Gabrielino Trail: Red Box to West Fork Camp

I thought I was done with the San Gabriel Mountains for awhile, due to the cold weather, but a recent warm spell brought me back this week to bite off another chunk of Gabrielino Trail.  I had a fine day but it was really buggy – scores of relentless little flies swarming around me.  At least they’re kind of polite, they got very close to my face but rarely landed on it.

1   The night before my hike, the Goodyear Blimp flew over my backyard.


I arrived at Red Box Picnic Area just as the Sun began to rise.

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These snow-capped mountains were one of the day’s best features.

5   I don’t believe the sign at the trailhead is 100% accurate.  According to my map West Fork Trail Camp is 5.3 miles and Devore Trail Camp is 6.4 miles.


Beautiful old stone stairs start the trail, but be careful stepping on the big black one near the bottom – it’s slick.

7     8     9   There was quite a bit of shade along the well maintained trail.

10   The trail took me down into the canyon and runs parallel to the West Fork of the San Gabriel River.

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The trail sometimes felt as if it might be swallowed by all the California blackberry brambles.  They look just like poison oak but the vines have thorns on them.  Learning that has saved me a lot of unnecessary stress.

15     16     17   Join Us!  I passed a couple of little cabins situated right off the trail.  The one in photo 2 didn’t survive some fire.

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I had to maneuver over and around a few obstacles – fallen trees and water crossings.

20     21     22   After 2.3 miles I came to a junction.  The main trail continues up to the right, but first I headed down about a quarter of a mile to Valley Forge Trail Camp, just to check it out.  Nice, deserted but too close to the trailhead for my taste.

23   I hiked back up to the junction and continued on the main trail.  After Valley Forge, the trail narrows and stays that way for much of the way.

24     25   Across the canyon is an old road which parallels and sometimes intersects with Gabrielino Trail.  I would follow that route on the way back.

26   Most of the time my view was obscured by trees, but every so often I would break into the open.  I turned one corner and had I had a nice view of the antennae on top of Mount Wilson.



29   And hiking in the San Gabriels, spectacular mountain views are a given.


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Photo 1 – Watch out for poodle dog bush, a plant which can cause rashes similar to poison oak.  It grows next to and sometimes over the trail.  Photo 2 – A little yucca takes shelter between three rocks.  Photo 3 – The trail got a little messy in places.  I kept pushing.

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Photo 1 – Super Green X

37     38     39   I started to see signs of humans – a concrete bunker-looking structure and a water tank.  I figured I must be close to West Fork Camp and was correct.

40     41     42   Although a bit tired and facing a mostly uphill return to Red Box, I decided to keep going and try for Devore Trail Camp, 1.1 miles away.  Photo 2 – Had to climb over all this stuff.

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About a third of a mile from West Fork camp the trail runs into this pile of logs with no easy way to get around.  I climbed on top and could see the trail across but decided this was a good place to turn around.

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Pretty fungus growing on the dead wood.

47     48     49   I hiked back to the camp.  At this point I had an option to return the way I came, on Gabrielino Trail, or take that old road.  I opted for the road hoping it would be less buggy.  It wasn’t.

50     51     52   Yucca, Top to Bottom

53   If the Johnson Brothers are wondering where wagon #5 is…

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Just before the last long climb to the top I exited the road and got back on the trail.  I was relieved to see these stairs.  It seemed to take forever to get back to them.  Had a wonderful day!



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