Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Garcia Trail Hike - August 1, 2010

Azusa PeakSee Garcia Trail Hike Description on Dan’s Hiking Pages

My beloved Garcia Trail—five minutes from my house and my de facto scrappy hike. When we moved to Azusa in 1990, hiking trails were not high on our list of features in buying a house. But this great little trail has become a beloved friend.

After last weekend’s overnighter, I didn’t feel like doing much in hiking this weekend, but I knew I needed to do something to keep me in condition. So Garcia it is. And with the unseasonably moderate temperatures, I won’t have to hit the trail at the crack of dawn.

I sleep in, get my stuff together, and am on the trail by 7:50 a.m.—quite late by my usual summer standards. The temperatures are very pleasant. This popular trail is only 1.2 miles to the ridge, but it’s quite steep, climbing 886 feet per mile. I set off at a serious pace and soon am sweating and huffing. A group of six young adults are not far behind me. Not much in bloom. The sun is shining here but a thick marine layer dominates the horizon to the south. Wispy white clouds above accent the blue sky. The new Target store being built near our house looks massive. I slow my pace a little in the top third. I let the young adults pass me.

Garcia Trail 8:27 - Arrive at the ridge, the upper end of Garcia Trail where it intersects Glendora Ridge Motorway. Striking views into San Gabriel Canyon and the high country beyond. I linger only briefly, then climb the steep path east to Azusa Peak. The young adults are coming down.

8:35 - Azusa Peak (2081’). Been here many times. Lots of memories. The large wooden cross erected in February 2007 has become an icon on this summit, filled with signatures, sayings, scriptures, and assorted comments. Since I was here last in February, someone attached a mailbox to the cross containing a summit log book. And someone completed painting the cross white. Browsed through some of the entries. In my hikes to here, often this is the final destination, making a three-mile round trip hike. But today I’ll proceed east on the fire road to get some more distance on my legs and feet.

8:50 - Leave summit heading east. Temps still pleasant with refreshing breezes. A 180-degree panorama of the San Gabriels spreads out before me to the north. I pick out more than a dozen peaks that I’ve climbed and a few more that are still on my hit list. It’s really quite peaceful up here. Dirt roads are not my first choice for hiking, but I’ve always loved the expansive scenery here in my back yard. I look back west toward Fish Ridge and Van Tassel Ridge and ponder the current fight over mining them and wonder what their future holds. The road climbs steeply. The surrounding dry grass is a huge contrast from the greenness of February, but the landscape is still beautiful. I traverse the north face of Glendora Peak and bend around to the east side of the summit to meet the use path heading up the gentle slope. Foot traffic has worn a path through the dead grass. A short scamper takes me to the summit.

View from Glendora Peak 9:35 - Glendora Peak (2596’). The survey marker is dated 1937. The large rounded summit offers nice views. Sometimes this has been my destination, making a respectable five-mile round trip hike. But today I stay only five minutes because I want to get some more mileage in. Leave the summit and continue east on the road, descending a little before climbing to the next high point.

9:54 - Jct. at water tank 8. This was going to be my destination, but I decide to wander down the road just a bit more to see if there’s a better vantage point. I veer right and make a short ascent to a buckwheat-covered high spot with reaching views. I really love these mountains. I gaze east toward Little Dalton Canyon looking for any signs of the fire that started there yesterday, but see nothing. Linger a bit and study the map. Head back to the water tank junction and take the firebreak out along the ridge rutting north. It had been freshly graded. Amazing views. Sit on the water collection slab and tend my feet. Still pleasant temps. Have a snack. Back at the junction I ascend another small hill on the south side of the road for some more vistas.

View North from Glendora Ridge10:50 - Leave junction at water tank 8 and head back. See a coyote with fresh prey it its mouth. Jogger passes—first person I’ve encountered since Azusa Peak. Stop occasionally to photograph plants: poison oak, yucca, everlasting, lupine, telegraph weed. As I near Azusa Peak, a couple hikers approach. We chat.

11:39 - Ridge junction beginning my descent on Garcia Trail. Hiking a fire road isn’t too bad when the hike begins and ends on a single track trail. Temps are still ok but starting to get a tad warm. The breeze is not as pronounced as it was on the ridge. I enjoy solitude virtually the whole route down. Encounter two hikers near the end.

12:17 - Finished. The car thermometer reads 80 degrees—not bad for a mid-summer day. I covered somewhere around 6.5 miles with about 1,900 feet in elevation gain. A rewarding outing, and only five minutes from home! Can’t beat that! icon

See Garcia Trail Hike Description on Dan’s Hiking Pages


  1. Thanks for your post, Dan. I love your descriptions of the hikes and your photos.

    Your Fellow Hiker,

    Jennifer :)

  2. Thanks, Jennifer! Heading to Griffith Park this evening. Should be fun.