Shortcut Canyon

This week I parked a little farther up CA-2, the same place I parked when I hiked to Vetter Mountain Lookout.  This time I traveled in the opposite direction toward Mount Wilson.  This is a short but tiring hike – the last couple of miles are uphill and the bottom section is along a rugged creek with many water crossings and downed trees across the trail.  My turnaround point was West Fork Camp, which was also my turnaround for my Red Box to West Fork Camp hike.  It feels good to connect trails.  Another beautiful day in the San Gabriel Mountains.

1     2   The trailhead is well marked.  Follow a short set of switchbacks down to a dirt road.  Take a right on the road and follow it a couple hundred yards to pick up the trail again.

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The trail into Shortcut Canyon is part of Silver Moccasin Trail.  It immediately descends into the canyon.

7   Soon I passed under these power lines and found unobstructed views of Mount Wilson and the peaks adjacent.


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13   On zoom – Some of the antennae and the observatory (on the right of photo 1) atop Mount Wilson, San Gabriel Peak and Mount Disappointment.  I still don’t know what the stony mountain is in photo 3 and I’m kind of sick of seeing it and not knowing.  Mount Lowe?  Mount Markham?  Whatever it is, it looks amazing.

14     15     16   The trail headed down for a couple of miles.  It went down but sometimes, somehow, it didn’t seem like I was getting any lower.

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Photo 3 – There were more pretty flowers blooming this week.


22     23   I reached a little shade.  The morning weather was so nice I almost didn’t need it.

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26   Finally I reached the flat bottom and the beginning of the creekside hiking portion.  If memory serves me, this is actually the second water crossing (of many).  Things got a little rough and I experienced the typical creekside trail issues – water crossings, slippery rocks, downed trees, bugs and a trail that seemed to disappear every once in awhile.

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This has to be the most gorgeous fungus I have seen on the trail.  I love the rings of blue and purple.


Under, over or around.  Under, over or around.  Tree after tree.

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33a   Photo 1 – I spotted these telephone poles off the trail I figured I must be pulling into the camp.  However, when I got close to them I noticed there were no wires, just the poles left abandoned.  Ghost poles!  Photo 2 – The occasional cairn let’s people know they’re on the right path, but if lost just follow the creek.  You’ll find the trail soon.  I imagine this trail would be much harder to hike were the water level higher.  It’s not just the crossings, sometimes the trail just heads straight down the creek.

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Photo 2 – I came upon these inspiring trees, there was something almost divine happening at this moment as the sun lit them up from behind.  I also like the long wooden “staff” lying at their feet.

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40       41   Photo 2 – Take a left at this rock-tree mutant-hybrid.  Photo 4 – The water running down the creek was crystal clear.


I came to the largest crossing yet, which is part of the West Fork of the San Gabriel River.  The creek which I had been following empties here.  This is the last crossing and it sits right below West Fork Campground.

43     44   Photo 1 – Evidence of humans  Photo 2 – I arrive at West Fork Campground.  Deserted, peaceful and quiet as could be.


I took at seat and ate lunch at one of the picnic tables overlooking the river.  Bliss!

46     47     51   Once again I toyed with the idea of heading down river another mile to Devore Camp, but knew the most difficult part of my day was still ahead of me – the hike back along the creek and then a two mile climb.  I decided to skip Devore again and head back.

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Wild Animals!  Photos 1 and 2 – Nicely camouflaged froggie.  Photo 3 – The swallowtail butterflies were out today.  When I was at the camp, two flew right in front of me, meeting together and then spiraling around each other, disappearing up in the sky.

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I actually looked forward to getting to the climbing section.  The trail is easier to follow than by the creek, and the bugs disappeared as well.  Although there is little shade on this section, a cool wind would occasionally crop up and offer relief.

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Photo 4 – One last look back at Mount Wilson and Shortcut Canyon.

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