Saturday, March 17, 2012

Hike 2012.014 -- Powder Canyon, Puente Hills Landfill Native Habitat Authority

Hiked Wednes-day, March 14. My parade of short, after work hikes continued with a short walk out of Powder Canyon.

Thought I'd spend this rainy Saturday finally finishing the write-up of my Wednesday afternoon hike.

The trail map for Powder Canyon is here. It's been quite some time since I had been on this hike. Nonetheless, as soon as I started walking, it did look very familiar.

The trail head is on Fullerton Road, but it's not too obvious (though there is another trailhead nearby that is more obvious). If coming from the north, take the Fullerton Road south from the Pomona Freeway (CA-60). Just under 2 miles from the freeway, you'll pass Pathfinder Road. Immediately after Pathfinder, there's a small, narrow road on your right which is actually Fullerton Road. The big road you were on turns into Harbor Blvd.

Hence, if you were coming from the south, you'd take Harbor Blvd through the Puente Hills. Just as your descent through the hills begins to level out (and just before Pathfinder), you'll make a left turn on to Fullerton Road.

Fullerton Road here is a narrow, winding, two lane road that also passes through the mountains, and would rejoin Harbor Blvd just a mile or two further down the road. In fact, if you're coming north on Harbor, you'll also notice a left turn to get on the far southern end of Fullerton Road about a mile earlier. If you take that one, you've got a bit of winding road to follow before getting to the trailhead.

More likely, you'll access Fullerton Road from near the Pathfinder intersection. From there, it's just a few hundred yards to the dirt road that heads towards Powder Canyon. The first small parking area (near the Nogales Trail) is only about 100 yards in. Another 1/5 of a mile and you'd reach the end of the dirt road, near where a small equestrian exercise circle is located.

Because of the route I planned to take today, I parked near the Nogales Trail. The Nogales trail heads north from here, while the Powder Canyon Trail heads west. I started on the Powder Canyon Trail.

Although my previous write-up of this trail (linked above) was written in May 2010, it still occasionally spends time among my most-viewed pages of the week (which, on my humble site, means maybe 20 views). This was my first return to Powder Canyon.

Now, as then, the trail is a wide dirt road lined with overhanging walnut, oak and other trees. In has a very rural feel, even though you are still just a five minute walk from a very busy suburban road.

After just over 4/10ths of a mile, I reached the junction with the Grey Squirrel Trail. That's a short (1/5th of a mile) trail that heads up to a higher portion of Fullerton Road. It's a deadend, but I didn't hike this segment before, so I did, today. Decent views looking back north over the Habitat Authority and Schabarum Park lands. San Gabriel Mountains were largely obscured by haze, however.

Once back on the Powder Canyon trail, I continued up canyon. At 1/5th of a mile, I passed the fork for the Black Walnut trail that I would take on my return route. In another 1/5th of a mile, I was at the fork for the Purple Sage Trail, where I made a left.

This junction is at the saddle for Powder Canyon, and many mountain bikers choose to rest here before continuing down one way or the other, or to get ready for the tough push up Purple Sage Trail.

As I walked south on the Purple Sage Trail, I could look back over hills of wild mustard in bloom, and over large transmis-sion towers. As you climb, there are several dirt roads that fork off of the official trail, and it's not always obvious which one you're one. All weave along the top of the rise, however, and provide good views in most directions. It's a 490 foot gain to the high point, though which point is highest is also not an easy call.

Since I eventually reached a sign that claimed a junction between the Purple Sage and the Schabarum Trail, I apparently walked all 1.4 miles of that trail. Either way, it does not appear that the Buena Vista trail is signed here. I did stand atop a vantage that looked down on the trail that headed towards Schabarum Park, so I'm pretty sure I did walk that trail back to Purple Sage, then back towards my trailhead.

If I had the time and inclination, I could have extended my hike with a loop along the Schabarum Trail that would have added 1.5 miles or so to my day. Instead, I returned the way I came, back tot he Purple Sage-Powder Canyon Trail. When I got to the Black Oak trail, I took the left turn along that loop, and came back around and then down on the Nogales Trail to where my car was parked.

In addition to the wild mustard (which dominates most hillsides), wild radish was common in some pockets, particularly in more shaded pockets along the way. There were also sunflowers, lots of lupine along the road cut, and thistle adjacent to roads. Most thistle was still not in bloom, though in more sun-exposed areas, a few did bloom; many were set against mustard blooms.

Distance covered was between 4.5 and 5.6 miles. Given my total walking time, I'd tend to think it was closer to the former, though the trail signs suggest it was the latter. I know I did walk pretty quickly in many areas, but 5.6 miles still seems implausible long.


  1. Really looks like a wonderful hiking spot. I love the second photo of the trees.

  2. Thanks, Kay!

    Something funny I just noticed? If you compare the second picture in this post with the first picture of the hike I linked to in the third paragraph (my first hike in Powder Canyon, in May 2010, you'll notice they're pictures of the same tree (slightly different angle and a different distance).

    My link to the May 2010 hike is in the third paragraph of the current hike write-up, just after the link to the trail map and before the second picture. It's an embedded hyperlink to what was my 60th hike of 2010.