With the summer winding down (we return to school this coming Monday), we’re trying to get ready to go back. Four kids with busy scheduling with marching band, speech and debate, dance, and more has yielded a full, color-coded calendar. So these last few, precious, lazy days of summer are time for family fun. Yesterday morning was dedicated to breakfast at one of the many great cafes in our area and going on a hike in the Angeles National Forest.
The kids were treated to Cloverleaf in Temple City. This small café features a good selection of both sweet and savory pastries at good prices. Shown in the photo are some of our favorites: ham and cheese bun, almond croissant, cheese pillows (which are only $1.09 each!). The coffee while good- they brew Intelligentsia- is on the more expensive side. A 12 oz latte will cost you about $4.75. Still, it’s close to where we live, and we believe in supporting small businesses that offer up good products.
After coffee, we drove up to Big Santa Anita Canyon in the mountains above Sierra Madre and Arcadia. This is part of the Angeles National Forest. Parking is at the top of the road, in what is known as Chantry Flat. The trailheads begin right at the parking area. We frequent this canyon; in fact some of our scout training hikes are done up here. Today’s trail was to Hermit Falls, one we had not taken before. The hike is a moderate 1.2 miles from the fork to the falls. It is generally safe, though there are a few narrow spots you want to watch out for. About half of the route is well-shaded, the other half is in the sun, so sunscreen is a must. The falls are popular with teens as there are some large pools that are deep enough to jump into. However I would never recommend that. Every year there are reports of severe injuries and even deaths from accidents at the falls. Indeed, on this trip there were young adults still on summer break who were cliff jumping. We stayed at the pools at the top of the falls, which were cool, clear, and deep enough for the kids to get completely soaked.
Southern California offers up plenty of opportunities for some great hiking. Big Santa Anita Canyon alone has several trails that are fun day hikes, and there are areas for camping should you want to extend your adventure. A few of our favorite trails are:
Sturtevant Falls, Big Santa Anita Canyon- 1.8 miles from the Chantry Flat parking lot to the falls. This one is the more popular trail and so gets the most traffic. The kids love the rock hopping and water crossings, and at the end you’re rewarded with a beautiful 60-foot waterfall. Dogs are ok as long as they’re leashed, but I would not recommend bringing them on really hot days. The half-mile from the parking lot to the first stream crossing is paved, mostly in the sun and gets really hot. There are is a recent warning to pet-lovers because of a dog’s death that occurred as a result of heat exhaustion and his paws were severely damaged. 😦
Hoegee’s Loop, Big Santa Anita Canyon- 4.85 mile loop consisting of the Upper and Lower Winter Creek Trails. This hike does not end with a waterfall but follows the stream through the tranquil forest. Hoegee’s Campground is a pleasant spot for lunch. We’ve seen bears on a couple of our hikes which the kids thought was really cool.
Switzer Falls, Arroyo Seco Canyon- The trail begins at the Switzer Picnic Area off the CA-2 highway, and descends to the stream below the falls. We’ve taken our Cub Scouts on this hike, but we stay at the top of the trail (which makes it an easy, flat hike), and end up at the top of the waterfall. Parking can be a pain especially on busy weekends. But it is a beautiful, shaded hike with plenty of stream crossings.
All three of these locations are part of the Angeles National Forest. An Adventure Pass is required to park within the forest. This may be purchased at REI or Big 5. You may also visit the Forest Service website for a complete list of vendors.
Those are just a few of our favorites. I’ll share more in future posts. There is so much to do an see in the great outdoors of Southern California.