Mount Zion Loop
The first real hike I ever did was at this spot in the San Gabriel Mountains. I wasn’t even sure this was the same place until this day. This is a popular hike with extraordinary canyon and creekside scenery. Aside from a few loud and clueless visitors and all the trash along the trail, I had a great time.
The weather report called for a sunny day. At seven am Chantry Flat was enveloped in a heavy mist. From the parking lot I started down a steep paved road. I hiked the loop in a counter-clockwise direction, heading for Sturtevant Falls. There are several cabins by the side of the trail. These little cabins are privately owned. What an amazing setting for a weekend cabin.
The creek near the start of the trail. Photo 2 – Tree roots stretch for the water.
Soon I came to a four way junction. Straight ahead leads to the Sturtevant Falls.
Walking up to the falls. When I was here all those years ago the falls were a zoo, with people splashing around, yelling, etc. Today I had the place all to myself for as long as I wanted. I sat there deeply breathing the fresh air, listening to the falls white noise and basking in my solitude – Heaven.
Photo 1 – Looking up the steep hill next to the falls. The signs posted here say “No Shortcutting”, as at the top of the hill is another trail. Photo 2 – Now back at the four way junction, I opted for Lower Falls Trail. The trails in this area are very well marked. Photo 3 – I heard Lower Falls Trail is not for the faint of heart due to the steep drop offs. I have to admit there were sections that made me nervous. Don’t stop, don’t hesitate, just keep moving forward. Photo 4 – I passed above the shortcut down to the falls that I was looking up a few minutes before. Photo 5 – The falls can be seen (sort of) through the trees.
There are countless falls ahead, big and small.
Photo 1 – Screaming Blue Face Photos 2 and 3 – Interesting pod plants on the trail
Something unique to this trail, in my experience, are all the outhouses and, shown here, emergency call boxes. The call boxes are part of a primitive phone system one can see running throughout the canyon (just a single wire draped up on tree limbs). The map I was using marked the location of the call boxes and outhouses, making for easy navigation.
There were a couple of big boulders that almost looked like carved heads.
I came to another little waterfall with a small cave at the top. I wondered how many people have been injured trying to get inside this cave. To the right is a different cave, an ivy covered cave. Photos 3 and 4 were taken from inside the ivy cave.
I pass Cascade picnic area.
A scene from yesteryear. A mule train arrived for a nearby cabin. This is how people get their supplies in this area.
Photo 1 – Sturtevant Camp Photo 3 – I mistakenly thought the cliffside hiking was done after Upper Falls Trail but there was quite a bit more over the course of the hike. Not easy when you have to hop over downed trees. Photo 4 – The loop rises out of the canyon and continues on Mount Zion Trail. Look for the sign that marks the turn-off to the summit.
Views from Mount Zion on a cloudy day
Photo 1 – Another cabin, this one along another connecting trail, Lower Winter Creek Trail. Photos 2 and 3 – A mine shaft on Lower Winter Creek Trail. The inside is a tight squeeze. You’d have to crawl on hands and knees to get very far.
VIDEO: Birdie bath time!
Now looking toward where the falls drop over the side. Photo 2 – The water runs between the boulders and over the edge.
I could hear people below but couldn’t find a clear path ahead. There was a super steep path to the right, shown in photo 1, that looked very dangerous. I passed. I thought I might my way around the rocks next to the falls but that was too gnarly as well. I headed back.
As I climbed out of the canyon on the short paved section I began on, I noticed the promised sunny day had finally materialized.
Can’t wait to come back here again. Amazing area.