What the ESA Sign Means For Trail Users

I took some family and friends on a hike today.  The original plan was to travel the Silver Moccasin Trail from Angeles Crest Highway to the San Gabriel River (which I wrote about in my last post).  However, there was a newly posted ESA (Environmentally Sensitive Area) sign stating “No Entrance Permitted.”

It’s location (a few feet left of the trailhead) made the meaning a little vague–at least for me and those I was with.  If the sign was posted in the trail itself, I would have seen it as clear that the trail was off limits.  If it was further away, I would have seen it as clear that it did not apply to the trail.

In part because I know of numerous other trails close by, we decided to accept the “no entrance permitted” interpretation and hiked elsewhere.

After our hike I stopped by the Clear Creek Information Center to get an official interpretation.  It turns out that the sign only applies to areas off the trail.  So, the trail is open, one just needs to stay on it.

I also learned that the Angeles Forest website in not kept up to date.  For those who want current information regarding trail closures etc, the ranger suggested calling.  Phone numbers are on their website: http://www.fs.usda.gov/angeles under “contact information” in the left box area.

Exploring Echo Mountain down to Rubio Canyon to ?

Wednesday was a great hiking day.  I found a ridge trail not on any of my maps or described in any of my literature from Inspiration Point to close to the midway point of the middle Sam Merrill Trail.  The views were excellent and the trail a lot of fun (for me at least) to traverse.  I’ll be posting photos etc soon.

While trekking the above trail I talked to a trail runner (Chris) who asked me if I knew where the trail went leading down from Echo Mountain.  By the time I finished my very enjoyable hike along what I’m calling the Inspiration Peak Trail (at least until someone tells me an official name), I was inspired to explore further and see if I could learn the answer to Chris’s question.

I found the beginning of the trail easily enough.  It can be found by hiking down to the old tennis court area from Echo mountain from here:

Then, head to the picnic table pictured below:

Turn left between the tree and the old stone wall shown below:

The trail will begin looking like the picture below, clearly showing signs of being a trail leading somewhere:

Soon after passing through the above shown area, the trail will show signs that it’s not used nearly as much as other trails in the area.  It becomes fairly steep in some spots and at times requires a little looking around to make out the way forward.  There are no signs indicating where it leads and there are some points where it looks like there’s a choice in direction regarding how to proceed.  For example, when I reached this point

I continued following the path down ultimately leading to a stream roughly where Castle Canyon and Rubio Canyon meet.  However, branching off to the right at this point was another path equally clear leading somewhere else–I have no idea where.  Down near the stream I was rewarded with terrain like this:

I only had time to go about 0.8 miles and about 200′ of gain and loss round trip (data of iPhone GPS level of accuracy).  I don’t know where this trail ends or if it connects to somewhere else.  For like minded explorers, I’ve included a photo gallery with 39 more photos here to provide some clues as to how proceed along the trail.  This trail definitely has a more wilderness like feel to it and I only recommend it to those who are comfortable with a little sleuthing along the way and have experience knowing when to turn back if things become unclear etc.

If anyone knows any more about this trail–it’s name, any map or documentation describing it, or where it leads I would really appreciate a comment.  Thanks, and happy hiking!