I strongly believe that if I saw enough photos of trails in Angeles Forest, I would have hiked them at least two decades before I did. It’s impossible to know how that would have impacted my life. However, I am certain I would have been significantly healthier and as a result much happier.
Without extensive prior experience, I found it virtually impossible to imagine what is there or even what might be there. Descriptions in guide books were of no tangible help. How could I search for something I didn’t even know existed? The mountains looked similar to me from the city below. Even when I started hiking in earnest, the mountains looked similar driving by some trails to get to others. The subtleties and ecotones just aren’t visible from afar. I’ve now completed over 100 hikes in the forest and still feel like I’m just scratching the surface.
So, in creating this resource, it’s always been important to me to develop a visual approach for finding hikes. Although I’m still very early on in the process of adding hikes here, I feel I now have enough to introduce a first step (of hopefully many) toward visual searching. I’ve now added several photo collections in the Galleries section of this site. The collections are in general categories to break up the photo stream and the photos are simply organized by the order I place them into the collections. Under each photo is a link or two. For example:
When you click on the link a new window will open with additional thumbnail photos in the immediate area. So, at a glance you can determine if you want to look further. Click on a thumbnail photo and a viewer will open allowing you to see full size images.
If the link takes you to a peak page (e.g. San Gabriel Peak from the example above), you will also see a list of links to hikes that will reach the peak complete with distance and gain data. If the link takes you to a trail segment photo page (e.g. Lower San Gabriel Peak Trail from the example above), then you will also see a link to the trail segment page. From there you will find links to hikes. The intermediary step for trail pages is so that people who want to just see photos of forks in the trails etc and not “spoiler photos” of the territory also have a way to find hikes here.
Clicking on a hike link (e.g. San Gabriel Peak Trail, 3.6 miles, 1411′ gain and loss) will take you to the hike page with a complete description telling you how to complete the hike. In addition there is a link to the trailhead page (e.g. San Gabriel Peak Trailhead) that has a vicinity map, a link to google maps allowing you to zoom out if you’re unfamiliar with the vicinity, a description and/or photos of parking opportunities and a list of other hikes from the trailhead.
So, you can look through photos until one interests you enough to think about hiking in that area and simply click your way (without additional searching) to progressively more detailed and specific information ultimately leading to a map telling you how to get to the trailhead. I’ve found Angeles Forest to be a vast and surprisingly diverse place. It’s also closer to the city than most people realize. Especially now that the days are getting longer, if you can make it to one hike in Angeles Forest in a day, you can most likely make it to any of them–except those closed due to the Station Fire or snow on the highway etc.