San Gabriel Peak via Eaton Saddle

There are two locations where you can start this hike. One is from the trailhead near the Red Box Picnic Area (Bill Riley Trailhead) and the other is from Eaton Saddle. Well, I thought I started from the Bill Riley Trailhead.. because that’s what I planned on doing when I left the house that morning. So you can imagine my surprise when I found myself on a different location on the map when I checked the GPS in the middle of my trek. Whaaat?! Haha! In hindsight, I am glad it happened.

I raced against a group of mountain bikers at the parking lot to get ready. I guessed there were about 30 of them. I didn’t want to get stuck in the middle of the group. The hike began on Mt Lowe fire road. It was a clear sunny day so I was able to see the nearby cities (Altadena and Sierra Madre) to the south. First part of the Mt Lowe Rd is an rocky uphill. At 0.31 miles, we arrived at Mueller Tunnel.



The rocky fire road continued at the end of the tunnel. At the 0.78 mile marker, you will come to a junction. Take the San Gabriel Peak trail is on your right next to the water tank.

San Gabriel Peak trail is exposed all the way to the peak but early in the morning, some parts were shaded. A little bit of scrambling is required at certain sections and some parts of the trail were very narrow but it’s doable. Just watch your step.



When we got close to the top, the north-facing side of the trail was icy.


The short hill from the bottom of the peak to the top (maybe 0.1 mile) was covered with thick ice. Many people were turning around when we got there. It was too slippery to climb at that point without spikes. I brought mine with me just in case but never tried them. Woohoo! I get to put my microspikes to the test. They better work! I put them on over my boots with a bit of effort (at least I knew they wouldn’t come off while walking) but overall it was quick and easy. I took my first step on the ice, the same spot I slid earlier without the spikes. OMG. I instantly fell in love with my spikes! Haha! I quickly learned to dig in to the ice when I walk so the spikes can have a better grip of the surface. Going up to the peak was piece of cake after that. Since most people turned around at the bottom of the peak, we found the summit empty which I enjoyed very much.

To return to the trailhead, go back the way you came up.

Good to Know:

  • Hike date:  12.4.16
  • Distance (RT):  3.5 miles, out and back
  • Elevation gain:  1,209 ft
  • Difficulty rating:  Moderate-Challenging
  • San Gabriel Peak elevation:  6,161 ft
  • Trailhead:  34.239379, -118.093359
  • Adventure Pass required for parking
  • Toilet available at Red Box Picnic Area



Happy Hiking!

Bright and Early at Big Horn Mine

The Big Horn Mine near Wrightwood has been closed off for a long time but in early 1900s it used to be a profitable gold mine. Now this abandoned mine is a popular hiking destination for SoCal hikers.

I planned to meet up with Katherine (@robinventures) super early at the trailhead because we wanted to see the sunrise as we drove up the mountain. The sunrise was stunning that morning as we hoped. I had to pull over to take some photos.


We hoped to run in to each other on the way but that didn’t happen. We met up at the Vincent Gap trailhead as planned. We were shocked to see a big group already getting ready in the parking lot. We began the hike following the sign for Mine Gulch.


When you see the sign below, stay on the Big Horn Mine road on the right.


We think the big group was hiking the Mt Baden-Powell (on my next year’s wishlist) because we never ran in to them again. We pretty much had the Big Horn Mine fire road to ourselves. The fire road started out wide but it became narrow at times and the terrain changed to very rocky.


After two miles, we reached the ruins of the old mine building. You can even explore the mine if you feel adventurous. I opted out though.


We set up our hammocks and two pups hung out with me. It was raining lightly on and off and the wind picked up but these two kept me warm while Katherine was walking around and being busy as usual.


Photo credit: @robinventures

The view of San Gabriel Mountains was stunning along the trail but it was especially spectacular from the mine. I am looking forward to going back next year and summit Mt Baden-Powell (9,407 ft/2,867 m) with my favorite trail buddy.


Photo credit: @robinventures

Good to Know:

  • Hike date:  10.23.16
  • Total distance:  4 miles
  • Elevation gain:  650 ft
  • Trailhead:  Vincent Gap parking lot (34.373351, -117.752030)
  • National Forest Adventure Pass required for parking
  • Restroom available at the trailhead



Photo credit: @robinventures

Happy Hiking and Happy New Year!

Hammocking at Pine Knot

I love fall colors but unfortunately fall colors don’t come to L.A. so I had to go find it. Early October, we drove up to Big Bear Lake for an overnight trip with my sister. BBL is one of my favorite places to visit with Xena. There are plenty of dog-friendly trails for us to explore and the town itself is pet-friendly. At an altitude of 7,000 feet, the air is crisp and refreshing this time of the year. It makes a perfect fall getaway!

pineknot_1It took us little over 2 hours to get there and arrived around lunch time as planned. We drove to Blanca and Pierre’s to pick up some sandwiches to go. They have pet-friendly outdoor seating but our plan was to have lunch on the mountain. Well…we forgot that service is generally slow in BBL like any other vacation-y places. This is actually a good thing for me because it forces me to slow down as soon as I get there. Our supposedly 10-min stop actually took 40 minutes. By the time we got our food, we were starving. We decided to go to Aspen Glen Picnic Area and have lunch first.

The picnic area was spacious and it was right at the trailhead. Convenient. It was less than 1.5 miles from the restaurant. We were glad about the short drive because we both were getting hangry (hunger that turns in to anger, it is real). After we filled our stomachs to happiness, we began our hike. The trailhead was clearly marked as below and we could already see some fall colors from there.


The single track path was easy to follow and the incline was gradual.


I was absolutely delighted with the fall colors! This time of the year, I do miss the East Coast fall.. I could have liked to see more reds but I wasn’t going to complain.  🙂


As we gained elevation, the lake came in to our view.


So we began to look for a good spot to hang my hammock and found a perfect spot. Soon, Xena fell asleep on top of me and my sister with both of us gently petting her.


Xena cannot stay up any more when we hang out in the hammock. It is one of our favorite things to do together now. It is so relaxing, calming and almost meditative. All of us hung out in the hammock that afternoon, talking, napping, just hanging out until it was almost dinner time. It was a perfect fall hike, wouldn’t you say?


Good to Know:

  • Hike date:  10.1.16
  • Distance (RT):  4 miles (with an option to make it longer or shorter)
  • Elevation gain:  957 feet (max elevation: 7,717 ft)
  • Difficulty rating:  Moderate
  • Trailhead:  34.236322, -116.927192 (copy/paste to your GPS app)
  • Bathroom available at the trailhead
  • Parking:  Adventure Pass required for parking.  You can purchase a pass at the Big Bear Discovery Center.


What is your favorite thing about fall? 

Charmlee Wilderness in Malibu

The entrance to the park is clearly marked with a sign on Encinal Canyon Rd. Drive on Carmichael Rd until you see the parking on your right. Get an envelope from the stand (photo below), fill out your vehicle information, put the money ($4/car) in the envelope and insert it in the slot.  Now you are ready to explore the park.


After using the restroom (toilet w/ flush) located near the 2nd parking lot, we began our hike. Carmichael Trail was wide enough for two people to walk side and side comfortably.


We passed a large picnic area on the left with a bunch of tables. Xena was wearing her Ruffwear Swamp Cooler vest already at 7:30 am. It was July after all.


Overall, the trails in Charmlee Wilderness Park are well maintained but not all well marked.  But don’t worry.  Your cell phone will have signals if you want to check Google Map. Here is my route. As you can see, there are different ways to do this hike in a loop.


I did this loop clockwise. From Carmichael Trail, I turned left on to Russell Trail then another left at Potreo Trail. At this junction, I took this photo. Check out the marine layer fast approaching!


It got foggy really quick and I loved it! I couldn’t see where I was going but I didn’t care. The trail was pretty much flat so it wasn’t like we were going to fall off a cliff or anything.


On Potreo Trail (it’s the long straight line from my route), we found numerous interesting rock formations.


One thing that stood out to me was how much the birds were active in the park. If you love bird watching, this might be a good place to check out.


Then I saw a sign for Reservoir so we went to check it out but there was no water.


After that, we followed a sign for Clyde Canyon. Yes, we aimlessly just wandered that morning and enjoyed the nature. More cool rock formations!



We stayed on the rocks for a while and watched the birds. The marine layer covered the park like a soft blanket. When Xena got antsy, we got down from the rocks and continued on. Soon, the scenery changed to an open field.


She can be a goofball at times. 🙂


Then the scenery changed again.



I think no matter how you decide to do the loop, it will be around 3 miles. I found Charmlee Wilderness Park charming. It’s small but there is a lot to experience in the park. It’s definitely a family-friendly hike as well. Pack your lunch and enjoy your lunch at the picnic area after a little hike.

Good to Know:

  • Hike date:  7.10.16
  • Distance (RT):  3.1 miles
  • Elevation gain:  389 ft
  • Rating:  Easy
  • Restroom available at the trailhead
  • Parking:  $4/car, make sure to bring cash and a pen
  • Trailhead:  34.059108,-118.879238 (copy/paste to your GPS app)




Happy Hiking!

Millard Canyon Falls

It seemed like we were never going to make it there that morning. First the power went out right after I pulled out from the garage so I couldn’t close it. Then, the GPS took me to a dead end and wanted me to keep going! Everything was going against us. That is until we finally made it to the trailhead one hour+ later than I planned. Then everything was alright. This easy hike was fun and we enjoyed the waterfall at the end.

The parking area was tiny (only 8 spots) and it was already full. I parked on Chaney Trail instead and displayed my Adventure Pass over the rear-view mirror.


We walked by the parking area then through the fire road gate. Initially, it started out on a pavement


but soon – 0.12 miles from the trailhead – we reached the junction where the fire road meets Sunset Ridge Trail. You will see the sign below on your left. Go towards Millard CG and say goodbye to the pavement.



Some parts of the trail to the campground were covered with overgrown grass which made a nice setting for dreamy photos.



At about 0.9 miles, Sunset Ridge Trail met up with Brown Mountain Truck Trail and Millard Campground was on our right side. Go toward the campground.


After the bathroom facility, you will see the sign for Millard Falls on your right.


We crossed a little stream (I let Xena play for a little bit before we moved on) and


found lots of interesting rocks and broken off tree stems to climb on. We even found a dinosaur’s brain fossil!


Sometimes it’s advantageous to be short. And, no, she did not wait for me.


At 1.5 miles, we reached at Millard Falls. Isn’t it pretty?



Good to Know:

  • Hike date:  5.30.16
  • Distance (RT):  3 miles, out and back
  • Elevation gain:  284 ft
  • Parking permit:  Adventure Pass required
  • Trailhead:  34.214725, -118.147536 (copy/paste to your GPS app)

Happy Hiking!

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China Flat in Oak Park

Back to a local dog-friendly trail guide

It was Mother’s Day. I assumed most of the people would be busy with Mother’s Day brunch that morning. Great time for us to be on the trail! There are two trailheads. We began the hike from Lindero Canyon Rd. The trailhead was easy to spot and there was a plenty of street parking available.


It was quiet and peaceful. We had the trail to ourselves. I could only hear birds singing. It was a delightful morning.



The rocky terrain was fun to climb and the early morning’s gentle sunrays generated an inspiring and creative energy.



After 1.5 miles, the trail came to a split. The trail on the left leads to Simi Peak. It was clear that the trail to Simi Peak was not maintained. It was hiding under outgrown shrubs. I didn’t want to risk a snake bite so I turned us around and took the short rocky trail on the right to China Flat instead.




This was a quick fun hike with a rewarding view at the top. Be sure to check out the video I posted on Instagram.



Good To Know:

  • Hike date:  5.8.16
  • Trailhead: 34.193600, -118.775292 (copy/paste to your GPS app)
  • Distance (RT):  3.1 miles (5 km)
  • Elevation gain:  965 ft
  • Free street parking, no shade, no restroom

Happy Hiking!

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