Participants: Craig Cheetham and Tom Chester
Date: 30 July 1996 (Written up 11 August 1996)
This trail is described in the L.A. Times hiking column of 4 June 1996, page L20. Park at the upper part of the parking lot at Chantry Flats, and take the Fire Road heading southwest from the Ranger Station. Continue past the Upper Winter Creek Trail. At the heliport, 0.5 - 0.7 miles from the start, the paved road ends and the dirt road takes off from the north part of the heliport. (If you start blasting up the ridge, you're on a different hike than described here. It does look possible, if difficult, to blast up the ridge and reach the same destination.)
The road makes a big switchback to the north before finally heading south. 3-3.5 miles from the beginning, you reach a white microwave reflector on your left and can either continue on the road to the cluster of microwave antennae or continue right to the immediate viewpoint. Booth Hartley informed me that the white microwave reflector is used by the Sheriff's Department San Dimas station to communicate with the Sheriff's Command Center (SCC) on Eastern Ave. below the 10 freeway.
The view is great from the viewpoint. You can look to the west and see part of the Bailey canyon trail, Mt. Wilson towers, the Little Santa Anita Canyon trail, etc., as well as the usual good view to the south of Palos Verde Peninsula, downtown L.A., etc., and Santiago Peak in the Santa Ana Mountains to the southeast. (Catalina wasn't visible the day of our hike.)
The sign just before entering the heliport claims that the gate is locked at 6 pm, but the ranger told us that it actually wasn't locked until much later. We met lots of bicyclists as we were coming down, indicating that it is rare that the gate is locked before sunset. At 8 pm, the gate was still unlocked. It looks just barely possible to get around the gate for a lithe hiker, but it by no means is easy.
On the way back, we encountered a rattlesnake slithering across the road, making this the second rattler in two consecutive hikes a week apart. This is challenging my previous estimate of one rattler per 50 hikes in the San Gabriels - perhaps it is much more likely to encounter rattlers in July in the front range!
Once again, the flies were pretty bad. You have to be a hard-core hiker to hike in the San Gabriels in July!
Explanation of columns for all trip logs
# Mileage Time arrived Time left Altitude Comments 0 0.00 5:21 2050 Chantry Flat parking lot 1 2.95 6:49 3250 Halfway between weird structure and microwave towers 2 3.05 6:57 3300 backtracked to viewpoint. Flies were bad enough not to stop too long. 3 5.62 8:00 2400 Heliport (actual elevation 2477) 4 5.70 8:03 2350 Gate (not locked!) 5 6.20 8:17 2050 Car
Copyright © 1997-1999 by Tom Chester.
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Updated 18 June 1997 (link to removed url deleted 1 December 1999)