Fire Road 2N79 – Angeles Crest Highway
Quite an interesting day. As I drove home last week I noticed a sign for Grizzly Flat off of Angeles Crest Highway. I found the trail in one of my guidebooks and made my plan to hike to Grizzly Flat and then beyond, a seven mile round trip. But my plan was doomed from the first step because the trailhead described in the book was actually located down the road a bit from where I started. My fault, no doubt, but maybe you can forgive my confusion as the location from where I started had a sign marked “GRIZZLY FLAT TRHD” and the trail I took was labeled Grizzly Flat Road on my GPS. One can get to Grizzly Flat from where I began, although it will add a couple miles total to the hike. When I got to a three way junction a couple of miles in I again took the wrong trail because I was on the wrong trail in the first place. I hope you’re now not as confused as I was on this day. Beyond all that, I still had a great time. The trail I took was interesting and had great views, and it’s one I never would have taken it because it doesn’t have a “trail name” and isn’t listed in any guidebook. I actually feel pretty lucky to have made my mistake. I’ll be back for Grizzly Flat another day soon.
I parked in a large, open pullout on left of the highway, about six miles up from the 210 Freeway. I passed where I was supposed to park, the trailhead for Dark Canyon, which is sheltered by trees and unmarked, with less space for cars to park. Dark Canyon trailhead is right across from mile marker 30.02. I knew this driving up CA-2, but those mile markers are hard to read in the dark.
I began up the winding fire road, enjoying the mountain and city views.
Photo 1 gives a good picture of where I parked and the road I took, which starts south, turns north, and eventually goes south again. My map and the trail were just not lining up, I came to a platform (I still don’t know what these things are although I’ve seen them on several trails). Just beyond was a split in the trail. Because the trail that runs through Dark Canyon splits and then reconnects, I figured incorrectly that I was on the right trail. I went left.
After a couple of miles I came to that multi-trail junction that I mentioned earlier. I continued on the widest trail which, coming from the direction from which I came, was the middle trail. Photos 2 and 3 – Fun looking drainage chutes on the side of the hill. The water then continues down this stone and concrete “waterfall”.
I kept climbing and climbing on a moderate incline, so I eventually knew something was wrong. I should have been down in the canyon at creek level by now.
I reached a junction between two roads – 2N79 and 2N76. Finally I could pinpoint exactly where I was. I had overshot the trail to Grizzly Flat by two miles. I had options but none worked for me. I could have continued on to Mount Lukens on 2N76, adding seven more miles to the trip, or I could have backtracked to the multi-trail junction and headed to Grizzly Flat, also adding seven more miles. Instead I thought it wisest to rest, eat lunch and make this my turnaround point.
I headed a few yards up a trail by the side of the road to a cluster of pine trees. I could see them from a distance as I traveled. Photo 4 – Looking down from the pines, in view is the junction between 2N79 and 2N76. 2N79 is the low road and it’s the one I started on when I began the day.
Awesome views! Some of the most prominent peaks in the Front Country.
On zoom from left to right is Josephine Peak, Strawberry Peak and Mount Lawlor.
Again on zoom from left to right – the barley visible antennae mark Mount Disappointment. The pointy peak to the right of that is San Gabriel Peak. Beyond that I could see Mount Wilson and I believe that may be Mount Harvard in the back, right corner.
Beneath the pines on the same trail sat this large, flat concrete structure which holds emergency water – just the perfect place to sprawl out and eat lunch. I made a couple of new friends, two lizards that, I assume, crawl down into the tank and drink the water.
Photo 2 – I love this shrub’s green bark. Photos 3 and 4 – Heading back I passed the chutes again and noticed another that drops down from the side of the trail.
After backtracking two miles I was back at the multi-trail junction. Photo 1 shows the trail I should have taken, 2N80A, which leads to Grizzly Flat. Another time, maybe soon. Photo 2 – From the junction I looked over the side toward CA-2 and spotted the trail that runs up through Dark Canyon. Photo 3 – And then I spotted what I correctly assumed was the parking area for the Dark Canyon trailhead. It’s that little pullout on the right just after the yellow sign.
I hiked back to that very first trail junction where the concrete platform with the mushroom spray painted on it stands. I went left in the morning. Checking my map I found that the trail to the right dead ends in about a mile. I figured this would be a good way to add a little extra distance.
This road leads up to several transmission towers but it’s not very well maintained. The drop-off is also quite steep.
I thought the trail would end once I reached the first set of transmission towers, but I turned the corner and found three more at the top of the hill. I pressed on. Photo 2 – Right next to the towers stands what I believe to be Hoyt Mountain.
Looking northwest and then south from the top of the hill. Just as I reached the end of the road the rain began to fall. Not hard, but enough to light a fire under me and get me moving again.
Photos 1 and 2 – I drove down the road and stopped at the Dark Canyon parking area. This is what the road looks like across from the trailhead. Notice milage marker 30.02. Photo 3 – The trailhead for Dark Canyon. Now that I know where everything is, hiking to Grizzly Flat should be a breeze.