Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Hiking Wild Millard Canyon
Yup, there it is, a rough little canyon nestled in the Angeles National Forest. Its a hot hike to get to the canyon, a rough trail picking your way through the boulders and poison oak and then a suspect vertical trail to get to the Dewey Mine. Yeah, this hike didn't go well.
It had been awhile since I stepped foot in the Angeles. I just re-upped my Adventure Pass (regardless of what the courts say, I am glad to contribute money directly to the forests of SoCal) and was all set for adventure:
The trail starts off unlike many SoCal trails, in that it is paved in the beginning
but eventually you take a left at this sign
and start taking a rather narrow kayak trail that hugs the side of the mountains as you make your way closer to the canyon.
While the trail is never "too" narrow, you might get a touch of vertigo if you start looking over the precipice for too long.
As you can see from that picture, there isn't much shade on the trail so definitely bring lots o water during the Summertime as you will be sweating pretty good despite the relative flatness of the trail. Once you make the turn (you will know the one when you turn it) there is shade, I promise.
Aside from the quest for shade, there is beauty to be seen in the mountains and this trail provides some knockout views.
At this point in the day (another late day hike, it doesn't matter in Summer) I was feeling hot but good. In order to get into the canyon proper, you need to head left at this trail junction.
You will know if you are going the right way if the cabin is on your right.
As you drop down into the canyon, the shade makes you cooler but the trail gets rougher. For the next mile and a half (or until you give up) you are making your way across the stream, on rough trails and working up quite the lather.
At the bottom of the descent, you can see what lies before you, a canyon choked with vegetation, trees and water. Its going to be like this for the next few miles.
There are well worn footpaths.
All I will say is keep to the right when possible. Staying in the center (near/in the stream) or to the left will start running you into poison oak pretty regularly. Sometimes, you have to bushwhack it like so:
There were several other people galavanting in the canyon but for the most part, especially given that it was Summertime and HOT, you are basically in a me, myself and I situation. A situation not made easier when then guides you are using saying to turn uphill at this rusted drain pipe
and then having to head straight uphill with a huge slope just so you don't have to climb over the boulders if you stuck more with the stream. This is a blog post about failure because at this point, after huffing it up canyon and now faced with going up a severe hill to an uncertain goat path, I packed it in. I never got to see Dewey Mine (which is often the point of Millard Canyon).
I am more than ok with this decision. I haven't bushwhacked much and hiking this canyon showed me my skills are lacking a bit. Given what had gone before, I was happy to turn around at about the 2 mile mark and get back to the car, hoping not to be plagued by the oakis poisioness.
There is beauty in this canyon, I don't want to get all downtownclownfrown on it.
It is also amazing that there is a place this wild this close to LA. Literally you take a left off a residential street and then climb for a mile into the mountains into a rugged remote spot and blammo, you are there.
Overall, I liked aspects of this hike but had enough with it early on. I didn't get to see the mine and it was hot but this is a rugged piece of land and puts up a worthy challenge if you want it.
If you want a more accurate description about how to get out and about, I suggest checking out Dan's trail description: http://www.simpsoncity.com/hiking/dawn.html
Posted by Peter Flanigan at 9:32 AM