Sunday, March 25, 2012

Hike 2012.016 -- Van Tassel Motorway and Silverfish Truck Trail

Hiked Wednes-day, March 21. I spent the first full day of spring enjoying another local mountain walk. Apparently, I've hiked this trail twice before, but not since February 2010. Both times going somewhat further than I went today. My first hike was all the way to White Saddle. A picture of White Saddle is include in this write-up, of a hike to Monrovia Falls.

A later hike (that I actually posted long before the first trip to Mount Bliss) is linked at the start of this sentence.

As noted in those earlier hike posts, my trail head for today was at the corner of Brookridge Road and Opal Canyon Road. You can see in the street sign picture, it was 200 block of Opal Canyon Road and the 3200 block of Brookridge Road. 163 Opal Canyon Road seems to put google maps right on the spot.

Incidentally, I also noticed on my way out that there's a bus stop sign here. The Duarte City bus is free and runs once an arrow. Their "Blue" line runs generally in a clockwise direction and would put you at the corner of Opal Canyon and Brookridge at 52 minutes after the hour. Their "Green" line runs counterclockwise and would put you there around 13 minutes after the hour. Both intersect with Huntington Drive/Foothill Blvd, so you could reach these buses from Foothill Transit's Route 187, which you could ride in from the east as far as Claremont or in from Pasadena. It (187) also stops at the Sierra Madre Villa Gold Line Station.

For those of you not trying to get here via public transit, you would take the San Gabriel River Freeway (I-605) north to its end, just past the Foothill Freeway (I-210), to Huntington Drive. I made a right at Huntington, passed about two lights over 3/4 of a mile, and turned left (north) at Encanto Parkway.

If I were coming from the east, I'd take the 210 Freeway west, exit at Irwindale Avenue, head north, then make a left turn on Foothill Blvd, which soon turns into Huntington Drive. If coming from the west, I'd take the 210 Freeway east, exit at Mountain Olive/Huntington. Just as you pass under the 605, there's a cloverleaf that loops you around to the surface street. Don't get off at the earlier (more westernly) Huntington Drive exit, which is in Arcadia/Monrovia, and would leave you with a pretty long drive on Huntington).).

Once on Encanto, head north about one mile. After passing the Duarte Museum and Encanto Park on your left, you'll reach a stop sign. Make a left here, at Fish Canyon Road. I made a right on the third street, which is Melcanyon Road. I made another right at the next street (Opal Canyon Road) and took that to its intersection with Brookridge Road. Had I just stayed on Melcanyon Road, I would have hit Brookridge just 50 yards or so further to the west. Park on Brookridge, though, of course, don't park in front of the fire hydrant.

From the corner of Opal Canyon and Brookridge Roads, walk north on Opal Canyon Road, which continues north as a steep and narrow one-lane road. You feel like you're on someone's driveway, particularly with the mailbox and electricity meter near the corner. However, there is no private property or no trespassing signs here, nor at the locked gate about 500 feet up. Similarly, the signed and fenced off water district tank at the top of the end of the pavement (about 500 feet further up) is fenced off, but the fencing does not obstruct the road, and a somewhat overgrown but clearly improved trail continues on the other side of the fenced area.

From there, you zig-zag up the steep trail for about 200 yards, to a large flat and barren area. Note your point of entry so you can find the trail back down when you're done.

Make a left and walk the narrow trail 1/8 of a mile, til you reach Van Tassel Motorway. Make a left there.

Sunflowers are frequently in bloom here, and turkey vultures and red tailed hawks are also common. Bees are less common than they used to be.

After about one mile of continued steep climbing, you reach a locked gate. This is just after passing under a set of very large high tension wires. SCE is placing a new and larger set of towers around here as part of the Tehatchapi Renewable Power Transmission project. Yes, this part of the same project that led to the expanded towers I've been running into down through the Puente Hills. Powerlines run along the San Gabriel River, linking the towers here in the San Gabriel Mountains with those going through the Puente Hills.

The dirt road changes name (on the google maps thing) from Van Tassel Motorway to Silverfish Motorway right around here.

Because I had some work to do back home, I couldn't go too far. I continued for about another 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile, climbing towards (then a little past) the foundations for another set of electrical towers (pictured here, as seen from far below).

After walking in front of the towers, then looping around them, I continued only 1/4 of a mile or so past them. Once I decided the view wasn't going to change dramatically in the next 1/2 mile, I turned around. I thought about heading up to a high point near the base of the tower pictured here, where a clear use trail headed up.

However, a downed sign said "No Entrance." I figured this was part of the mitigation plan SCE had to implement to replace all of these towers (in several places along the path, I also passed signs saying, "Raise Blades: No Grading," so there must be some sensitive habitat under that dirt road.

At this point, I decided to just head back home. I took several more pictures of the powers and these large colored balls that were hanging from the top wire. These were obviously intended to make it easier for helicopter pilots to see the wires, as I'm sure helicopters were used to help lay the transmission lines here.

Difficulty-wise, this seemed at least as hard (or easy, depending on your perspective) as Henninger Flats. I suspect the distance is less, but the altitude may be more.

Got back to the car about 2 1/2 hours after I left (I can charge up and down from Pinecrest Avenue to Chantry Flat in less than two hours, but I stopped for more picture taking on this trip than I usually do for Eaton Canyon). Figure on about 5 miles total walking for the day.

On the last bit of my hike, back on Opal Canyon Road and heading down to my car, I looked down the road at the San Gabriel Valley, below me. Across the 210 Freeway were the many tanks marking the location of the Miller Brewery. Beyond them was Industry Hills, with the rectangular resort building sitting prominently on the ridge top. Beyond that were the Puente Hills, where I had taken my last few hikes.

1 comment:

  1. What a good way to start the spring season. Keep sharing your adventures.