See Jones Peak Hike Description at Dan's Hiking Pages
Jones Peak holds a special place and for me. It was the first summit I climbed in the San Gabriel Mountains. Every day in my drive to and from work on the 1-210 Foothill Freeway, I could see the trail zig zagging up the mountain to the pointed peak towering over Sierra Madre. So on April 15, 1995, my son and I climbed the 3.3 miles to the top of 3375-foot Jones Peak. Ten days later I bought John Robinson’s Trail of the Angeles and so started my love for hiking in the San Gabriels. As I start my twentieth year of hiking the Angeles, it’s fitting to revisit Jones Peak. And I can add Hastings Peak to it and be able to check off another summit from the Sierra Club Lower Peaks list to end the year. The hike is about 9 miles round trip with 3,000 feet in elevation gain.
I leave the house at 11:20, which is unusually late for me to go hiking. But the morning was cold and I was having a hard time motivating myself to get going. I navigate my way to Bailey Canyon Park in Sierra Madre. There are about 10 cars in the parking lot. The air is brisk but I figure I’ll be fine in my t-shirt once I get going.
Bailey Canyon Falls.
Soon views begin to open up of the San Gabriel Valley and beyond. Haze mutes the horizon. To the north up canyon, Hastings Peak stands regally inviting me to climb it. I love the aroma of the chaparral. Lots of switchbacks keep me walking in all directions. Trail volunteers have been busy building steps and retaining fences. The warm sun feels good. As always on this trail, I encounter other hikers coming and going, but it doesn’t feel crowded.
I’m really enjoying the beauty of the canyon. A blimp floats above Pasadena. Being December 31, it does not escape me that thousands of Rose Parade viewers are heading to Pasadena to find their spots along Colorado Boulevard. I’ve done that many times with family and friends over the years. But tonight I’ll enjoy a warm bed and tomorrow I’ll watch the parade on TV while blogging about my hiking adventures.
It reads, “George’s Cabin” and I’m amused by the story. I’ll let you hike here to read it for yourself. Another man arrives to check out the foundations. Strangely, he is not familiar with the well-known story alluded to on the plaque and the spoof is lost to him.
As the trail bends around the backside of Jones Peak, I encounter a small patch of snow in the cold shade (yes, it’s winter in SoCal!).
2:10 - Jones saddle, nearly 3.3 miles from the start. I now have a view east toward snow-covered Ontario Peak. It’s cold in the shade and I’m eager to climb the steep pitch south to the summit and warm sunshine. Gosh, this is steep.
Jonas leaves the peak heading south down firebreak.
As I’m snapping pictures, the wind kicks up and I’m amazed how quickly the weather goes from comfortable to frigid. Man it’s cold! I’m first impulse is to hightail it down the mountain and skip Hastings Peak. I leave the summit at 2:44 and arrive at the saddle in four minutes. Amazingly, it’s not cold anymore! I quickly get a change of heart and decided to continue. After a sandwich and putting on my gloves, I proceed north climbing the steep trail. The warm sun feels good and there is little wind.
I continue west along the undulating ridge enjoying the views and feeling excitement about bagging a listed peak to end the year. I also contemplate the reality that it will be dark before I complete this hike…oh no, I just remembered that Bailey Canyon Park closes at sunset…will my car be locked in?! Dang! Oh well, I guess I’ll face that situation later. For now, I continue to the peak. At 3:25 I reach the base of the final pitch to the summit. It’s quite steep now. I encounter more small patches of snow.
The San Gabriel Valley sprawls out in the southern panorama, muted by haze. The survey maker indicates that it was placed in 1940. I’d love to sit up here for an hour in more clear weather on a warmer day just soaking in the views. But it’s cold and getting dark soon so my visit is brief. I leave the peak at 3:46.
The city beyond the v-shaped canyon is turning into a blanket of twinkling lights. I try to call the Sierra Madre PD to let them know my car is in the parking lot at Bailey Canyon Park and to see if I can keep it from getting locked in, but I’m not getting reception.
Epilog - What an enjoyable hike to end the year! Superb trail, rich chaparral, freshness after the rain, warm sun, blue sky, splendid views, a familiar peak and new peak, and great exercise. What a blessing to live next to such amazing mountain range and be able to hike.
See Jones Peak Hike Description at Dan's Hiking Pages
See Plants in Bailey and Rubio Canyons, Dan's Hiking Blog
- March 27, 2011
Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Monday, December 29, 2014
Joshua Tree National Park encompasses more than 800,000 acres and straddles the boundary between the Mojave and Sonoran deserts in Southern California. The park consists of six mountain ranges with ten peaks higher the 5,000 feet. Its surreal landscape with towering rock formations, jumbles of boulders, and gangly Joshua Trees, has been described as Seussian, resembling the fanciful illustrations of children’s author Dr. Seuss. JPNP is located about 120 miles east of Los Angeles and about 12 northeast of Palm Springs. Interstate 10 runs along the southern boundary, Highway 62 borders the west and north, and Highway 77 borders the east.
On Hwy 62 (29 Palms Hwy), I drive west from Twentynine Palms a few minutes to Canyon Road (1.75 miles east of Indian Cove Road). It’s easy to miss but the small animal hospital on the corner helps as a landmark. I turn left (south) and drive through open desert 1.7 miles to the trailhead at the base of the mountains. There are about 10 cars in the paved parking lot. Trailhead amenities include informational signage, a pit toilet, and a split-rail fence creating a funnel into the trail. I’m eager to hike.
A solo hiker passes me…my first encounter for the hike. I snap pics of a few plants for further investigation. A party of three passes me climbing out. Soon I emerge to my first full view of the oasis below, nestled in morning shade.
Park guests are coming and going. As one who prefers destinations of peaks and waterfalls, my attention is drawn to the rocky crags high above as I ponder their climbablity. And throughout the hike I’ve pondered if there is a reasonable alternate route to get here coming up the canyon. From my observations on the ground and in studying the topo map and Google Earth, it looks like a route is possible starting near Encelia Road behind Stater Bros. It certainly would not be a hike that the Park Service would promote to tourists, but as an adventurer, I am lured to it.
10:56 - I reach the next hip before my final descent and take a short side jaunt to a craggy outcropping. It provides an ideal perch to capture the sweeping panorama to the north.
A pyramid-shaped peak near the trailhead far below calls me to climb it...on another day. My descent is entirely in the sun now and I enjoy the fascinating tan scenery.
Epilog - What a pleasant outing for my first hike in Joshua Tree National Park. The cool weather was most agreeable. Warm sun, amazing landscape, sweeping panoramas, splendid trail, intriguing plants, interesting destination. This short 3-mile round-trip hike with 660 feet in total elevation gain was an ideal introduction to hiking in this amazing desert place. I am eager to return for my next adventure in JTNP.
|Be Prepared and Aware|
See Joshua Tree hikes at Dan's Hiking Pages
NEXT > Joshua Tree - Ryan Mountain - January 3, 2015