Carrizo Plain National Monument

Carrizo Plan National Monument is 151 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

Two popular destinations in southern California during the wildflower season (March-April) are Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve. Pictures from there are breathtaking but they don’t allow dogs on the trails. And you know how I feel about hiking without Xena.

On the other hand, I heard Carrizo Plain National Monument is super dog friendly. So I took a day trip to the monument with my friend Jen last weekend of March hoping to catch some beautiful scenes. In spite of the long drive (180 miles from my house), the trip was totally worth it. We had a wonderful day exploring and enjoyed the wildflowers. We missed the super bloom by one week but it was still beautiful and amazing!

Soda Lake Boardwalk and Overlook Hill

Soda Lake is the largest remaining natural alkali wetland in southern California and the only closed basin within the coastal mountains.

wp-1494264773527.

DCIM100GOPROG0010072.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0063.JPG

carrizo_plain-5

carrizo_plain-7

 

Interesting Facts about the Carrizo Plain

The Carrizo Plain National Monument owes its existence to the geologic processes that occur along the San Andreas Fault, where two of the Earth’s five great tectonic plates slide past one another, parallel to the axis of the Plain.

The dry climate of the area produces low erosion rates, thereby preserving the spectacular effects of fault slip, folding, and warping.

 

Jen was off work next day so she planned an overnight camping with her two dogs. We drove to the Goodwin Education Center to inquire about the campgrounds. There are two campgrounds in the park:  Selby and KCL. Both are free and first come first serve. Luckily we were there on Sunday so Jen expected the weekend campers would be leaving soon. I insisted that we get her a campsite anyway before we do more adventuring. I would feel better if she didn’t have to look for it on her own later. It was her first time camping with her 3-year old pups and all.

Selby campground is at the end of Selby Road 5 miles from Soda Lake Road. Off-road driving was fun in my Subaru. While my friend’s Toyota truck was sliding left and right in front of us, my little Crosstrek did great! As we hoped, we passed by lots of weekender on Selby Road leaving from the campground. Jen picked a campsite she liked and I helped her set up the camp. Then we had lunch and talked about other future road trips we want to go on.

After our peaceful lunch break, we got back in our cars and went for more exploring.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0129.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0090.JPG

Water break

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0088.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0123.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0137.JPG

Jack, Xena and River ….and yes, River is a big boy 🙂 and he is a teddy bear

I have some videos on Facebook too. Click here and here.

Right after saying bye to Jen and the pups, I spotted a herd of Pronghorn Antelope on the field. I stopped the car and watched them roaming freely. I just loved how peaceful and untouched this place was. But still, I think one of my favorite part of the day was driving on route 58 in Kern County. It was so beautiful! I had to pull over and capture it. Click here for video.

Good to Know:

  • Adventure date:  3.26.17
  • Most part, you will drive on a dirt road.
  • No entrance fee
  • As long as your dogs are under your control, leash rule is not enforced
  • Carrizo Plain Recreation Map Guide

Never stop exploring!  Xo

Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada

Valley of Fire State Park is 55 miles northeast of Las Vegas off Interstate 15.

Unlike the day before, I took my time in the morning. I even ordered a room service. I wasn’t going to be having a real meal until dinner so I savored it.

wp-1492105987206.

The bacon stare

Valley of Fire Hwy was peaceful. Make sure you have plenty of gas before getting on this highway though. As soon as we entered in to the park, I knew I wasn’t going to be disappointed even with my high expectation. I drove to the visitor center to use the restroom and to finalize the plan for the day.

When I walked out of the restroom, there was a crowd gathered east of the visitor center. A herd of bighorn sheep was slowly migrating! They were beautiful. I got Xena out of the car, put the leash on and grabbed the camera as fast as I could and walked over to that side. Of course, Xena wanted to stop and sniff and pee after being in the car for an hour. By the time we made to that side, the herd had moved on and they were too far for me to get a good photo for you guys.

One man got unnecessarily close to the animals. I understand he wants a great photo but what if someone did that to you and your family? The herd blended in so well with the background. They are in the center of the photo. Hopefully, you can see them.

wp-1492571304568.

I decided to check out the trails on Mouse’s Tank Rd first then see. But first, we explored the interesting rock formations surrounding the visitor center and took some fun pictures.

From the visitor center, I took Mouse’s Tank Rd then began our adventure.

I did not expect the trails to be that much different from each other since they are on the same side of the park. I figured we would check out a couple of them then move on to another part of the park. Well, we spent all day on this one road and we had a blast!! All these hikes are easy to follow and short in distance (less than 2 miles).

First Hike:  Petroglyph Canyon Trail (a.k.a. Mouse’s Tank Trail)

  • Out and back
  • Terrain:  Sandy
  • Big picnic area with additional parking across from the trailhead
  • Difficulty:  Easy (kid-friendly)

We shared the trail with a senior hiking tour group. I guessed they were in their 70s and older. So awesome! They had a guide who explained the history of the place and pointed out petroglyphs along the trail.

Valley of Fire State Park contains ancient, petrified trees and petroglyphs dating back to 2,500 years. It really is a geologic wonderland! If you love geology and natural history like me, you would love Valley of Fire!

 

Next Hike:  Rainbow Vista & Fire Canyon Lookout

  • Out and back
  • Terrain:  Sandy/rocky
  • Difficulty:  Moderate
  • Rainbow Vista:  A panoramic view of multi-colored sandstone.

Although it’s a short hike and mostly flat, I rated this hike moderate just because of the last bit of steep climbing to the Rainbow Vista. Like the name, Rainbow Vista was very colorful. According to the sign, we were looking at 150 million years of time since the dinosaurs walked on earth. This untouched colorful wilderness was an amazing view to take in.

wp-1492556072979.

wp-1492574714338.

Fire Canyon Lookout trail requires a bit of scrambling and rock climbing but it’s very doable. We climbed up to one of the rocks with a great view point and had a lunch break.

valley_of_fire-15

20170220_121630

Click here for video

 

Next Hike:  Fire Wave

  • Out and back
  • Terrain:  Dirt/sandy/rock
  • Difficulty:  Easy (kid-friendly)

Fire Wave is a must see when you visit. When you google “Valley of Fire images”, most of the pictures you see are from here. There is no steep incline or decline to mention. Just watch your steps as the rocks can be slippery with loose sand. Take your time and enjoy the stunning view.

Click here for video

 

Final Hike:  White Dome

  • Loop
  • Terrain:  Sandy/dirt/rocky
  • Difficulty:  Moderate
  • There is a small picnic area with benches near the parking lot.

This is the last stop on Mouse Tank Road and I think it was my favorite. The sandy trail began at the end of the cul de sac with a short ascent. The ascent of the hill was rewarded by an extensive view of what was ahead. Many people, who were not comfortable with hiking, enjoyed the views from here and turned around. We hiked down to the canyon.

wp-1492574169887.

Looking back up

wp-1492559593275.

wp-1492574635486.

wp-1492574559079.

Click here for video

 

Valley of Fire was what I expected and more!!! Not only bright red Aztec sandstone nestled in gray and tan limestone mountains is eye catching but it’s from the Jurassic period. How cool is that! I was sad that I only had one day to explore. These photos don’t do it justice so head over to our Facebook Page for more videos!

Good to Know:

  • Hike date:  2.20.17
  • Daily-use fee:  $10/vehicle for non-Nevada residents
  • There are two campgrounds and all campsites are first come, first served with fee
  • Pets are not allowed in the visitor center

Never Stop Exploring

wp-1492576138886.

Whatever Wednesday: Road Trip

I don’t normal blog two days in a row but Whatever Wednesday sneaked up on me this week. We recently took a road trip to Nevada and wanted to share a few photos from the road with you guys.

wp-1488423349496.jpg

Xena was not happy about being demoted to the cargo for the picture. HAHA

wp-1488423313414.jpg

wp-1488423405621.jpg

I can’t wait to share our trail adventures from Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and Valley of Fire State Park. Both parks allowed dogs on the hiking trails. All parks should allow dogs on the trails if you ask me.

Head over to our Facebook page for videos from the trip!

Xoxo~

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.

san_gabriel_peak

wp-1488039456249.jpg

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.

san_gabriel_peak_8

san_gabriel_peak

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

wp-1488038575079.jpg

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

 

wp-1488039720355.jpg

Happy Hiking!

Josephine Peak

Park directly across from the Clear Creek Information Center. The trailhead is off Angeles Forest Hwy, a short walk from the parking lot. A gated fire road will appear on your right. The trail starts behind that gate. There are no signs after the trailhead but the trail is well-maintained and you won’t have a problem getting to the peak as long as you stay on the fire road. The city below was covered with rain clouds which looked like about to open up but when we arrived at the trail, we had blue sky and sunshine. Although it’s never too steep, you will break a sweat to get to the peak.

wp-1487196787335.jpgSoon I felt the tranquility you only get to feel in the nature. I was enchanted by the views of nearby peaks and the layers of San Gabriel Mountains. Unlike other nearby peaks in the front range like San Gabriel Peak, Mt Lowe and Mt Disappointment, there were no towers and antennas to make you feel like you never left the city. Ok, not until at the peak but even then, it’s not bad.

wp-1487261467044.jpg

wp-1487261616489.jpg

The prominent peak located on the northeast of Josephine Peak is Strawberry Peak at 6,165 ft. It did not leave our sight throughout the trek.

wp-1487260957666.jpg

wp-1487260983416.jpg

At the summit

wp-1487348752661.jpg

wp-1487309182161.jpg

wp-1487204736910.jpg

I know many hikers are down on fire roads. But I think this is one of LA’s best kept secret trail and I hope that people are continued to be uninterested to go here so I can have it all to ourselves. 🙂 We like it so much that we went back with our friends Kristine and her pup Trooper on Xena’s birthday. It was foggy and cold but we had a blast!

wp-1487260406208.jpg

Photo credit:  @TrooperandMoe

wp-1487310047057.jpg

Nice catch, Trooper!

As about 2/3 of the trail faces south, snow melts fast and the trail is usually snow free. And the north facing part of the trail near the top didn’t have enough snow to use microspikes. But since the condition could quickly change in the mountains, I recommend you have microspikes with you when you hike during winter and definitely have layers of moisture-wicking clothes. Based on my experience, it gets windy and cold at the peak. Hot soy latte tasted especially good at the peak. 😉

To get back to the trailhead, go down the way you came up. As always, please leave no trace.

Good to Know:

  • Hike date:  11.20.16 & 1.2.17
  • Distance:  8.4 miles RT, out and back
  • Elevation gain:  1,833 ft
  • Josephine Peak elevation:  5,558 ft
  • Difficulty rating:  Moderate
  • Trailhead:  34.271097, -118.153699
  • Adventure Pass required for parking
  • Almost no shade. Great for Spring, Fall and Winter.
  • Toilet available at Clear Creek Information Center

 

wp-1487260213172.jpg

Photo credit:  @TrooperandMoe

Happy Hiking!