Sunday, May 3, 2015

Colby Trail Hike - May 3, 2015

View south from the upper reaches of Colby Trail in Glendora
After nearly 16 months of closure, Colby Trail in Glendora is finally open. The trail was closed due to damage from the January 16, 2014 Colby Fire. An illegal campfire irrupted into a wildfire and destroyed more than 1,700 hundred acres of mountainside above Glendora and Azusa. Over the past year I periodically contacted the Glendora Community Conservancy to see when the trail would be reopened, and various issues have kept it closed. The county has been a main cause for the closure due to issues with the nearby flood control area.

Colby Trail trailhead in Glendora
So on this late Sunday afternoon I decide I need to do a little walking and end up driving over to nearby Glendora to take a stroll on Colby Trail. When I last checked, two weeks ago, it was still closed. But I’ve been given permission to walk the trail as part of the Trail Watch Program, which provides eyes and ears to help monitor and report on trial conditions, such as safety issues, needed repairs, misuse, abuse, etc. When I arrive at the trailhead I am pleasantly surprised to find the closure signs gone.

Walking north in the lower section of Colby Trail in Glendora
5:10 PM - Begin hike. The lower portion of this riparian (streamside) setting was spared from the fire and I enjoy the mature oaks and woodsy beauty. My pace is strong for workout value. There is not a lot in bloom: mustard, thistle, morning glory, phacelia, sunflower, elderberry, a lone stalk of lupine. Poison oak is abundant and some of its leaves are already starting to turn red.

View northeast from the brodiaea reserve on Colby Trail in Glendora
At the junction I take a side jaunt to the brodiaea reserve and am pleased to find at least some of rare thread-leaved brodiaea (Brodiaea filifolia) in bloom. The rare thread-leaved brodiaea (Brodiaea filifolia) in bloom in the brodiaea reserve on Colby Trail, Glendora The smattering of small purple flowers is lost in a sea of amber grass. Back on the main trail I continue to climb. The fire damage has been softened over the year. Our drought makes the surrounding hillsides with its dead grass feel more like mid-summer than mid-spring. The temperature is quite pleasant and the warm sun feels good. Views open up over Glendora and haze mutes the horizon. I’m disappointed to see graffiti on rocks and signs. I encounter only one party en route, a group of several young men.

5:37 - Glendora Mountain Road (0.71 mile from the start). I walk over to the berm to get the money shot of the southern panorama.

View southeast from Glendora Mountain Road at the top Colby Trail in Glendora

Leave GMR at 5:40. One minute down the trail delivers me to the junction and I head east on Colby-Dalton Trail.

The woodsy charm of Colby-Dalton Trail, Little Dalton Canyon, Glendora
This section was not burned and majestic oaks provide a thick canopy, and lush plants provide a green understory. This is such a contrast from the barren slopes on my ascent. Add to the blooming plant list bush monkeyflower and heart-leaved penstemon. My pace is guarded as some sections of the trail are pretty steep with slippery surface posing a risk of butt injury. I enjoy the woodsy setting as I negotiate the 14 switchbacks.

View north from Children’s Forest near Colby Trail in Glendora
Near the bottom of Little Dalton Canyon the trail curves south and soon I’m climbing the paved service road west. It’s nice to reemerge into the sun. Glendora sprawls to the south. I transition onto the berm trail and a couple minutes later arrive at the junction to the Children’s Forest. When I was here a year ago March, this place was buzzing with activity as numerous volunteers planted trees. I stroll south into the fledgling forest and am delighted to see so many of the young trees still alive and thriving. With the continued stewardship of the Glendora Conservancy and environmentally conscientious trial users, this foothills plateau promises to be a splendid oak forest for future generations.

Back on the trail, I leave the late afternoon sun and descend into the riparian sanctuary. I greet familiar plants by name as I think about the times I’ve led nature walks here.

Matilija poppy in bloom at the trailhead for Colby Trail on Loraine Avenue in Glendora
6:35 - End hike. I stop to admire the healthy stand of blooming matilija poppies adorning the trailhead landscape.

Epilog - A very pleasant outing. I’m so glad the trail is finally open. It really does provide a nice walking venue for local folks. And it’s always special to experience blooming Brodiaea filifolia. icon

See Colby Trail hike description at Dan's Hiking Pages

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