Saturday, June 15, 2013

Hike 2013.033 -- Sawpit Wash to Monrovia Falls

Hiked Saturday, June 8. This is not the most recent unblogged hike, and it's not the oldest unblogged hike. But it is one I've already gone through the pictures for, so here it is.

It seems impossible to believe, but if my blog postings are correct, it's been 18 months since my last visit to Monrovia Falls.

The route I took today was actually a repeat of this hike, from March 2011 Again, it seems impossible that it's been this long since I hiked this trail.

One thing that's changed is that the rather large parking area for access to the Sawpit Wash "trailhead" is much reduced. There are now "No Parking" signs on the bridge that crosses the wash. That used to provide parking for between six and eight vehicles. With no parking there allowed, there's much less room on the space adjacent to the bridge. There are no "No Parking" signs there, even in front of the service access gates to either side of the wash. Does that mean parking is permitted in front of the gates? I don't know.

If you don't want to block the gates and be the guinea pig who can answer the question, then there's only room for about two cars at the parking area, which isn't enough. But since I was the second car there this morning (the other car is an immobile wreck that's been there for several months, at least. But it has a nice car cover!), I did have room to park.

Sawpit Wash is also accessible at several other points, including Wildrose (one block south of Foothill) and Lemon Avenue (two blocks south of Foothill). Both access points are just east of Mountain Avenue).

A shorter hike can be had if you access Sawpit Wash at either Greystone or Norumbega. Or, of course, you can just drive up North Canyon Road, pay the five bucks to park inside the actual Monrovia Canyon Park, and have a hike of between 1 and 3 miles, roundtrip.

Most other folks who write this hike up would suggest parking at the bottom on North Canyon, near Ridgeside Drive. But then you'd need to walk about 1/4 of a mile on the pavement of the road. As in, ON the road. Even though it's a short segment and lots of people walk there (so drivers should be aware), I don't like it. Coming up from Sawpit Wash, instead, you don't join North Canyon Road until it gets a little wider, and there's a dirt shoulder to walk on.

A few years ago, there was also a row of small boulders and large rocks to provide a visual separation between you and the cars. Presumably, stupid people have removed most of those rocks, so now there are about two of them on the lowest section. Then again, even with the dirt shoulders, some stupid people insist on walking on the pavement, anyway.

After about 1/2 mile walking along the road, you reach the entrance to Monrovia Canyon City Park. The parking area just outside of the entrance gate would still require a parking fee, and it's supposed to be 3 miles (or 3.5 miles, if you believe a different sign) from there to the waterfall.

Cross to the west side of the road at the crosswalk after the entrance station, and head on up the trail. You'll gain altitude quickly, and soon have a view of the very impressive Sawpit Canyon Dam. Despite it's imposing facade, it's now a "run of the river" dam, which means it impounds essentially no water.

The large earthen dam you passed where you joined North Canyon Road in the first place would actually hold back more water. But that one's not nearly as cool looking.

Almost as soon as you've completed your first little climb, there's an unopened trail that branches off to the left. A sign there says this trail is closed, pending a feasibility study. Annoyingly enough, that same sign's been there since my first hike to Monrovia Falls, almost 3 1/2 years ago.

As in other hikes in the area, many scarlet larkspur and Indian pink were growing along the trail. Much later along the way, after i got within the canyon, I passed a moderate-sized bush with a number of Matilja poppies in bloom.

I also passed some photogenic oak stands, and areas with cascades and alder to create nice, peaceful scenes.

Once the "long" (3-mile roundtrip trail) joins up with the other, shorter trails to the falls that originate within the park, the going gets more crowded. Still, it wasn't until reaching the waterfall that I saw more than a half-dozen people at a time. There, there must have been 30 or so people in the area. Those that were there took turns posing in front of the falls, so you almost had to accept a picture with strangers in it. Oh, well. At least they give some perspective on size.

About 6 miles round trip for the day. There are a few steep areas with large enough drop offs that very young children (under five) should probably not hike) Dogs are permitted, on a leash, and with their waste picked up by their owners.

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