Saturday, January 28, 2012

Monrovia Canyon Falls Hike - January 28, 2012

Monrovia Canyon FallsSee Monrovia Canyon Falls Description on Dan's Hiking Pages

The forecast of gorgeous weather and a few weeks off from hiking demanded that I hit the trail today. A full plate for the weekend meant a hike close and short. The clear visibility suggested a peak but I decided on beautiful Monrovia Canyon. It’s been a couple years so I was eager to return to one of my favorite waterfall hikes.

After a 15-minute drive from Azusa to Monrovia, I park on Canyon Drive just south of Ridgeside Drive. I park here to avoid the $5 parking fee in the park. There are a few cars.

7:10 - Begin hike. It’s a brisk 47 degrees. In a few minutes I reach the park gate and am surprised to see it open. The sign indicates that the park opens at 7 a.m. on weekends. It used to be 8 a.m. I continue the half mile up the road to the park entrance. Chat with entrance station attendant.

Bill Cull Trail, Monrovia Canyon7:25 - Begin on Bill Cull Trail. The narrow, well-traveled trail climbs through rich chaparral. I love the early morning. The sun lands on the ridge tops and the valley below. The morning aroma is pleasant. The nice rain last Monday certainly aided the greening up of the vegetation. The deciduous trees and shrubs like big leaf maple, sycamore, alder, and poison oak are mostly leafless. There is not much in bloom...a lone wallflower, some everlasting, wild cucumber, wishbone bush. Views over the canyon open up. A gentleman passes me heading up the trail at a little faster pace. Soon a lady passes me. I cross the creek and switch back southeast. A couple ladies pass me going the other direction.

Check dam in Monrovia Canyon7:44 - Falls Trail junction. Turn left and head north up canyon. Two ladies are not far behind me. Their incessant, loud jabber spoils the quietness of the setting. In a couple minutes I pass the first of five “Lincoln log” check dams. The evergreen leaves of oak and bay stand in contrast to the leafless deciduous trees. There is such a beauty to this canyon. The park staff and volunteers do a great job in maintain the trail and keeping the park nice. At 1.7 miles from the entrance station, the canyon narrows as I approach the falls. A group of five is leaving.

Monrovia Canyon Falls8:02 - Monrovia Canyon Falls. I’m the only one here. It’s a peaceful setting but I know the solitude won’t last for long. The falls are flowing nicely, tumbling 30 feet in two tiers. A sign has been posted prohibiting climbing the rock faces and falls. After a couple minutes the noisy ladies arrive and turn the site into their gym. More people arrive. More loud voices. I don’t linger long. Leave the falls at 8:14.

Monrovia CanyonMy stroll back is leisurely and mostly peaceful, interrupted occasionally by noisy-voiced people heading to the falls. At the junction I veer left and take the two-minute walk to the nature center. The grassy picnic area is serene. Early morning sun filters through the trees. There is no one here. I look around. The last time I was here there were deer grazing, but none today. I linger about 15 minutes then head back down the trail. When I reach the Bill Cull Trail junction I continue on the main trail for another few minutes to the road and the middle trailhead. I retrace my steps to Bill Cull Trail junction for my return. People traffic is increasing. I’m now in full sun with expanding views over the canyon.

Monrovia Canyon9:17 - Arrive at junction of a trail that heads northwest. I’ve been on that trail before coming over from Clamshell Truck Road from the west (August 2006). It’s fenced off now and a sign reads, “Do Not Enter, Restricted Area.” Another sign says, “Closed for re-vegetation.” This area has not burned in years and the native chaparral is healthy and robust. There is no need to re-vegetate. Somebody is not being truthful here. I’ll take the 5th regarding what I did for the next 40 minutes.

Monrovia Canyon Park Enterance10:03 - Bill Cull Trail trailhead. I talk with a park employee about the “restricted area” and he says that they are studying the area for the visibility for a trail. After using the restroom I asked another park employee about the current condition of Ben Overturf Trail to Deer Park. He said it was excellent. They’ve been doing a lot of work on it. It’s been 16 years since I hiked it. I keep thinking I should do a write-up on it but it has not had a strong enough pull to get me back. I guess I’m more drawn to peaks and waterfalls. I leave the entrance station at 10:16 and walk the road back to the car, enjoying the sunshine and the beauty of the day.

10:30 - End hike at car. The temperature is 77 degrees.

WallflowerEpilog - Very enjoyable outing. Despite some obnoxiously loud people, the beauty of the canyon, the crispness of the early morning, green plants, flowing water, flowers, warm sunshine, blue sky, and good exercise makes for a splendid hike. icon

See Monrovia Canyon Falls Description on Dan's Hiking Pages


  1. This looks like a great hike. How far is it from the gate to the waterfall and how would you rate the trail (strenuous, moderate, easy?) I'll have to maybe check this one out.


  2. Just did this hike a few weeks ago. The sign at the trailhead now says it's 1 3/4 miles from the start of the trail to the falls. There used to be dueling signs there, with the other one giving a distance of 1 1/2 miles.

    It's 3/4 mile from the trailhead back down to the Canyon Drive/Ridgeside Drive place where on-street parking is permitted (except for a few hours on street sweeping days). That's based on the "Fountain to the Falls" distance signs.

    Most of the hike is pretty level, except for a short but somewhat steep climb at the start of the dirt portion of the trail and another spot where the trail has been rerouted to dodge a landslide.