Saturday, March 10, 2012

Hike 2012.011 -- Elderberry Trail, Turnbull Canyon

Hiked Friday, March 9. After a two-week break from hiking, I finally managed to get back on the trail. It was a short hike, probably only about two or 2 1/2 miles. Had I kept a copy of the trailmap handy, I would have added a bit of distance to give myself the three miles.

This trailhead is off of Turnbull Canyon Road. From the 605 Freeway, there's a Beverly Blvd offramp, which you would take east. After what I would guess to be about five miles (wild guess, not looking at a map), Beverly turns into Turnbull Canyon Road.

Near the mouth of the canyon is a heavily used trailhead that starts a trail that heads parallel to the road, running due north. I decided to take a less crowded alternative. About 1 mile up the road (again, rough guess, though the trail map is here.. After the road has begun a series of sharp turns as it heads up the canyon), there's a small space for roadside parking and an obvious white gate that blocks access to what is Rose Hills Fire Road 2, also known as the Elderberry Trail. Heading up this trail requires going under, over, or through the gate. I went under.

A sign marking the start of the Elderberry trail is also here. In 4/10ths of a mile, this trail briskly climbs 270 feet, where it intersects the Workman Ridge Trail. From there, you can go either left or right. It's a loop trail A(3.2 miles), so if you have the time and inclination, you can walk either way and get back where you started from.

I decided to go left, because left is up.

Both before and after the trail junction, I saw a smattering of wildflowers. Mustard is pretty common, though not as thick this year as last year. Lupine was also somewhat common along the dirt roadway that is the Elderberry and Workman Ridge trails.

I'm pretty sure I was shooting this very lupine when I heard a loud rattling sound above and about ten feet away. Took me a while to find the source of the noise as he slithered away. The brush was too thick here to get a decent picture.

About sixty yards later, just around the next turn, I saw this other guy. When I first saw him, he was just curled up near this other lupine. When I turned my camera on, he heard the "BEEP" and got very annoyed. Raised his head, flicked his tongue, and rattled vigorously.

I used my zoom to get closer pictures without actually having to get closer to him.

I knew from past experience that rattlesnakes are common here, but this is a little early in the season for them to be so numerous. Warm year.

If the first snake didn't get my attention, the second one surely had me watching the edge of the trail closely, in case anyone else was trying to warm up nearby. They seem to like the area because it mixes exposure to sunshine with cover from the many hawks and crows that cruise the thermals in the area, looking for snakes, rodents, or birds to eat.

Not long after the second snake, I came across a relatively thick (but small) stand of lupine.

Nice views in most directions by the time you get to Workman Ridge. Somewhat hazy on Friday, but the San Gabriels were still easy to the north, Whittier was to the south, Santa Catalina far off to the southwest, and the Santa Monica Mountains to the west. Santa Ana mountains were to the southeast.

As I continued along Workman Ridge, I could see several new, larger transmis-sion towers being erected. This is part of the Tehatchapi transmission project, the same one I saw when I hiked the segment of trail near Rio Hondo College.

I also caught some views of Hsi Lai Temple, an additional mile or so on the Schabarum trail (I'm pretty sure that trail sign was knocked over). Nice warm light on the temple and the transmission towers in the distance.

By the time I had gone a mile or so on Workman Mill Ridge, I was getting hungry, and the sun was getting low. Also, I had a little gathering I needed to get to in a little over an hour, so I called it a day. Chatted with one guy and his dog on the way back.

Caught the setting sun. Also got some nice "purple grass" (actually, just regular dried grass, but with the red-shifted light of the setting sun behind us, everything looked a little purple).

Took some more flower shots as the sun set. The mustard at the top of this post were taken at or near sunset. I also came across some blue dicks, shown here. Didn't notice at the time that some little critter was hiding behind one of the buds.

Also snapped a few shots of the warm light on the San Gabriels before getting back to my car.

I'm estimating 2 1/4 miles for the day, but still about 500 feet of vertical gain. Not bad for my first day back in two weeks!

BTW, while driving Turnbull Canyon Road, I saw several "Beware of Deer" signs. Didn't see any deer, though a guy I talked to later that night said he had a friend who bow hunted for deer here every year (not sure if that's legal or what). Also, thinking about things, I guess I did see a bunch of deer the one time, near the Sycamore Canyon trailhead, adjacent to Workman Mill Road.


  1. Nice pictures Skyhiker. It's always a treat to cross paths with the rattlers, at a distance of course!

  2. Yes, at a distance. ;D One thing I don't like about some of the Puente Hills hikes is that some of the trails are single track, with tall grass right to the edge. Several times, I've been startled by the sound of a rattle just 3 or 4 feet away. Fortunately, rattle snakes really don't want to bite anything that's too big to eat (not if they don't have to).