Sunday, September 15, 2013

Hike 2013.046: Aspen Grove to Fish Creek Meadows

Hiked Friday, September 13. I've got two other hikes that I still need to blog. They're repeat hikes, however, with nothing unusual to report. Also, on one of them, I forgot to insert the SD card into my camera. Those blogs, if written, will be pretty brief.

In the meantime, this is just not my year for hiking. I scheduled Friday off a few weeks back, with the intent of going on a hike. And, obviously, I did. But I kept it short, 'cause I was feeling pretty lousy. I've spent the last three days mostly laying down, trying to get over this cold before the work week starts.

It's about a month too early for this hike, but I wanted to scout the area ahead of time, to see what might have changed in the three years since I was last here.

Specific directions to this trailhead are included in my older post, so go there for driving directions.

Today, I got myself a Wilderness permit so that I would be legally allowed to hike beyond the aspen grove. Without a Wilderness permit, you are technically in violation of the law to be standing in the aspen grove, though it appears they have no problem with allowing people to proceed to the grove without a permit.

Also, unlike two years ago, you no longer require an Adventure Pass to park at the Aspen Grove trailhead.

Incidentally, if driving on a narrow dirt road does not appeal to you, you have two alternatives that would obviate the need for going off-pavement, but do add between 3/4 and 1 mile each way of walking to the trip. Given the short hike involved, this should not be a deal killer.

The more obvious alternative is just at the split of 1N05 from 1N02. A signed marker for the Santa Ana River Trail is there. After a half-mile heading west on the Santa Ana River Trail, you'd turn left, on to the equestrian trail, and take that another 1/2 mile southwest, to the Aspen Grove Trail. There's also an unsigned but perhaps reasonably easy to identify equestrian trail that crosses 1N02, about 1/4 before the 1N05/1N02 split. This latter trail connects the equestrian campground with with trail to the aspen grove. Both trails are shown on the little half-page handout for the Aspen Grove Trail that they have at the visitor center, so I assume they mean this to be the alternative for folks who don't want to take their cars off-pavement. I did not actually walk those trails this day, however.

Once at the official trailhead, it's maybe 1/3 of a mile to the crossing of Fish Creek. The Aspen Grove is on the other side of Fish Creek.

As of Friday (September 13), the aspen had no hint of yellow, so I assume peak color is at least three weeks away (depending on weather, of course). I intend to make a return trip in 3-4 weeks.

Because I was not expecting the aspen to be in color yet, I intended to hike a bit further along the trail today. I picked as my destination "Fish Creek Meadows," because it would give me a just over 2 miles of distance for the day, and seemed to hold some promise for scenery.

In practice, however, Fish Creek Meadows was dis-appointing. It's a willow meadow, rather than a grassy meadow, so it was not the saturated green I was hoping for. This is the lower portion of Fish Creek Meadows. As mentioned earlier, I was too tired to be willing to hike any further on this day.

The Tom Harrison map of the San Gorgonio Wilderness gives the distance from the Aspen Grove Trailhead to junction with the trail to Fish Creek Meadows as 2 miles. From the junction to the start of Fish Creek meadows seem s to be about 1/3 of a mile, so I'm giving today's hike distance as 4.7 miles (roughly 2.33 miles each way).

It was pleasantly cooler at the 8,000 foot level than it was down in town, so it was a pleasant, if too short, break from city life.


  1. Wow, I need to check this place out.

  2. Visit too early, and it's just plain green. Visit too late, and the leaves have all fallen. But if you catch the timing just right, the sight is pretty incredible. It's not a large grove, but it's so un-southern Californian that it makes it an amazing place to meander.

  3. Glad to see u r still out there hiking. Jealous...

  4. A little bit of hiking. I've been on only one more hike in the two weeks since this one. That was yesterday. May try for one more today and/or tomorrow.

    Nothing ambitious, mind you. Too busy with work. Glad you made Whitney..