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.

1

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

11               12

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.

8       19      20       9

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

21               22

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.

28               29

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.

31               30

32               33

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

34       35      36       37

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.

40

Looking east.

41

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

42               43

A couple of closer shots of Strawberry Peak.

44

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.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *