Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Bear Canyon Hike (California)

This saturday, I participated in a very scenic hike in a group of 16 hikers. This was about 9 mile and mostly downhill hike. Using car pooling and splitting cars at start and end point, this hike was done as one-way. After parking our cars at Switzer’s Falls Starting Point (exit on 210 and drive approx 9 miles on Angeles Crest Hwy), we packed into few cars and moved up to the start point of the hike at Eton Saddle fire road gate (approx 6.5 Miles - keep going north on Angles Crest and take Mt. Wilson Red Box road at approx 4.1 miles and drive 2.4 miles on Mt Wilson Red Box road) to hike back down to Switzer’s Falls Starting Point car parking.
The hike started by going around south side of San Gabriel Peak (6,161') and entering Mueller Tunnel. Surrounded by number of nearby Peaks – Mt. Lowe (5,603'), Mt. Wilson (5,710') and Mt. Disappointment (5,960'), you keep moving on to the fire road to reach the Bear Canyon trail head. At the trail head you find a halipad which offer breathtaking view of greater Los Angeles. It was a clear day and we could see ocean and as far as Catalina Island (approx 60+ miles away!). Hiking through bear canyon you pass though number of water streams and pools with plenty of places to sit and relax. At this time of the year, the water level was low and you could do stream crossing without getting your feet wet. But, during rainy season, the hike is closed as the water level would make it impossible to cross the streams. After approx 3.2 miles, you reach Bear Canyon Campgound, where we stopped for lunch. Further around 2 miles of hiking along streamside, you reach 50 ft high Switzer’s falls. From Switzer Falls, around 2.2 miles and approx 600 ft of elevation you reach the Switzer lower parking area.
Don’t forget to take plenty of water and food. Good hiking shoes are must due to loose gravel, as there is real risk of slip and fall. We had one little accident wherein one hiker fell and got some bruises. But, the injuries were not bad, and he was able to finish the hike. Overall, the hike was easy as there are not much elevation gains, but it is still strenuous as it was long. I really enjoyed the spectacular canyon and plenty of scenic points all along.
Here is hike log (Dec 6, 08)
9:30 am       Start (Eaton Saddle – 5,120’)
10:30 am     Bear Canyon Trail Head
12:00 pm     Bear Canyon Camp (stopped for lunch – approx 40 mins)
1:45 pm       Switzer’s Falls
3:00 pm       Return – Switzer Falls Start Point – Lower parking lot

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