Saturday, January 23, 2016

Local Hikes: West Fork Trail San Gabriel Mountains Wheelchair Accessible

My family loves getting outdoors and getting exercise, that is no surprise.  What is a surprise is that it occurred to me that we hadn't been hiking in way too long.  I have been wanting to explore our local mountains and see what wonderful day hikes we have in our own back yard.

My husband had mentioned that his family used to visit Crystal Lake in Azusa and he thought our kids would enjoy it as well.  We checked the local website for weather conditions and road closures and made plans for Martin Luther King Day.  There was a forecast for snow and my kids were SO excited!  We made sure that we had the proper cold weather clothes and sleds and we were on our way.

As we drove to the Cogswell Dam on the 39, we saw a discerning sight.  A road construction sign said that Crystal Lake was closed(despite the website stating otherwise)!  We were disheartened to learn that we wouldn't be able to play in the snow that day.

We had driven an hour from Long Beach and we really didn't want to just head home.  We drove a little past the Cogswell Dam and saw a rest stop for the West Fork Day Use area.  We were intrigued.  Maybe we could get in a hike after all!

There are multiple "rest rooms" at this location for pit stops.  When I say "pit-stops",  I mean pit!  The bathrooms were not the cleanest and definitely stunk!  The toilets are sitting over a deep pit as most camp bathroom are wont to be.  However, they had toilet paper and I didn't have to squat so it was a small win.  Don't forget to bring hand-sanitizer!

A beautiful bridge brought us down to the main trail which to our surprise was an asphalted road.  This seemed odd to me but it occurred to me that do to this road, people in wheel chairs could easily enjoy the beautiful nature area as well as any other.  In fact there were 3-4 handicapped fishing platforms along the way.

The trails are marked with mile markers so you can decide what your level of hiking is.  We chose to do a 4 mile hike round trip because we were a little out of shape.  LOL If you area in shape and up for the challenge, the full hike is 12.5 miles in an easy very slight incline.

There were many people enjoying the area fishing, hiking, picnicing and nature watching.  We saw so many signs of life along the way.  Rainbow Trout were at least 14 inches long in some of the pools!  We saw berry bushes lining the trails and made me wonder when they would be ripe!  :-)

Animal tracks?  My son spotted deer tracks and scat while my husband pointed out (months old) bear scat and my daughter rabbit prints.

The area is truly beautiful! We found out later that were 3 waterfalls to explore but the area does not have a map to follow and we were limited on time.  At least we know for next time!

You can find out more information about this great nature area, here.

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