Arroyo Seco to Switzer Falls

April 16-19, 2001


On Monday, April 16, 2001 we left Pasadena from the west end of Altadena Drive, just above the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. We hiked up the Arroyo Seco past Gould Mesa to Oakwilde, where we camped for the night. A couple hours after we set up camp a group of about 30 kids from Pacific Nazarene School (?) in Pasadena arrived. They were a pleasant, polite, and well-behaved group.

On Tuesday we followed the trail up the Arroyo Seco, up Long Canyon, then down to Switzers Falls. We were here in May of last year and enjoyed a swim, but we were five weeks earlier this year and the water was too cold to enjoy. We camped in the canyon about a half mile downstream from the falls. There were very few hikers there during the day, and we have every reason to believe that we were the only campers in the canyon that night.

On Wednesday we hiked back to Oakwilde. This time we were the only ones camping there. We only saw two hikers this day.

Finally, on Thursday we hiked back to Gould Mesa, where we relaxed and ate lunch. We stayed there until 1:00 because we had arranged for a 2:00 pickup at JPL. At 1:00 we continued on to JPL and met our ride as planned. Total distance: about 20 miles.

Manuel Arias (age 9), Emma Qualls (age 11), and Bill Qualls (age 44)

Manuel, Bill, and Emma ready to go. In Pasadena at the west end of Altadena Drive.
This hike takes place in the Angeles National Forest.
I took Emma out of school for a week so she could join me on this hike. Here she speculates as to what her friends are doing in class.
Playing in the creek in the Arroyo Seco. "Arroyo Seco" means "dry gully", but the Arroyo Seco is not dry. The creek is beautiful.
No trip to the Arroyo Seco would be complete without a cactus snack.
This dam is just upstream from Paul Little Picnic Area. I wonder what it looked like before it was "improved" by man?
Manuel and Emma at the dam at Paul Little.
Emma and Manuel at Paul Little Picnic Area. A lot of work went into developing this site. I'm sure it was very nice at one time. It's too bad it hasn't been maintained...
One of many creek crossings between Gould Mesa and Oakwilde. Emma wishes she had remembered her sandals!
We shared Oakwilde with a group of kids from the Pacific Nazarene School (?) in Pasadena. Beth, Melanie, and Michele visited us several times that evening.
Packing up Tuesday morning as we prepare to leave Oakwilde.
The hike from Oakwilde to Switzers Falls is mostly uphill. Here we rest in Long Canyon. We're almost there. "Kool-Aid Kool-Aid, Tastes Great!"
This was a pretty cascade near the top of Long Canyon. I suspect it dries up later in the year.
This is the sign where the Bear Canyon Trail meets the Gabrielino Trail. Here you go down to Switzer Falls.
I went for a short swim at Switzer Falls. It was too cold to enjoy. The good thing about this trip is it was too cold for snakes and too cold for mosquitos. The bad thing about this trip is it was too cold to enjoy the water.
An unobstructed view of Switzer Falls. I just sat on a rock in the middle of the stream and enjoyed it.
The kids tried to enjoy the falls inspite of the cold water.
We camped about a half mile downstream from Switzer Falls. Emma took a nap as soon as I got the tent set up.
We kept the food simple this time: cold cereal for breakfast. Why not? It's what we eat at home! I enjoy cheerios and cocoa puffs.
Daddy and his hiking buddy.
I've never been able to determine if this is Mt. Disappointment or Mt. San Gabriel or ???
Much of the chapparel was in bloom. Look closely - can you see the yellow spider at the lower right hand side?

Click here for high resolution image.
On the return trip to Oakwilde. It's much easier to hike down Long Canyon than to hike up Long Canyon!
This is rock rose. It is edible and very succulent. Emma shares her father's interest in edible plants. So far she can identify and has eaten wild mustard, lambquarter, miners lettuce, cactus, wild radish, rock rose, and chickweed.
Emma samples chickweed. Chickweed is easily identified by a single line of fine white hair that runs along each stem.
Dad at Oakwilde on Wednesday night. We had the place to ourselves.
Emma and Manuel at Oakwilde on Wednesday night.
Emma's not too anxious to get up on Thursday morning.
Manuel, on the other hand, is ready to go. But we had to listen to him snore all night!
The view from Oakwilde campground in the morning.
A view of the Arroyo Seco as we hike from Oakwilde to Gould Mesa. This was taken near Paul Little.
California Golden Poppy seen at Gould Mesa Campground.
One more lunch...cooking Ramen soup at Gould Mesa.
Holy North by Northwest Batman! It's Compass Woman!
Copyright © 2001 by Bill Qualls. Last updated May 5, 2001.
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