Monday, January 9, 2012

Hike 2012.002 -- Monrovia Canyon Falls

Hiked Sunday, January 8. Yesterday's hike felt good, and I was still feeling a little tired from it. But I ate a huge breakfast today and needed to do something to combat those calories. The solution was a short hike in Monrovia Canyon.

From Foothill Blvd (between Mountain and Myrtle), take Canyon Blvd north. There's a sign on westbound Foothill (sometimes obscured by tree branches) indicating this is the way to Monrovia Canyon Park, but I did not see any sign heading towards the east).

After about 1.5 miles, Canyon bears to the right (There's a sign pointing the way to Canyon Park there). There's no stop sign heading up, but there is one coming down. Gotta take some care at that intersection. About 1/2 mile later, just before you reach the corner of Canyon and Oakglade (there's a painted relief concrete sign pointing you towards Canyon Park here, too), you can park on the street (check the alternate-side no parking signs, and avoid the no parking area right at the intersection).

I parked there and walked up the paved road that heads into Monrovia Canyon Park. Walking from the street rather than parking at the entry station adds about 3/4 of a mile each way and saves you $5. There is about a 1/10th of a mile section where you are walking on a shoulderless road, whereas for the rest of the way there's an off-shoulder walking area. Many locals appear to prefer walking on the pavement, nonetheless.

My estimate for the walking distance is based on a "1 1/2 mile" sign for the "Fountain to Falls" walk that was near where I parked, and a "2 1/4 mile" sign for the same walk where the off-road portion of the hike to Monrovia Falls begins. There's also a sign indicating it is 1 3/4 miles from there to the waterfall. Simple addition of 1.75 + 1.75 + .75 + .75 means it's 5 miles roundtrip for the whole hike.

There were a lot of cars parked on the street, and lots of foot traffic heading up and down the Canyon drive.

At the entry station, there's a parking lot and a flush toilet. The Bill Cull trail to the waterfall starts from just past the entry station, on the left side of the road. As earlier noted, the sign says it's 1 3/4 miles to the falls from there.

This trail begins with a brisk climb through several switchbacks. Before long, you are above the road, and can see the notch-faced Sawpit Canyon dam.

The trail here is somewhat narrow, which can be an issue during times of heavy travel. It's plenty wide for one person to walk, but not wide enough for two people to pass comfortably.

Once the trail returns to river level (about 3/5 of a mile later), the trail becomes wider.

There's a water crossing just before you meet the main canyon trail (which runs north to the waterfall and south to an historic cabin). Live oak, sycamore, and California Walnut were common. The walnut, in particular, grew thick, with boughs hanging low over the trail.

As you walk the last 3/4 of a mile of the trail, there are several numbered signs that form a nature trail. However, in all the times I've been to this park, I've never found a copy of the flyer at the nature center or the brochure holder near the trail's head at the visitor center.

Hiker traffic was heavier here. When I got to the waterfall, there were about a half-dozen people near the falls, and another ten or so wandering a bit further off. Within five minutes, another fifteen or so people arrived. It definitely gets crowded here on weekends.

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