Sunday, May 6, 2012

Fish Canyon Falls Hike - May 5, 2012

See Fish Canyon Falls Hike Description at Dan's Hiking Pages

I love Fish Canyon. It’s one my favorite trails and certainly my favorite waterfall in the San Gabriels. I always look forward to the access days provided by Vulcan in the springtime. This year I hit the trail on April 7, one week before the access days began, in order to check trail conditions before the crowds. I usually hike Fish Canyon on several of the access days in spring, but this time I decided to use some restraint in staying away the last three weeks to focus on some other things. This weekend seemed ideal.

My plan is to meet my friend Ray and his group at 8 a.m. I arrive at the Vulcan Materials shuttle loading area right on time but the group is not here yet. Lots of hikers are waiting for the next van. After waiting 20 minutes with no sign of my group, I decide to catch a van and hit the trail.

8:23 - Begin hike. It’s a beautiful sunny day but it’s still cool in the shady canyon right now. There are many more flowers in bloom than a month ago. My pace is casual as I soak in the beauty around me. I stop often to photograph flowers. Morning dew still sits on the plants. Everything is green. The deciduous trees and other plants are now pretty leafy. I love the aroma of nature. Hikers pass me coming and going.

The downed trees that I reported to both Vulcan and the Forest Service a month ago are still there. As I move into the sun the lighting is vibrant. The creek provides a melodic background. I notice a eucalyptus tree that I don’t recall ever seeing being. I’m thoroughly enjoying the hike. A full color pallet of flowers grace the trail: Red, yellow, orange, blue, purple, lavender, white. Lots of poison oak with shinny, green leaves. I enjoy meeting people along the way. I ran into Chris, who I met a year ago here. I take the side jaunt to Darlin’ Donna Falls. It’s still flowing nicely.

I cross the creek easily and begin the climb up the east canyon wall. Encounter a dog owner who is belligerent about keeping his dog off a leash. The falls come into view. As I get closer I hear a pleasing melody from an ocarina (a small, round wind instrument similar to a recorder or flute).

10:03 - Fish Canyon Falls. My friend Ray sits playing the ocarina. I complained that they didn’t wait for me. He said that they waited at the bridge. Oh, I waited at the shuttle loading area. Oh well. The falls are flowing nicely. Lots of people are enjoying this splendid setting. I look around and take pictures. A stream of people continues to arrive. To me part of the satisfaction of these access days is seeing all the people experiencing the beauty of this canyon.

I leave the falls at 10:33 with Ray and the group. We stop occasionally to look at flowers. Still lots of people coming. The weather is spectacular. I lead the group on the side jaunt to see Darlin’ Donna. We enjoy a pleasant stroll down the trail.

11:40 - Finish hike. We pile into a van for our ride back through the quarry to the parked cars.

Epilog - Another thoroughly enjoyable hike in my beloved Fish Canyon! Met some nice people. Perfect weather, splendid trail, green vegetation, spring flowers, flowing creek, and a handsome waterfall cascading 80 feet to the delight of hundreds of hikers. icon

See Fish Canyon Falls Hike Description at Dan's Hiking Pages

NEXT > Fish Canyon Falls Hike - August 4, 2012
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Spanish Broom
Spanish Broom
Cytusys multiflorus
Bloomeria crocea
Prickly Pear Cactus
Prickly Pear Cactus
Opuntia Littoralis
Common Sunflower
Helianthus annuus
Bush monkeyflower/
Heart-leaved Penstemon
Bush Monkeyflower
Minulus aurantiacus
Heart-leaved Penstemon
Keckiella cordifolia
Western Thistle
Blue dicks
Western Thistle
Cirsium occidentale
Blue Dicks
Dichelostemma capitatum
Caterpillar phacelia
Caterpillar phacelia
Phacelia cicutaria
Vinca minor
Wishbone Bush
Spreading Larkspur
Wishbone Bush
Mirabilis californica
Spreading Larkspur
Delphinium patens
Cliff aster
Common yarrow
Cliff Aster
Malacothrix saxatilis
Common Yarrow
Achillea millefolium
Other plants I saw blooming in Fish Canyon today are listed below in the approximate order in which I encountered them. The asterisk (*) indicates that the plant is featured in my Fish Canyon Trail Plant Guide (April 2011).

Mustard* (yellow)
Lupine (narrow leaf) (purple)
Elegant clarkia* (lavender)
Deerweed (yellow/orange)
Common bedstraw (cream)
Western wallflower* (yellow)
Eupatory (white)
Yucca (white)
Golden yarrow* (yellow)
California buckwheat* (white)
Morning glory* (white)
Purple nightshade (purple)
Everlasting* (white)
Hollyleaf Cherry (white)
Fairy lantern (white)
Indian pink (red)
Pacific pea (white)
Tree tobacco* (yellow)

Plants See Fish Canyon Trail Plant Guide (April 2011) (PDF)

Plants See Plants and Wildflowers in the San Gabriel Mountains at Dan's Hiking Pages


  1. I still have never hiked Fish Canyon and I love so closed to it. I really need to get there some day.

    1. Well Kay, there are still more access days coming up. Treat yourself to beautiful Fish Canyon.

  2. nice opinion. thanks for posting.

  3. Hi Dan, is the trail super crowded? Do you feel it is too narrow for dogs?
    Thanks for the advice,

    1. Sarah, the trail can get quite crowded on access days and is somewhat narrow in places with steep drop-offs. I wouldn’t say it is too narrow for dogs. But dogs should always be on a lease, for many reasons, but in a nutshell, for safety and for courtesy toward other trail users. And it’s the law, both in L.A County in the National Forest (

  4. Hi Dan,

    Love your site. Just wanted to let you know that the link to this blog page from the main Fish Canyon Falls page took me instead to your Cooper Canyon Falls hike on April 28. Thought you might want to fix that. I'm going to hike Fish Canyon for the first time this Saturday. I tried the hard way over Van Tassel Ridge, but I wasn't prepared for all the poison oak and turned around at Diamond Head.


  5. Hi Dan!

    This is Christopher - I think my friend Joe and I met you on this hike last spring. I remember hearing an ocarina player by the falls as we were leaving before weran into you on the trail. That was pretty neat, seeing as I had just been checking hiking info on your blog for the first time the night before!

    I spent the summer at home in beautiful northern Ontario, Canada - some decent hiking there too. It's nice to be back in Azusa. I'm looking forward to some good hikes. Are there any local hikes you'd recommend for this season? I'm looking for a place to hike with one of my friends this Saturday.

    Thanks for keeping this blog going - it's a real blessing to many!

    Grace and peace,