Saturday, December 29, 2012

Hike 2012.079 -- Bailey Canyon Trailhead to Cabin Foundation

Hiked Saturday, December 22. Two weeks since my previous hike, which is about as long as i can wait. Slow getting out of the house, and since I needed to get back relatively early to attend a family function, I knew I was going to want to hike something local and short.

Given the recent rains, thought I'd check out Bailey Canyon. Although the waterfall here is dry more often than not, it can be a cute little waterfall if the water is high. Also, if there's no water, there are several possible hikes on up the canyon, including the cabin foundation, Jones Saddle, Jones Peak, Hastings Peak, and even clear over into Little Santa Anita Canyon. But I was pretty sure my destination was just going to be the waterfall, then the cabin ruins.

The Bailey Canyon trailhead is in Bailey Canyon Park. You can get there by taking Baldwin Avenue north from the Foothill Freeway (I-210). If you're coming in from the east, go straight at the light and you're on Baldwin. If coming from the west, make a left at the light, then another left after you've passed under the freeway, then a quick right.

Continue on through a residential area, through downtown Sierra Madre, past several churches and more residential areas, then turn left on Carter Avenue. After a stop sign at Lima Avenue, the entrance is on your right, through a narrow gate. Note that this gate is basically locked from dusk to dawn, so don't park there if you aren't going to be back before dark.

There's a flush toilet and several drinking fountains in the picnic area near the parking lot. There's also a map and trailhead just north of the restroom.

The sign there said it was 2.2 miles to the cabin foundation.

Follow the trail a hundred yards or so to the northwest, and it passes through a turnstyle and on to an asphalt road. The road takes you above a detention dam, then descends a bit back down. Soon, you come to a small, no-longer-used parking area. A small rectangular sign has been blacked out, where it used to be handicapped parking.

Shortly thereafter, a small bridge crosses what will probably be a dry streambed. A nature trail with interpretive signs is over that way.

I continued straight, which also is supposed to be a nature trail. There are a few metal poles with numbers, but no interpretive signs this way.

Maybe 1/4 mile past the bridge, there's a turnoff sign indicating a waterfall 1/4 up the canyon, on your left. If there's significant water coming down beneath you, there's a fair chance of an actual flow of water coming up ahead. Otherwise, if it's dry, you'll be lucky to see a trickle.

Today, there was very little water here, and it turned out most of that was coming from a side stream and was not coming over the falls.

After the 1/4 mile of criss-crossing the mostly dry stream bed and passing through, under, and over the riparian growth, I was at the wall where Bailey Canyon Falls would be. Today, it would qualify as a slow trickle or a fast drip.

The only time I came here with a significant flow was last March. On other visits, it has either been very slightly more than today, or nothing at all. Nothing at all is the default case, probably 9 months out of the year.

I explored some near the base of the falls, then returned to the main trail and started up towards the cabin ruins.

The climb is steep here, as is the way along most of the path to Jones Saddle. However, you're quickly rewarded with a view up Jones Canyon (the picture at the top of this post), and down towards the monastery. Street trees were looking a little colorful today.

The trail eventually makes its way to the south a bit, where it reaches a ridge, then returns back into the hills. At the ridge, there's a very short (10 yard) detour to a bench where you could sit and enjoy the view.

There's no sign there, but I'm sort of assuming this must be MacCloud Saddle, which is signed at the trailhead as one mile from the start. This seems less than a mile, but there's no really obvious place between the start and the cabin foundation that seems like a saddle to me. Yes, a few places where the trail gets level, but it's all along a ridge, which does not seem like a saddle.

As you're walking along the ridge, you get several impressive views of canyon walls to either side of you. The San Gabriel Mountains rise steeply here.

More steep climbing, with a couple of places where a use trail is as well-defined as the actual trail. Then, the next level segment is when you're at "cabin level." The trail runs more or less flat as it heads towards a "V" where, if it's wet, water will spill down towards Bailey Canyon. I'm pretty sure this is where the water that enters Bailey Canyon from the side (not over the waterfall) comes from.

Once your exposed trail reaches the V, you're pretty much at the foundation. A short detour trail will make a hairpin entry from your left. The foundation is visible from the main trail as a short, two-sided rectangle, maybe four rocks tall. A large oak grows over the foundation. Frequently, water is flowing behind the foundation, though it was dry on this day. As a result, there was no water falling out of the "V" on approach.

I walked over to where the cabin once stood, peeked over to see there was no water flowing behind it, then returned the way I came. Just under six miles for the day.

It's raining, now, so I guess no hike for me today. My next chance will be after work on the 31st, when I'll probably be getting off early and have several hours (assuming it is dry) to squeeze in hike 80 for the year.

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