Thursday, January 12, 2012

LOWER ARROYO SECO: GOULD MESA CAMPGROUND & NINO PICNIC AREA (San Gabriel Mtns., Angeles National Forest, Los Angeles County, CA)

Over the years, we've hiked the portion of the Gabrielino Trail that runs from the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) area to Oakwilde many, many times. Never camped along the way before, but makes for an easy day hike into the Lower Arroyo Seco of the San Gabriel Mountains. You're basically traversing a canyon, often creekside, shaded by oaks, alders & sycamores, so not a ton of elevation gain, but still a good, brisk hike. 

The trail is very popular with hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians, so be prepared for company, especially on the weekends. The area is also rife with historical structural remnants, as it was a popular vacation/resort destination at the turn of the 20th century. A devastating flood in 1938 destroyed the roads and cabins, and pretty much wiped out Oakwilde, which I'll post about (our haunted hike) another time.

The trek to Gould Mesa Campground is fairly leisurely, and you'll pass by a couple shaded picnic areas (Teddy's Outpost and Nino) along the way.

As a sad postscript, the horrendous 2009 Station Fire damaged significant areas of the Angeles National Forest, and I believe that the Lower Arroyo Seco was not spared. Do check in with the local ranger district on trail conditions before heading out. 

5/4/96 Gil, Carrette & Elaine. Nino Picnic Area.

5/4/96 Carrette, me & Gil. Nino Picnic Area.

4/19/98 Chuck & Rusty. 

4/19/98 Gil, streamside.

4/19/98 Gould Mesa trail camp.

4/19/98 Me & EE, just past the Nino picnic area.

4/19/98 With Rusty. He was such a sweet, sweet dog (not all pits are created equal).

4/19/98 Rock slide from the heavy rains we had in '98 from El Nino. Chuck messing with Rusty by playing dead (lower left). Hard to do when you have a spazzy dog licking your face...


Elevation: Gould Mesa trail camp is at 1,500 ft.

Management: U.S. Forest Service

Directions: From the 210 Fwy. in La Canada, exit Windsor Ave./Arroyo Blvd. Drive north on Windsor about 3/4 of a mile, where it will veer sharply to the right and become Ventura St. Just before the bend, turn left into a parking area near the trailhead. The trail is popular, especially on weekends, so come early or you'll have a hard time finding a parking spot.

Pets: Fido is welcome on the trail. Trail is also ok for equestrian use.

Fees: None.

Camping: Gould Mesa is a hike-in trail camp with 5 spaces. The hike from the JPL trailhead is about 2 miles in. There are 3 hitching rails for horses and a vault toilet. No potable water except for stream water, which must be treated before using. First come, first serve only - no reservations. Call (818)899-1900 for more info.

Trail: From the parking area, look for the sign for the Gabrielino Trail at a gated road just up ahead. It's gated to prevent vehicle entry only (there are a few private residences just past the gate). Go around/past the gate, to access the trail. 


Contact Info:
Angeles National Forest: 701 N. Santa Anita Ave., Arcadia, CA 91006, Tel (626)574-1613.

Arroyo Seco Ranger District: Tel (626)790-1157.

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