Monday, January 16, 2012

Hike 2012.004 -- Water Canyon -- Angeles National Forest, Near San Gabriel Canyon

Hiked Sunday, January 15. Today, I was stuck somewhere between my brain saying, "Go hiking" and my body saying, "I'd prefer to sleep."

Even as I was driving up San Gabriel Canyon, I was still debating about where I might hike. As I drove past Morris Dam, I saw a familiar sight. Turned around and parked, right adjacent to USFS Road #2N28.

I know I hiked here once before, but did not remember much in the way of specifics. It was only as I started writing up my hike that I searched my blog and found that it was over a year ago: Water Canyon was my last hike of 2010. This means it had been over a year since my last visit.

It's interesting to compare the difference in appear-ance: Last time, the reservoir was brimming full, and muddy from recent storm flows. Today, it was low and deep blue.

To get to the trailhead, take the Azusa Avenue offramp, north from I-210. After passing the "old town" and the new-ish Target, the road heads into San Gabriel Canyon. As you approach the mouth of the canyon, a bike path is on your left. A visitor center is also near the mouth of the canyon. You don't need a wilderness permit for this particular hike, but you do need an Adventure Pass. At least, normally, you would. This weekend was a free public lands weekend, although it does not seem to have been very effectively publicized.

Just after passing Morris Dam, there's a large overlook area on the right side of the road. On the left side of the road is the gate for Road 2N28.

As last time, I passed the gate, then turned right at the base of the hill. The path runs north, up-canyon, for quite some distance, before bending around a ridge and continuing to climb.

There's a use trail that goes straight up and around the metal detention dam near the gate. Haven't gone that way, but perhaps next time.

At this turn, there's a small patch of reeds. Doesn't look that wet around here, but I guess there might be standing water there during part of the season.

The actual trail climbs quickly, giving you a quick reward of a view to Morris Dam and Reservoir, and possibly your parked car. At one point, you approach quite close to the top of a power line pole. Right after rounding that bend, there's a use trail that heads up a ridge and provides a quick and steep alternate route.

I didn't go that way. Forgot all about that option, however, until I got back home and checked my write up of my last time up this way.

Instead, I stayed on the actual trail, which stays on the old road. There are several spots with severe earth slides, and the vegetation crowds your path. However, given the forecast of cooler weather, I was wearing long pants and long sleeves, so the way was pretty easy.

About 35 minutes up, there's a point where a use trail drops down from the main path and heads down into Water Canyon. I did not go that way, either. Instead, I stayed on the main path, which makes a hairpin turn as it passes through what seems like an intentionally (and relatively recently planted) forest of trees. Ducking and weaving through the trees, I made my way up, around, then down on the main path.

About ten minutes later, the path takes you to a prominent viewpoint. A ridge runs both up and down from where you stand. You've got a nice view over Morris Reservoir and the Glendora Mountain Road, far across the canyon. Normally, Mt. Baldy would also be visible, but, today, the peak was shrouded in clouds.

The last time I was here, I tried continuing along the old road path, but the growth got too thick. I then headed up the ridge and tromped atop the next ridge. However, today, I was only in for a short walk. So I headed back down the ridge until I met the trail, then followed the trail the last five minutes or so back to my car. Total walking time was about 1:15. I'm estimating about three miles for the day.

Not a lot of flowers in bloom. Some mustard and oxalis (both yellow and non-native), and some buckwheat. There was also the biggest purple nightshade I have ever seen, in addition to a few flowers I didn't recognize.

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