Gabrielino Trail: Arroyo Seco

I needed an easy hike to counter the stressful week I had at work.  This trail is easy to find and easy to hike.  I followed a route which was once a road, most of which was washed away decades ago.  I barely felt tired after this 8 1/2 mile round trip over mostly flat terrain.  Starting in Altadena, Arroyo Seco Trail is the first 4 miles of the 28.5 mile Gabrielino Trail.

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I parked in a paved lot less than a mile from the freeway and right across from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  Shown in photo 1, the Verdugo Mountains get lit up by the morning Sun.  Photo 2 shows JPL in the foreground with Mount Lukens behind.

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7   The hike starts out on a paved road which is closed to traffic.  There are several small bridges to cross over or walk around.  Many are in a state of serious disrepair.  There are also numerous easy stream crossings.

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Into the abyss I go.  The further I went, the further I felt removed from civilization.  Yay!

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14       15   Along the trail there are remnants of small buildings, cabins I assume.  In many cases all that’s left are a few stairs or a stone wall.  There are three signed stops along the trail.  The first, about 2 1/2 miles in, is Gould Mesa campsite.

16   Views opened up a little.

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Photo 1 – The canyon narrows.  Photo 2 – Walking over another bridge.  It’s just about been swallowed up by dirt from the hillside.

23     24     25   The marker on the bridge dated 1934.  The so-called Flood of the Century, which wiped out much of the road here, occurred just four years later.  A large portion of the bridge is simply gone.  Photo 3 shows the stacks of stones the bridge was built upon.

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For a very short while I was walking across stone.

28     29   Paul Little Picnic Area is the third and final signed area on the trail (the first is Gould Mesa, the second is Nino Picnic Area).  It looked like some buildings have been lost to fire.  On the ground level there are just a couple of picnic tables sitting out in the Sun.  There is also a shady area up some stairs with a bench and table.  My next stop was supposed to be Oakwilde Camp, another 0.8 miles further.


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33   I continued on the road and came to a dead end at this dam.  A decent amount of water coming over the top.  I knew I was supposed to take a trail that led above the dam but I couldn’t find it.

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I backtracked looking for the turn-off to Oakwilde.  I saw a shirt tied to a branch marking a faint trail but it lead to another dead end.  I spoke to a couple of people who seemed to know the area well.  I was told that the trail up to Oakwilde had been damaged in a fire and is “very difficult to pass”.  Another guy told me he felt lucky to be alive after attempting the route.  I located the beginning of the trail (I think), to the right of that first yellow sign.  There is a marker stating that the trail is closed.  I went up a bit further.  In the short distance I traveled I could see the trail was in bad shape with lots of loose dirt and washouts.  Maybe it gets better the higher you climb.

38     39   Heading back now I again passed Gould Mesa Camp.  The entrance is much more inviting coming from this direction.

40     41   I wanted to explore one more area.  I looked for an unsigned picnic area called Teddy’s Outpost.  I thought it might be by that first washed out bridge.  I climbed up to a flat area above the trail but only found boulders and poison oak.

42     43   Photo 1 – Blooming Cape Ivy wrapping itself around a fence along the trail.  Photo 2 – Just about back to my car now, checking out JPL’s weird looking parking structure.

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