Gabrielino Trail: Switzers to Red Box

I needed a shady trail to escape from the heat.  Not only did I get shade, it was a wonderful overcast day and this 4.2 mile section of the Gabrieleno Trail between Switzers Picnic Area and Red Box Picnic Area was easy to follow and a pleasure to hike.


Strawberry Peak from the lower Switzers parking lot.  I arrived at 6:30 a.m. and lucked out because the gate to the picnic area, usually open at 8 a.m., was open.  This saved me a short but very steep climb on a paved road at the end of my hike.

2     3     4   From the far end of the parking lot I took the paved road that broke to the right and picked up the trail after hiking through the picnic area.  I passed several of dams like the one shown in photo 3 along the way.

5   The trail runs parallel to Angeles Crest Highway, sometimes above, sometimes below.  While cars can be heard, the road feels far enough away so as not to overwhelm the experience.

6     7     10   I read a couple of reviews that warned of poison oak, and it is definitely there.  However, there’s much more of this poison oak look-a-like, California Blackberry.  The thorns on the vines are the giveaway that it’s not PO.  Photo 3 – Perfect stone bench

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13   Photo 1 and 2 – Angeles Crest Highway above.  Photo 3 – I could spot my turnaround point almost the whole way.  Red Box sits right in that saddle.

14     15   There were a couple of water crossings which were completely dry on this day.

16     17     18   There were two cons about this trail – it’s pretty rocky in some sections and, on this day at least, was very buggy.

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There were many vibrant looking yuccas on the trail, popping up on the hillside like fireworks exploding on the Fourth of July.

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23   I passed by this burnt tree which someone had decorated with rocks, old school Pagan-style.

24     25   Photo 1 – Now well above the road.  Photo 2 – That saddle always seemed close but never seemed to get any closer.

26     27   Photo 2 – There was quite a bit of Poodle Dog Bush, here stretching itself across the trail.

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Red and Green
Poison oak, a gorgeous shade of red at this time of year, wraps itself around the same plant I saw on my Strawberry Peak hike, the green one with really oily leaves.

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Bizarre deformations on these trees look like nailed up shrunken heads.

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38   I reach my turnaround. The trail comes out in the parking lot for the Haramokgna Cultural Center and right across the street is the picnic area.  Photo 3 – A template I found on the parking lot pavement.  Photo 4 – The red box for which the site is named.  Photo 5 – Gabrieleno (Gabrielino as spelled on this sign) Trail continues on for miles.  I can’t wait to hike another large chunk of it someday soon.

39   There are beautiful views from Red Box.


Looking east.


And now west: the nub-shaped high point on the left is Josephine Peak, and the high point on the right is Strawberry Peak.

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A couple of closer shots of Strawberry Peak.


Before I depart, looking back down toward Switzers.

45     46   There were small reminders along the way that kept me on track.  The second one looks like Frankenstein’s monster sniffing a flower, doesn’t it?

47   Why do humans destroy?

48     49     50   I pass the last dam and head for my car.  Great day.


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