Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hiking Arroyo Seco- Paul Little Campground

As previously detailed herein, I have been on a lazy streak recently. I do not want to travel far from my base in LA city to hit the trails (half hour trip is my perfect sweet spot). I nearly fell out of my chair when I found out about a long stretch of trail wending its way into the mountains from Pasadena which was definitely within my 1/2 hour sphere. Enter the Arroyo Seco.

I picked up the Gabrielino Trail near the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and as a sign of things to come, the parking lot was PACKED despite being before the 8am hour. Thankfully, parking on side streets are abundant so I parked and suited up for the trail. The trail full of bikers, dogs, hikers and pavement.

And also jet engines.

(hmmm jetty)

Now don't worry you trail freaks, the pavement doesn't last long, only about a mile or so. The whole trail follows a creek and for those suffering from weekend hangovers, blessedly flat. There is an elevation gain that I measured of 500 feet once you hit the Paul Little Campground but those 500 feet do not present themselves in any material way, it is a pleasant walk in the canyon.

The trail is also pretty strait-forward, the only split you need to be mindful one is after you cross the first bridge (more on the bridges in a moment), head to the left when you see this sign:

One amazing thing about this trail is the number of bridges you cross as you get deeper into the canyon. You might not know this about me but I am an artist and I am going to be putting on a one-person show entitled "The Bridges Of The Angeles" here in LA. Here is a preview of the exhibition.

(this last one needs some "slight" repair)

The bridge in need of repair is the last one, from then on the trail still followed the stream but you have to cross it several times sans bridge so be prepared in footwear. I have a pretty solid pair of Italian boots that are waterproof so often I just push through the streams but often you will see downed trees or rocks that are also solid ways to cross if you are so inclined.

There is also one crossing that brought me back to my family's lumberjack days.

I don't want to undersell the beauty of this hike by talking about the crossings all the time. The stream offers beautiful views

The canyon offers beautiful views

and also some Indiana Jones-claustrophobic ones.

Eventually you DO get to the Paul Little campground which serves as the turnaround point on the trail

I mean, you COULD go on past this campground to Oakwilde but that is technically closed off and if you are found wandering the trail, you can get a ticket from a ranger or some such stuff. There are some nice picnic benches to rest the haunches for a bit.

What was a little disconcerting hearing the occasional traffic on the Angeles Crest Highway while deep in the canyon. It truly reminds you that humanity encroaches on the wilderness in a myriad of ways.

Then, it is back the way you came. Some jokers built up a bike ramp to jump over the log the forest service placed at the campground to stop people from proceeding forward. I am not a huge fan of this, let the forest rest is my mantra but so be it.

The hike back was really nice as the morning warmed up. Overall, who knew this pleasant gentle canyon hike was right near LA in Pasadena? I really can't recommend it enough, definitely a MUST HIKE!


  1. I usually hike that one in the winter. Great to see there's still water in August!

  2. Thanks Kyle! I don't know if you check out Dan's hiking blog but on one of his trip reports, he mentioned how he spent many minutes trying to ford several of the rivers. I could see what he was talking about but the water level was pretty low when I went hiking a few weekends ago. Glad it was!

  3. This is a huge, huge year for the seniors. This is the climax to something they've been dreaming about for a long, long time. We have a saying, 'Enjoy the journey.' We had it last year, and we're not changing it this year.

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