up canyon, crossing the dry wash. About 50 yards after crossing the wash, the trail turned sharply up the west side of the wash. This section was very steep and narrow. It looks like a recently-engineered trail, weaving between and under foliage that still encroaches on the trail.

At the end of what must be a 100 feet of vertical climb in only a few hundred yards of horizontal travel, you pop up on the main Rubio Canyon Drive, maybe 1/5 of a mile from the Rubio Canyon trailhead. (Had you driven up Rubio Crest, made a right at Rubio Vista Drive, and driven up to where that road makes a sharp left turn and changes name to Pleasant Ridge Drive, you would have been at the trailhead for what I consider to be the main Rubio Canyon trialhead).

Going up from Camp Huntington Drive probably adds about 300 yards and 150 vertical feet of travel on this approach.

Once on the main Rubio Canyon trail, it's about 1/2 mile of narrow trail to the foundation of the pavilion that used to be the start of the railway up to Echo Mountain. A 6-inch thick metal pipe runs right near the trail at this foundation. Passing the foundation, you have the choice of either heading down to river-level, which would take you further up Rubio Canyon to a series of waterfalls, or heading up the side of the canyon, in a very steep and not very stable (though much improved from just a year or so ago) trail that climbs all the way up to Echo Mountain.

Along the way, you've got a view up rugged Rubio Canyon, where you can hear (and sometimes see) the sound of the numerous waterfalls up that way. There's also a number of steep and narrow trails on the other side of the canyon, which you would take to get to those waterfalls. I saw a trio of hikers heading down one of those trails as I climbed up the opposite side of the canyon. Seeing them in the close-up picture posted below (while comparing it to the wide-angle view of the same wall, above) gives some perspective to the steepness and size of this canyon.

Here (even more so than in earlier portions of this trail), you need to take care not to cause excessive erosion. In a few places, there may be anchored nylon belts tied to trees, which you may (or may not) choose to aid in the climb. You also pass several more rail anchors, and the occasional rail segment and rail tie remnant).

At the top is, of course, Echo Mountain.

After drinking some water and admiring the view, I headed back down the Sam Merrill Trail, towards Lake Avenue. At the bottom, rather than continuing across the Cobb Estate to Lake Avenue, however, I turned left, down the Altadena Crest Trail. Initially, this trail stays in the canyon bottom, with some huge old oaks providing shade and serenity.

After a few hundred yards of that, however, you pop out on a street, continue following the trail near a home's front and back yards, then wind up walking on a barren access road, adjacent to a concrete drainage ditch. After about 1/2 mile of this, you pop back out at Rubio Canyon Road. From there, you make a left, and reach Rubio Crest Drive in about 50 yards. Back at the car.

I'd estimate the day's distance at about 5.5 miles, with an altitude gain of about 1600 feet.