For those of you looking for something close to home, this local hike is a good workout. Be sure to bring layers. It can get breezy at the top and when we stop to regroup. Since there is significant gain in the first few miles, we will stop to regroup several times so we don’t lose anyone. Please respect the slower pace and don’t start walking away as the last people are coming up to catch their breath. The plan is to hike from West Fuji to Muir Peak, Inspiration Point and Echo Mtn. We’ll be taking a lunch break at Inspiration.
This wasn’t one of Don’s favorite trails but he thought it was worth the view. This is his write-up:
Distance: 11 miles round trip
Rating: 7-8/10 Certainly for moderate to advanced level hikers, no beginners! We’ll have a 3 mile 3000 foot gain stretch, can you say Baldy?
Elevation gain: 3000 ft.
Trail: Looped single track, uneven terrain, overgrown trail, some scrambling
Duration: 6ish hours
We’ll be starting on The Lone Tree Trail, a historic route from 1888 originally built by the Rubio Canyon Land and Water Association. Most of the trail follows a steep ridge with no shade or water. In exchange for the effort, we’ll be rewarded with spectacular views. The trail is in good condition up to the electrical towers. It is in fair condition up to West Fuji (3681′), with some minor bushwhacking and route-finding, a short section of class 2 rock-climbing, and a stretch where poison oak might be creeping onto the trail. The route between West Fuji and Panorama Point receives no maintenance and could be classified as cross-country with steep (20-25% grade) uphill climbs on use trails. We’ll have a great view across Rubio Canyon toward the old incline tram bed heading to Echo Mt. I’ve also read about a couple mines in this area. After these landmarks we’ll hit up Muir Peak, try and locate Panorama Point and the official Inspiration Point. After a brief stop at the Inspiration Point Open Air shelter we’ll take the Castle Canyon trail down to Echo Mountain. Don’t think our adventure is over just yet though, because we’ll be taking the Incline Trail down from Echo to Rubio Canyon and our cars.
In the late 1880’s our local mountains had added to its list of desirable qualities, recreation. It was around this time that the Great Hiking Era started and people from the lowlands of southern California headed into the wilds of the San Gabriel Mountains. In those days of no television folks actually left their homes and ventured into the hills for adventure. Cool mountain air and fabulous views brought hikers to the upper reaches of the San Gabriels, while bubbling streams, cascades, and sylvan settings lured them into the canyons. For some it was a sporty challenge and for others it was a peaceful and spiritual coexistence with nature.
Inspiration Point (4714′) is one of five officially-named Inspiration Points in Los Angeles County alone! Interestingly, this is one of those cases where the place in common usage differs from the place officially named by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names. Most people think of Inspiration Point as the ~4540′ saddle just east of the official Inspiration Point. That location is the one used here. The official Board, for good reasons, probably couldn’t bring themselves to name a saddle a point.
Inspiration Point and the area have a rich history. The storied Pacific Electric Railway built an open-air shelter there in 1924-1925, with locating tubes showing the location of points of interest ranging from nearby sites to Catalina Island. The locating tubes are pieces of pipe that are oriented so that the view through the pipe is centered on the point of interest.
Pacific Electric was the owner of the Mt. Lowe Railway when Inspiration Point became famous. The Mt. Lowe Railway was the creation of Thaddeus S.C. Lowe and David J. Macpherson, who built it from 1892 – 1895. As is often the unhappy case, the dreamers responsible for the Railway lost control of it due to bankruptcy in 1896, and the Railway was operated by Henry Huntington through his Pacific Electric Railway Company (of the Red Car fame) from 1902 to 1936. The Mt. Lowe Railway ended at Ye Alpine Tavern, later the Mt. Lowe Tavern, 0.5 mile north of Inspiration Point. The Tavern burned in 1936; the site is now the Mt. Lowe Trail Camp.
The official Inspiration Point is the northwest end of a fairly-flat ridge that descends to the ~4540′ actual Inspiration Point and continues for one mile to a knoll at 4504′. This area has been referred to as Inspiration Point Ridge by some. The Ridge is easily seen from the Pasadena area. Muir Peak (4688′) is the highest point at the southeast end of the ridge.
Muir Peak was first climbed by John Muir in 1877, and was officially named for him in April 1991. The Peak is also known as John Muirs Peak and Muirs Peak.
The flat road connecting Inspiration Point with Muir Peak was built for the One Man & Mule Railway, which ran between Inspiration Point and Panorama Point at the end of the ridge. We couldn’t find the exact location of Panorama Point, which is not an official name, but suspect it is the 4504′ peak just before the ridge precipitously descends in elevation. If any reader can confirm this location, please let us know.
The One Man & Mule Railway was built and owned by a Mr. Zetterwall, the One Man, who came to the Alpine Tavern around 1915 to recuperate from tuberculosis. He built the railway for income. The mule, Herbert, pushed the open-bench car both ways to keep dust off the passengers. As Robinson says, this is “truly a case of putting the cart before the horse”! Actually, the Railway ran via mule only whenever the mule was not on escape, which could occur for days at a time. Herbert’s backup was a cut-down Model T Ford.
From the 210 Fwy, exit Lake Avenue and travel north to Dolores Drive. Stay slight left to Maiden Lane. Right on Rubio Canyon Road for a half mile to trailhead. Trailhead is immediately past the bridge.
Check the Weather (http://www.wunderground.com/q/zmw:91001.1.99999)
The Fine Print
PLEASE – Know your limits and abilities. Bring snacks and drink plenty of liquids when hiking. Check weather conditions and dress accordingly and be aware of your surroundings at all times. Watching out for poison oak, snakes, ticks, uneven footing, spectacular views, beautiful fauna all while interacting with awesome (usually) fellow hikers can be extremely hazardous, rewarding and fun.
The Farzan Rule: Posted hike times are the time the hike starts or we leave from a posted shuttle location. I’m aware other Meetup groups offer a grace period for late arrivals; we don’t. It’s your responsibility to know the location of the meeting spot and be there and ready to participate at the posted time. If you have any concerns about the directions feel free to contact the organizer of the event, preferably in advance of the event and not at the start time. I’m of the opinion that it’s not fair to delay an event when the majority of attendees have arrived on-time. (so named after a conversation I had with a certain un-named member)
RSVP’s: If you RSVP for an event be responsible and update your RSVP if your plans change. If your plans change at the last second and you’re not able to update your RSVP also let us know. In my opinion a no-show is someone who has no regard for following the guidelines we request from our members and will risk being removed from future events that have a limit.
VHC HIKE RATING SCALE
Rating a hike is subjective, meaning the difficulty of a hike will be in direct relation to how often you hike and the type of hike you prefer. Keep in mind that any hike can have the following: un-even hiking surfaces, various obstructions, water and/or water crossings or bouldering and/or rock hopping. A great hike will have all of these!
1 – A long walk
2 – 4 mile hike w/little elevation gain
3 – 5 mile hike w/up to1000 ft. elevation gain
4 – 5+ mile hike w/up to1500 ft. elevation gain (heart rate increases at times)
5 – 7+ mile hike w/over 1500 ft. elevation gain (heart rate increasing even more at times)
6 – 7+ mile hike w/over 2000 ft. elevation gain (at times you might be trying to remember how to perform CPR)
7 – 5+ mile hike w/over 2000 ft. elevation gain (at times you might be muttering expletives to yourself)
8 – 10+ mile hike w/over 3500 ft. elevation gain (at times you might be angry with the hike leader)
9 – 10+ mile hike w/over 5000 ft. elevation gain (at times you might be thinking of reporting the hike leader to the authorities)
10 – Use your imagination
Class 3 Scrambling: Scrambling or un-roped climbing. You must use your hands at times to hold the terrain or find your route. This may be caused by a combination of boulders, steepness and extreme terrain. Some Class 3 routes have ropes in place for assistance.
DISCLAIMER / RELEASE OF LIABILITY
IMPORTANT, PLEASE READ BELOW IN ITS ENTIRETY:
I am a volunteer (i.e. not liable for the group). Safety is a priority for everyone in the group. Think of this as hiking with a group of friends.
Outdoor sports and other events we plan can be inherently dangerous and accidents may happen. By participating in any posted event, you’re taking responsibility for your own safety and well-being. The VHC Meetup Group and its organizers are not trained leaders and we do not confirm the qualifications of any of its members to lead or participate in trips. All participants take full responsibility for their own actions. If you choose to sign up for any VHC Meetup events, you are releasing the VHC Meetup Group and it’s organizers from all liability in case of possible injuries as stated in paragraph 6.2 of the Meetup “Terms of Service” located on the bottom of the Meetup website. Your personal safety depends on your own judgment and experience.