Week 182: Monrovia Canyon Park

August 04, 2019

Day Hiking Los Angeles, #89, Monrovia Canyon Falls, 3.67 miles

Only in Los Angeles could Barbara and I set out at 8am on a Sunday morning to hike to a remote waterfall in Angeles National Forest...and find a photo shoot in progress at our destination. Didn't matter. Our hike in Monrovia Canyon Park was glorious from start to finish—narrow dirt trails and switchbacks shaded by a canopy of native oaks; babbling brooks to hop over; boulders as a pathway over a stream; and the payoff—the 30-foot, year-round waterfall fed by springs high in the San Gabriel Mountains. Thank the men of the 1932 Civilian Conservation Corps, who, during the Great Depression, lived in a camp at the mouth of Monrovia Canyon and did most of the labor on the steps, trails, fences, and fire roads that made today's hike a pleasure to navigate. In 1964, check dams were added by the LA County Flood Control District. Sure, parts of the trail were narrow (3-feet!) with steep drops on one side and granite walls on the other, and other sections were covered with rocks and boulders—but there was never a dull or boring moment. We started up from the trailhead for the Bill Cull Trail and hiked into the mountain. In the distance, the 1927 Sawpit Canyon Dam, a 147-foot-tall monster discovered to be too weak to hold water. Oops. Engineers in 2000, cut a notch in the dam and created an artificial waterfall. A mile-and-a-half(ish) ahead on the Nature Trail, we arrived at Mother Nature's version of the real thing—the Monrovia Canyon Falls. Lovely and peaceful, (aside from the crowd of photographers, models, and crew) mountain water flowing down through boulders to feed the stream. On the way back, we followed an alternate route to the Nature Center with its dioramas of local wildlife (Monrovia Canyon is a Bear Habitat) and cases of live snakes and tarantulas. Better to meet them in dioramas and glass cases than on the trail. Barbara and I both loved Monrovia Canyon Park, a cool escape from city heat, and the trails a challenging treat. Get there early for parking. This awesome hike is no secret.

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