It’s springtime and another hike to Fish Canyon Falls is in order. My buddy Tom has lived in Azusa all his life but has never been to the icon waterfalls in our nearby canyon. So we finally found a date and planned our hike. Visits to Fish Canyon Falls have been a springtime tradition for me for the last 10 years. In April 2005, Vulcan Materials began to provide free shuttle access through the quarry on select Saturdays. Now with the new access trail, which opened on June 21, 2014, hiking Fish Canyon is a 365-days-a-year possibility. And this will be my first time ever hiking it on Sunday.
We arrive at Vulcan at 8 a.m. and are puzzled to the find about a dozen cars lined up at the locked gate. It’s supposed to open at 7 a.m. We learn that there is a little fire near the month of the canyon so fire officials are checking to make sure it is safe to open the trail. Soon it is all clear the security guard arrives and opens the gate to the trailhead parking lot.
8:15 AM – Begin hike. We stroll through the quite quarry. It’s cool. Our pace is slow as we let the foot-traffic pass. We transition passed the big rock to the riparian corridor and begin to enjoy the wildflowers: Brittlebush, California buckwheat, common yarrow, golden yarrow, Canterbury bells, sticky monkeyflower, mule fat, Spanish broom. We cross the bridge into the Angeles National Forest at 8:40 and begin our walk on the historic trail.
We take our time as we saunter along, look at flowers, and soak in the beauty of the canyon. Poison oak leaves abound after their winter hiatus. With little rain this year, the weedy grasses are yellowing early but I am pleased that the vegetation still speaks of springtime. There are lots of flowers in bloom. Tom is really enjoying the trail and scenery, and I am enjoying experiencing the canyon through his fresh eyes. There are many hikers on the trail today. We chat with various ones. We take the side jaunt to visit Darlin’ Donna Falls; it’s flowing nicely and Tom is impressed by its charm.
11:11 – Cross the main creek. It’s dry from lack of rain. I introduce Tom to the rare Dudleya densiflora and he is fascinated. We pause and admire the shire rock canyon walls. Tom is amazed at the rugged beauty of the canyon and its varied scenery. The falls come into view and Tom is excited.
11:57 – Fish Canyon Falls. I love this special place. More than 30 people are here. Some are jumping into the lower pool. The water flowing over the falls is quite modest for early spring. We sit and have some lunch. Canyon guests continue to come and go.
12:57 – Leave falls. It’s getting warm now. We take our time as we continue to appreciate the plant life and the beauty of the canyon. Tom is an eager leaner as he continues to acquire the names of various plants.
We meet several parties who are very gracious in offering kind remarks and thanks for Dan’s Hiking Pages. One large party of more the 20 people head to the falls. It’s wonderful to see parents introducing their children to the great outdoors. We cross the bridge at 2:26. A mom and dad with their two kids tell us they saw a baby rattlesnake (about 12 inches long) crossing the trail a little bit ago. The walk through the quarry is warm. There are still hikers beginning their trek to the falls.
2:37 – End hike. It’s 78 degrees. There are more than 30 cars in the parking lot.
Epilog – What an enjoyable hike! I never get tired of this amazing place. It was such a delight seeing Tom experiencing the hike to the falls for the first time. Last year when I was anticipating the new access trail, I wondered if I would I miss the shared experience of the access days when many hundreds would swarm the trail. Today we encountered well more than a 100 hikers enjoying the canyon, and it had the feel of those former access days. Beautiful weather, lovely wildflowers, rich vegetation, rugged scenery, a fine trail, a splendid 80-foot waterfall, and good company—what a rewarding hike!
See Fish Canyon Falls Hike Description at Dan’s Hiking Pages (including a link list for my other blog posts for Fish Canyon)
See Plants in Fish Canyon at Dan’s Hiking Pages
(including links to various plant resources)