Friday, July 15, 2011

Hike 2011.045 -- Middle Altadena Crest Trail

Hiked Friday, July 15. I had originally planned a serious hike today, having had yesterday to rest up from my 11 1/2 mile or so adventure to Lewis Falls and South Mt. Hawkins. However, I forgot my wife and I had plans to see Harry Potter this morning. Then, after I got back, I was hungry and ate way too much for lunch. Too much fat, especially. So I wasn't up for a long hike. At the same time, I definitely wanted to get at least a little exercise to offset my caloric intake. Didn't want to just do Henninger Flats or Echo Mountain again, though.

Instead, I settled on the middle portion of the Altadena Crest Trail (ACT). I had hiked this section last year and thought I'd revisit it, to see if it had been extended westward any further.

This section starts near the corner of Lake and Loma Alta. From the gates of the Cobb Estate, head east. The Altadena Crest Trail crosses the Lower Sam Merrill Trail right at its start. Just when you get to the little ravine, you'll see several signs. If you go into the ravine and turn left, you're on the Sam Merrill. If you go into the ravine and go straight, then downstream, you're on the east section of the Altadena Crest Trail, and could take this all the way to Eaton Canyon (with a short section on surface streets).

To do the middle portion of the ACT, turn left just before you pass the drinking fountain at the edge of the ravine, and head uphill.

This trail heads more or less due north. If you continue about 1/3 mile, you'll reach a steel-covered reservoir. Extremely ambitious hikers occasionally continue straight up the hill after that. Others turn off to the right somewhat before the reservoir, and go into the ravine on your left. A trail will take you to a small waterfall, which is, unfortunately, defaced by the stupidity of SFB pinheads.

Another unfortun-ately is that the actual sign that would direct you off of the service road to the reservoir and on to the Alta-dena Crest trail fell down last year and has not been replaced. Basically, you just need to be looking on your left, and when you see a trail heading up and away, on your left, and at roughly a 120 degree angle from your direction of travel. That (currently unsigned) trail is the official ACT. Several informal access points are also possible with less climbing. However, since the only reason you'd take this segment of trail is to add some mileage to a too-short return from Echo Mountain or from the eastern ACT, or from the little trip to the reservoir or the waterfall, I'm giving the version that adds the most climbing and mileage.

The turn is before a water fountain that's under a tree, so if you come to this water fountain, you've gone too far. Of course, if you're coming from the uphill side, it's after the water fountain. The water fountain, incidentally, is well below the reservoir, so you definitely don't want to see the reservoir if your intent is to do the ACT.

From here, the trail heads southwest, giving you an overview of the Cobb Estate and views across the western San Gabriel Valley.

I saw some scarlet larkspur in the area, but my camera had trouble focusing on it. And, because of the strong sunlight from behind me, I could not easily see my lcd display to confirm the focus.

After a weaving and winding 1/2 mile or so, the trail drops down on to where Devonwood Road makes a sharp turn, from north-northwest to east southeast. At this point, the trail crosses Devenwood, then parallels it briefly before continuing to the west.

About 1,000 feet later, the trail crosses Canon Blvd. It then proceeds maybe 100 or 200 yards further before disappearing, near a section of private road called "Vinehill." There's an ACT sign indicating the trail makes a sharp right turn, but there is no obvious (or non-obvious) trail. Several faint trails seem to head into people's front or backyards, but none seemed likely to be actual public trails. So after a little exploring in the various directions to be sure I had lost the trail, I turned around.

When I got back to Canon, I just took it south, to Loma Alta. Heading east on Loma Alta, I came out near Loma Alta Elementary School. I was then surprised (again) by how quickly I got back to my car, at Lake and Loma Alta. The trail is obviously a much more weaving and scenic way of going a short distance.

Because it was only about an hour after I left and I was pretty sure I hadn't gone my requisite three miles, I continued past my car, headed back into the Cobb Estate, then made a loop among one of the paved roads in there, then back along a segment of the ACT heading to the east, then looped right back and got out.

Not much of a point to this hike, other than a stretch of the legs. At some point, it's supposed to continue west, eventually linking with the western portion of the ACT, which starts near the corner of Sunset Ridge and Loma Alta, heads generally northwesterly, crosses Chaney Trail, then peters out just 1/4 or so east of Chaney trail, near Alzada Drive.


  1. If you head up the hill north/northwest of that steel-covered reservoir, you'll gain a very steep ridge up Las Flores Canyon that'll eventually take you to the Mt. Lowe Road about 5 minutes west of the Sunset Ridge Trail junction. However, the last stretch of the ridge becomes a bit of a scramble necessitating the use of both hands.

    Also, I read that there are numerous old mines close to where you hiked.

  2. Thanks, John. Yeah, as I was zipping along the base of the mountains on the ACT, I was thinking that if I headed up along the ridge, I'd *have* to run into the trail heading from Millard Canyon to The Cape of Good Hope. Definitely wasn't up for such a steep climb yesterday, though. :D

  3. John--Forgot to mention that there's one old mine entrance in the ravine right below the reservoir. Got a picture in my post for Hike 47 for the year, as well as in a post or two from last year.