Sunset Travel and Recreation

Natural Arroyo Seco

Gabrielino Trail. Starting from Switzer's Picnic Area in the Angeles National Forest, this trail leads through one of the best segments of the Arroyo Seco. Once past the picnic area crowds, you'll cross the Arroyo Seco numerous times along the mile to an overlook for Switzer's Falls. The Gabrielino Trail continues all the way to Altadena, almost 10 miles from the picnic area access point. To reach Switzer's Picnic Area, take the Angeles Crest Highway (State 2) 10 miles from Interstate 210 in La Cañada Flintridge. You can also access the Gabrielino Trail from a trailhead at Windsor Avenue and Ventura Street north of Interstate 210. An Adventure Pass ($5) is required for parking and trail use within the national forest. (818) 899-1900.

Lower Arroyo Park. This park south of the 1913 Colorado Street Bridge in Pasadena has nice footpaths in the 1.8-mile stretch from the bridge to the South Pasadena border. At Norwood Dr. off Arroyo Blvd.; (626) 744-4321.

Photograph by David Zaitz

Extravagent and flamboyant, Charles Lummis built his Arroyo home with generous amounts of river-washed stone. The gardens are now a good example of water-thrifty landscaping.

The impresario of Arroyo Culture
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Journalist, ethnographer, and archaeologist, Charles Fletcher Lummis was an original: In 1884, he walked from Ohio to Los Angeles, along the way becoming enraptured by the Southwest and its native cultures. He settled in the Arroyo, where he built his home — which he called El Alisal, meaning place of the sycamores — from Arroyo boulders in a style that hints at cliff dwellings while combining Craftsman and California Mission design.

During his many travels, Lummis amassed a huge collection of Native American art and artifacts. Credited as one of those who brought a Southwest aesthetic to the Arroyo, he founded the Southwest Museum in 1914, which still has one of the great collections of Native American art.

A flamboyant, charismatic man, Lummis became one of the leading figures in the Arroyo and often hosted wild cultural gatherings he dubbed Noises. "He was the impresario of the Arroyo Culture," says Thomas F. Andrews, executive director of the Historical Society of Southern California. "And through his writing and photography, he had a major impact on what the West became in people's minds."

El Alisal. 12–4 Fri–Sun; free. 200 E. Ave. 43, Highland Park; (323) 222-0546.

Southwest Museum. 10–5 Tue–Sun.; $6. 234 Museum Dr., Los Angeles; (323) 221-2164.