Friday, May 4, 2012

Hike 2012.026 -- Rio Hondo College to Nike Missile Base

Hiked Friday, May 4.

Extremely short hike today. It's been a somewhat frustrating last couple of weeks, as I have had either obligations or weather conspire to foil my plans for hiking for nearly two full weeks. I was getting noticeably fatter and noticeably grumpier. So, finally, today, even knowing I was limited to less than two hours to walk, I went hiking, anyway.

I've been on this trail not so long ago, but it's where I wound up today. It was only a small part of that earlier hike, but it was all I had time for today.

I parked on Workman Mill Road, in the small lot adjacent to the Rio Hondo College Book Mart and a flower shop, right across the street from the college. Book Mart's address is 3323 Workman Mill Road, so you can use that to find out where you're trying to get to. The lot you want has a separate entrance, and is just north of the book mart/flower shop.

From there, you either jaywalk across busy Workman Mill Road or walk under the often muddy underpass. The ascent begins relatively slowly, taking you just west of the Rio Hondo College Police Academy. An obstacle course is accessible through an open gate on your right, if you're so inclined to divert yourself.

Otherwise, as you gain altitude, you get an overview of the 605 (San Gabriel River Freeway) and the San Gabriel River, itself, both to your west. Train tracks, a large FedEx facility, and other industrial uses are also to your west. Later, you pass an electrical generating plant that's powered by the methane produced by the trash you're walking next to. And your hike will terminate at a wonderful point overlooking the Puente Hills landfill.

Yeah, it's not exactly a scenic wonderland here.

On the other hand, it's tipping fees from the landfill that paid for a lot of the land that's been turned into hiking space, so why not? It IS kind of nice to have some places to go hiking right here in town.

There's also small wildlife in the area. I saw a couple of California quail along the way, and some pretty red-breasted birds that I thought looked like very large finches. No idea if that's what they are, since I'm not a bird-man.

The turkey vultures were also out in force, again. At least one crow wasn't happy about this, and showed his displeasure by harassing them away from his turf.

Lots of rabbits, ground squirrels, and lizards. And I'm sure when it gets hotter, they'll be plenty of rattlesnakes out and about, again.

But, today, it was just a place where I could get my pulse sped up in a nice way. I'm sure hiking up a hill is a better way to raise your pulse than to get annoyed at traffic or just drinking coffee at your desk, for example.

In addition to the freeway and powerplant, part of your hike takes you above and adjacent to Rio Hondo College, with views to the southeast, to Rose Hills Memorial Park. That's somewhat more peaceful than a freeway, but still not wilderness.

I'm estimating about a three mile roundtrip, though it could be a smidgen less. The incline felt good, but I sure would like to have had more time for a longer walk.

One thing I've been noticing a lot of the past few months is this weird orange parasite growing on a lot of conifers in town. I don't remember seeing it before, but it seems like it's all over the place nowadays. Kind of pretty, though probably not so great for the pine trees.

Unfortunately, tomorrow is also going to be broken up by an obligation. Might try for something more serious on Sunday. We'll see.Besides the dump at the end of the hike, the middle part of the hike (after you've left the west-facing slope that overlooks the 605) opens to the southeast, and Rose Hills Memorial Park. That's nicer than the dump, but still not exactly a place to get away from it all.

BTW, there's not much left of the missile base besides a plaque and the guard shack. Pictures of that here, although the plaque is from a distance and you can't read it from here.


  1. Way to go Skyhiker, nothing like a hike, even a short one, to feel better!

  2. Is this the trail that can be seen from the very back end of Rose Hills with walkers, people on bikes, and some walking dogs?

  3. It does skirt Rose Hills, but there are other trails that are also visible from Rose Hills, so I'm not sure if it's the one you are thinking of. Check out the website for the Puente Hills Landfill Native Habitat Authority website at and see the maps, including the one for the whole Authority. The Schabarum Trail and Sycamore Canyon Trails are adjacent, as are several other trails (some named and some unnamed) that run along the ridges of the hills in the area.