Visit these 4 San Gabriel Valley waterfalls in ‘rare form’ after recent rain
|January 27, 2017 - Here are some scenic waterfalls in the San Gabriel Mountains that are flowing after the long drought.|
|Steve Scauzillo, San Gabriel Valley Tribune|
|San Gabriel Valley Tribune|
|Steve Messer enjoys taking students from the inner city up into the San Gabriel Mountains, into Big Tujunga to explore nature, breathe pure air and help him with trail repairs.|
In limited trips since the rains began in October and after the heaviest downpours in December and January, some students told Messer they had never stepped into a muddy canyon or gazed upon a green, chaparral-covered slope. “Some of them don’t remember the forest this way,” he said, because they hadn’t seen it before the nearly six-year drought. “To younger eyes, that was the only forest they’ve known.”
All things have become new in the myriad of trails, canyons and waterfalls stretching from Malibu Creek, across the hills of the Santa Monica Mountains, to the soft-soil slopes of the San Gabriels, Messer said. What a difference even a normal amount of winter rain can make on this natural wonderland.
“There is water flowing in places we haven’t seen in many years,” said Messer, who is president of the Concerned Off-Road Bicyclists Association in Calabasas. Trail builders, mountain bikers, hikers and Forest Service rangers know they can find Messer on the mountain as the forest’s eyes and ears. He also volunteers as a member of a collaborative group working to bring more resources to the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, which stretches east of Tujunga to Mount Baldy.
On the Strawberry Creek Trail, artesian springs came to life last week. “We hadn’t seen water there since 2008,” Messer said.
John Monsen, an environmental consultant and Sierra Club member and also a member of the monument collaborative, said reports from Angeles National Forest Supervisor Jeff Vail said Sturtevant Falls above Arcadia are “spectacular.”
Messer added: “I’ve crossed the stream there several times now and even before the latest storms it is flowing stronger and the falls had more water than it has in a few weeks.”
Also, Monsen said Eaton Canyon Falls in east Pasadena “are really going robustly,” according to reports from hikers and rangers.
“All the falls should really be great,” said Monsen, an avid outdoors man who has been grounded lately by a bum Achilles but has been talking to numerous hikers, Sierra Club members and rangers who’ve covered the local mountains since the rains.
Switzer Falls off Angeles Crest Highway near Mount Wilson “are falling very strongly,” Messer said.
Tim Brick, managing director of the Arroyo Seco Foundation, noticed the plentiful flows in the normally dry river bed north and west of Pasadena. A stream gauge showed water running at 200 cubic feet per second during the height of last week’s storms. During most of the past five years, the stream measured 1 cubic foot per second, he said.
Next week, his group will count the fish life in the stream brought by new water flows.
“We are going up there looking for native trout,” Brick said. “Now that they have some water to swim in we’ll actually see native fish in there again.”
Casey Schreiner, editor of the blog ModernHiker.com and author of “Day Hiking Los Angeles,” reported back about the state of one local waterway.
“Millard Canyon Falls (in Altadena) is in rare form right now,” he wrote in a an email. “Readers have reported several sections of the short trail to the base of the falls are underwater.”
Dry canyons, where oaks were stressed and sycamores drooped, are springing back to life.
“I’ve also seen a really nice flow again in Santa Anita Canyon, which was almost bone dry late last year,” Schreiner added.
There are some precautions anyone venturing into the mountains must take, even when the weather turns warmer this weekend, warns Nathan Judy, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service.
Several rescues in the local trails over the past few weeks underscore the need to follow signs, stay on the trails and not venture into closed areas, he said. Also, hikers in higher elevations will encounter snow and ice. Without the proper equipment, hikers could die, he said.
A woman in her 30s sustained serious injuries during the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend after falling 30 feet down a ravine in Eaton Canyon, the Pasadena Fire Department reported. San Bernardino County Fire personnel rescued 34-year-old Jennifer Fujita last week from a fall off Devil’s Backbone trail near Mount Baldy.
Many trails are impassable. Some are underwater and others are blocked by fallen trees, Messer said, making it impossible for mountain bikers to navigate around. Go the Forest Service website to learn road and trail conditions.
Chantry Flat Road was down to one lane Thursday, Judy said. Fish Canyon trail near Duarte and Azusa is closed because of the San Gabriel Complex fire last fall and recent mudslides.
“Overall, it should be fine for hiking but expect to see down trees and rock slides and deeper than usual water crossing,” Messer said.
Some of the other well known waterfalls in the Southern California mountains include:
• Big Falls in Forest Falls in the San Bernardino Mountains
• Paradise Falls in Wildwood Regional Park in Thousand Oaks
• Monrovia Falls, about a 3/4-mile hike from Monrovia Canyon Park, located at the north end of Canyon Drive
• In Malibu, Solstice Canyon Falls and Escondido Falls; the latter, at 200 feet, is the highest falls in the Santa Monica Mountains
• Trail Canyon Falls, off Big Tujunga Canyon Road
Click on the picture for a larger image.
David Rodriguez, of Rowland Heights, checks out Sturtevant Falls on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017 in the Angeles National Forest where the Big Santa Anita creek was flowing after the recent rain storms. "I've hiked a lot of trails but this my favorite. It's convenient. You get the feeling you've traveled out of the city." says Rodriguez, a massage therapist, who brought crystals he cleansed in the running water. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)
A woman runs along the Gabrielino Trail on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017 in the Angeles National Forest where the Big Santa Anita creek was flowing after the recent rain storms. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)
A man stops to take in the view of a cabin along the Gabrielino Trail on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017 on the way to Sturtevant Falls in the Angeles National Forest. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)
Andrew Maloney, left, of Fullerton, and David Rodriguez, of Rowland Heights, cross the Big Santa Anita creek on their way to Sturtevant Falls on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017 in the Angeles National Forest. "I've hiked a lot of trails but this my favorite. It's convenient. You get the feeling you've traveled out of the city." says Rodriguez, a massage therapist, who brought
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