This photograph was taken October 23, 2005, on one of my favorite loops in the San Gabriel Mountains. This adventurous route starts at Islip Saddle, follows the South Fork trail down to South Fork Campground, then takes the Manzanita Trail up to Vincent Gap and the Pacific Crest Trail. From here, the PCT is followed up, and with a slight detour, over Mt. Baden-Powell, and then along the crest of the San Gabriels back to Islip Saddle. It’s a very wild and scenic 23 mile run that covers a wide range of elevations. South Fork Campground is at 4,560 ft., and the summit of Baden-Powell is at 9399 ft. Total elevation gain and loss on the run is well over 5000 ft.
This year, it might make more sense to start this loop at Vincent Gap. In order to protect critical habitat of the mountain yellow-legged frog, the Forest Service has closed 1,000 acres in the upper Little Rock Creek drainage, including Williamson Rock, and the PCT between Eagle’s Roost and the Burkhart Trail. In addition, Angeles Crest Highway (SR2) is now closed at Cedar Springs, just west of Eagles Roost.
Update May 21, 2009. Angeles Crest Highway (SR2) has since been re-opened to Islip Saddle, and through to Wrightwood.
For more information regarding the closure of Williamson Rock and the related PCT Detour see the Angeles National Forest web site and Re-Open Williamson Rock on the Access Fund web site.
The post Wally Waldron Limber Pine includes links to a Google Earth image and Google Earth KMZ file of this route.
PLEASE NOTE: The condition of certain sections of the Manzanita and South Fork trails is marginal, and rock slides and washouts may block the trail.
Tarantula Hawks are among the largest of wasps, and are said to have one of the most painful stings of any insect. As chilling as any science fiction, female tarantula hawks hunt, attack and paralyze a tarantula, and then use the spider’s inert — but still living — body as a host for the wasp’s egg and developing larva.
Males have straight antennae, and females curled antennae. This may be because the long, showy antennae of the male would be a serious liability when battling a tarantula. The title photo is of a male on a narrow-leaf milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis) at the start of the Chumash Trail in Simi Valley. Here’s another photo, taken in Las Llajas canyon by runner Lynn Longan, in which a female tarantula hawk has just attacked and paralyzed a tarantula.
Several good runs start at the Chumash trailhead, and many variations are possible. It’s 2.6 miles up the trail to Rocky Peak Rd, and from there you can do out and backs north or south along the fire road, or loops via Las Llajas canyon, the Hummingbird Trail, or the Lower Stagecoach Trail. (Photo from a run on September 14, 2005.)
Related post: Sting of the Tarantula Hawk, Chumash Trail Training
Ferns along the Garapito Trail, Topanga State Park.
Chaparral has been described as an elfin forest, and there is probably no better trail in the Santa Monica Mountains to see why, than the Garapito Trail. From the fire road near Eagle Rock, the trail seemingly dives into a tunnel of chaparral, and doesn’t emerge until it ends at Temescal Fire Road, some 2.5 miles away.
This day I ran a 12 mile figure-eight course from the end of Reseda to Trippet Ranch via the Hub, and then returned via the Musch, Garapito, and Bent Arrow trails. Fire roads out– trails back. A shorter option goes directly to the Garapito Trail via the Hub, and then returns via the Bent Arrow trail. This is about 7.5 miles. A longer option tacks on an out and back to Parker Mesa at Trippet Ranch.