Trail Canyon Trail

San Gabriel Mountains Xerox Mountaineering and Backpacking Club

Sunland, off 210 March 21, 1992

When: Saturday, March 21, 1992; meet at the trailhead at 10:00 am.

Brief: Easy 3 miles round trip, 700 ft elevation gain, to Trail Canyon Falls.

Moderate 8 miles round trip, 2,000 ft elevation gain, on Tom Lucas Trail Camp. Leader plans to do both hikes; hikers will have the option of continuing on the moderate hike or returning after reaching the falls.

What: Dayhike. The trail, a closed fire road, passes some private cabins that date from the 1920s and ’30s, and arrives at the creek. The road ends and the footpath begins three-quarters of a mile from the trail head, at a creek crossing.

Trail Canyon Trail heads upcreek in the shade of sycamores, oak and alder. After half a mile, the path switchbacks up the canyon’s chaparral-covered west wall. After a couple of bends in the trail, look for Trail Canyon Falls below.

Trail Canyon Trail isn’t quite as redundant as it sounds. The "trail" in Trail Canyon refers not to a footpath, but to the "trail" left by tiny flakes of gold found in the gravel of the canyon’s creek bed. Turn-of-the-century placer miners worked the creek, but the trail didn’t lead to any riches.

The real wealth of Trail Canyon is in its scenery: steep canyon walls that conceal a bubbling creek and surprising waterfall. During dry months and drought years, the creek is still, but swollen by rain and runoff it becomes a lively watercourse.

While not completely back to its former verdant splendor, Trail Canyon has recovered nicely from the 1975 Big Santa Anita Fire that blackened this part of the forest.

Beyond the falls, the trail leads to shady Tom Lucas Trail Camp, named for a grizzly bear hunter and one of the first forest rangers in that forerunner of the Angeles National Forest, the San Gabriel Timberland Reserve.

Where: Angeles National Forest, San Gabriel Mountains, Big Tujunga Canyon Road, Wildwood Picnic Area.

Reference: Robinson, "Trail of the Angeles," 1976 edition, hike #9.

Weather: If there is rain or a threat of rain, the trip will be canceled. If in doubt, call the leader before 7:30 am on Saturday. Otherwise, expect clear but cool conditions.

Bring: Ten essentials and lunch.

Carpooling: Call Tom Irby at (310) 540-3724.

Directions: Allow 1-1/2 hrs driving time from South Bay. Take 110 to Pasadena; pick up the Foothill Freeway / 210 west 10-12 miles to Sunland. Exit Sunland Blvd. Drive east/right on Sunland, which soon merges with Foothill Blvd. Continue to Mt. Gleason Ave; turn north/left and drive to its end at the "T" at Big Tujunga Canyon Road. Turn right and proceed between four and five miles (.9 mile after you cross the bridge) to a dirt road on the left. The road ascends a quarter-mile, then forks; take the right fork. Descend a quarter-mile to an oak-shaded parking area. (Due to recent rains, this dirt road is really rough -- drive very carefully; fortunately, it is not very long -- a half mile.)

After hike: Plan for a pizza (or Big Boy or Sizzler) stop on the way home.

Questions: Call Tom Irby (310) 540-3724 or E-mail BIrby:ES AE.