Week 204: Devil's Gate Pasadena

March 22, 2020

L.A. Walks: Skip the Rose Bowl Loop and Take This Woodsy Path Instead, 2.1 miles

Safer at home, saner after a nature hike—still an approved activity. Thanks to Charles Fleming's December 20, 2019 post in the L.A. Times, Barbara and I avoided the usual hiking hot spots and took this charming (with a touch of weird) hike to one of L.A. County's occult magnets. The trail, heading north, begins at the intersection of Washington Boulevard and West Drive in Pasadena and parallels the West side of the Brookside Golf Course. A delightful stroll under oaks and pepper trees, with geese and parrots yakking as they flew overhead, the golf course was green as spring and empty. The path so very quiet you could hear the bees. Past the golf course, the trail took us to the "brook" of Brookside, a rocky stream we hopped over twice, balancing on rocks and log crossings with dry-shoe-success. Passing beneath the towering arches of the 210 freeway overpass, we hiked the sandy banks of the brook to Devil's Gate, our notorious destination. The rock formation, named for its profile of Satan, carries a sinister spiritual reputation. The Tongvas claimed the laughing sound of the rapids passing through the gorge came from the coyote spirit. In the 1940s, occultists like Aleister Crowley were convinced the gorge was one of the seven portals of hell. Contemporary graffiti artists use the rocks as a canvas. Barbara and I had no interest in discerning Satan's profile that gave the formation its name—life is weird enough right now without seeking out spooks—but we did stop to take in the rocks and cave entrance leading to the Devil's Gate Dam upstream, part of the Arroyo Seco flood control scheme. We crossed the brook again to follow a path that led us to the trail bordering the East side of the golf course and back to the car. Social distancing was no problem at all. At best, we met ten hikers/dog walkers on the entire trail. This hike is an excellent alternative to the stream of joggers circling the Rose Bowl. Just the distraction, fresh air, and challenge we needed to refuel our spirits. Be safe, be well, and be kind, everyone.

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