HIKING AND RIDING TRAILS
OF THE GLENDORA AREA
PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE
WILLIAM B. CULLEN
It is the purpose of this study to document what is known about the hiking and riding trails in the Glendora foothills. This information, hopefully, will be used to eventually provide the basis for a master plan of trails for the Glendora area. Past and present trails can be protected and improved and future trails can be developed to provide an interconnecting system with adjacent communities, the U.S. Forest Service, State Riding and Hiking Trails and the Los Angeles County Trail System.
In the first section of this study, past and present trails are looked at in terms of how they relate to past and current needs. The second sections deals with projected needs, and outlines how existing trails can be improved upon and new ones developed in order to provide for future generations of hikers and riders. Special emphasis is placed on the trails in Glendoras foothills as a part of a regional and statewide equestrian and hiking trail system.
Specifics are outlined as to what steps must be taken before Glendoras trails can interconnect with this larger system.
GLENDORA FOOTHILL TRAILS: PAST AND PRESENT
This past bicentennial year, we were reminded of the history of this area - a history in which trails played an important part. For example, it was just over two hundred years ago, in 1774, that Juan Bautista de Anza opened the trail from Mexico which would serve a major communication and supply route to Spanish settlements on the California coast.(1) Learning of the existence of a route from the Indians, De Anza followed it in his initial expedition. His party encountered many hardships. Snow storms caused the men to suffer from frostbite, and at the other extreme, cattle and pack animals died from heat and lack of water and vegetation in the desert.
De Anzas second expedition crossed the Mexican border in September, 1775. The party reached Mission San Gabriel, on the way north, on January 4, 1776 - just about the time that Common Sense, Thomas Paines call for independence, appeared on the east coast. During the next few years, over three hundred colonists traveled this trail to reach California. Although not visible today, a portion of the de Anza trail passed near what is now known as Arrow Highway. A historical marker, placed at the location of Mud Springs on Arrow Highway in San Dimas commemorates this trail and the location of where the expedition camped the day before reaching the mission at San Gabriel. The Spaniards, however, were probably not the first trail builders is this region. No doubt the Shoshonean
Indians, who frequented the area prior to the coming of the Spaniards, had favorite trails which they used in gathering acorns from the large oak trees in this part of the valley.
(1.) Diane Elaine Lindsay, Our Historic Desert: The Story of the Anza-Borrego Desert, San Diego, Copley Press, Inc., 1973, pp. 41-53.
The first large and durable trails were most likely developed during the mission days when the San Gabriel Mission used Indian vacqueros to watch over its cattle. Historian Donald Pflueger speculates that there were probably many cattle trails through the valley leading to the springs along the foothills and to the stream in Big Dalton Canyon.(2.) At this time, Big Dalton Canyon was known as El Canon del la Boca Negra, which means The Canyon of the Black Mouth.
When the mission fathers looked at Mt. San Antonio (Old Baldy) from the mission, the oak trees, with their dark foliage located at the entrance to the canyon, stood in deep contrast to the snow on the mountain.(3.) (p. 4 - Pflueger)
Mexicos independence from Spain brought about the secularization of mission lands, and when Englishman Henry Dalton arrived in the Valley, he was able to purchase a portion of the San Jose Rancho which included what is now Glendora. Cattle, horses, and sheep roamed the area, and probably continued to use the cattle trails to the foothill springs and to Dalton Canyon which, during the Rancho days, was known as El Canon de San Jose.(4.) (Pflueger 4-7)
Just over one hundred years ago, in 1868, the Rancho land was declared government land. Soon after, homesteaders began to arrive in the area. Some of our historic trails, such as Whitcomb and Englehardt, bear the names of these early settlers who owned property in the foothills.
The most westerly of the areass historic trails, is located where the foothills come down to the intersection of Sierra Madre Avenue and San Gabriel Canyon Roads. This trail followed the tip of the ridge north of Glendora and then continued on to Mt. Baldy (Mt. San Antonio). John Knox Portwood used this trail to travel to and from his cabin in Cattle Canyon on the slopes of Mt. Baldy. It was also used during the late 1800s by pack trains of burros carrying supplies to and bringing ore out of the Allison Mine, in the vicinity of Mt. Baldy.
The early settlers followed this ridge route rather than going up the bottom of the San Gabriel Canyon for two reasons. In summer, the canyon floor was rough, eroded and filled with rocks. In the winter, traveling was also difficult due to high water and quicksand. It is said that horses occasionally sank in the quicksand up to their stomachs. (5.) A portion of this trail was used by miners as access to Eldoradoville, a mining town of the gold rush days in the San Gabriel Canyon.
The easterly portion of the Cattle Canyon Trail fell into disuse as a transportation route after the Glendora Mountain Road, leading to Baldy Village, was constructed by prisoners during the 1930s. Adjacent to the westerly portion of the Cattle Canyon Trail, the Glendora Ridge Fire Road was constructed. This road is also utilized for recreational purposes by hikers and horseback riders. In the future, this road could become a part of the County Trail System, connecting the areas west of Glendora with those to the east.
There are several trails which begin at the base of the foothills above Sierra Madre Avenue and lead to the to of the ridge where they connect with the Glendora Ridge Fire Road.
(2.) Pflueger, p. 4
(3.) Pflueger, p.4
(4.) Pflueger, pp. 4-7
(5.) Pflueger, p. 19
The most westerly north-south trail is know as Garcia, or Mexican Canyon. This trail starts just east of the Los Angeles County Fire Station No. 97, and continues to the top of the ridge. It is thought to have been built, originally, by a man named Garcia, who lived in a small house under the eucalyptus tree in the canyon just west of the fire station. Most likely, he worked for the Azusa Foothill Ranch or the McNeil family, owners of the property.
The Garcia Trail was used for access to the top of the ridge by the U.S. Forest Service prior to the construction of the Glendora Ridge Fire Road. It has since been turned over to the Los Angeles County Fire Department, which used the trail to maintain the fire department phone line coming down to the fire station from the top of the ridge. Today, the Garcia Trail is used by hikers even though the upper portion is somewhat dangerous and poor for horsemen. There have been mud slides near the top, and some restoration would be necessary before it could be used as an equestrian trail.
Moving eastward, the next trail leading to the top of the ridge is the Whitcomb Trail. In the early days, this trail probably followed the route of the present North Glendora Avenue up to its present beginning at the end of the pavement near the home of Mr. & Mrs. Glen Hicks. Built in the late 1800s, this trail was used primarily for recreational purposes. Donald Pflueger, in his history of Glendora, describes the part which the Whitcomb Trail, and others, played in the recreational activities of Glendora residents during the early 1900s.
Though some people felt that there was no place to go except to church on Sunday, others found a great deal of pleasure in simple outings. Hiking by foot or riding burros to the top of the San Gabriel Mountains via the many trails was a favorite pastime. President and Mrs. George F. Bovard of the University of Southern California used to ride burros with the Whitcomb children to the top of the Whitcomb Trail. In the spring, during wild flower season, and when the air was clear, it was an exhilarating experience to look out over the valley all the way to the blue Pacific. (6.) (p. 42)
It is said that from the ridge one could see ships coming into San Pedro Harbor. Walter Cullen told of watching the sailing ships in San Pedro Harbor with his telescope. In the 20s, the Boy Scouts built a picnic shelter at the top of Whitcomb Trail and some residents still recall the times spent under the shelter looking at the beautiful valley floor below.
Prior to 1969, occasional volunteer work parties kept the Whitcomb Trail in fairly good repair. During the heavy rains in 1969, however, the soil became so saturated with water that many parts of the trail slid off the mountain. There has been no repair work since that time, and it has become overgrown with brush and grass.
The most historic local trail has been known by three names: Englehardt, Persinger, and Government Trail. In the late 1880s, Thomas Sharp built the southern portion of the trail, which began on John Englehardts property at the mouth of Englewild Canyon, near the
(6.) Pflueger, p. 42
north end of Kregmont Street. The trail went to the top of the ridge, where it connected with the portion built by Bates Persinger, who lived in a cabin in the San Gabriel Canyon where the lake behind Morris Dam is now located.
Bates Persinger was a large, heavily bearded man of considerable strength, who carefully planned the trail to provide the best possible route over the mountain. He would pack supplies on his back, and carry them from Glendora over the mountain to his cabin. One story concerning the building of the trail tells of Mr. Persinger being bitten by a rattlesnake while working. He took whatever emergency treatment he could provide for himself, and then walked down the mountain to W.B. Cullens place, where Mrs. Cullen gave him additional first aid. After a short rest, Persinger left and walked back over the trail to his cabin alone, thus proving the stories of his strength and stamina.
During the 1890s, slides made the upper portion of the trail impassable. Repairs were probably made by Persinger. Henry Englehardt used this trail as a route to his timber claims to harvest. Both Henry and John Englhardt used the lower portion of the trail for access to the spring that supplied them with water for their homes and farms. Not long after the Englehardt trail was built, the Forest Service decided that a trail into the back country was needed. After a survey of the mountains, the Englehardt Trail was selected because of its gentle, easy climb. Thereafter, it became known as (a) Government Trail and was maintained by the Forest Service which used it to bring supplies into the back country via the Cattle Canyon Trail.
In 1919, when a huge forest fire broke out in the back country, firefighters and all of their supplies were packed up this trail. A base camp was set up at the Englehardt Ranch where the hungry and tired firefighters would come down from the mountain to eat and rest. Walter Cullen, who was in charge of a group of firefighters, told of being up in the back country for over a week when, just as the fire reached the top of the range and was about to start down the south side of the valley, an early September rain came. Miraculously, the fire was halted. The men threw down their tools and came down the trail.
Many of the firefighters came from as far as Los Angeles to help out in the back country. In another anecdote, Mrs. Ruth Richardson tells of using her car to haul the tired firefighters to the Pacific Electric Depot on Glendora Avenue, then called Michigan Avenue. Many of the men, while waiting for the big red car, (Pacific Electric Railroad), went into Carl Hoydendorfs Glendora Drug Company and bought out his supply of ice cream.
Government Trail was abandoned by the Fire Service during the early 1930s as new roads were built back into the mountains. In recent years, this trail has been seldom used, because it required access across private property. During the late 1950s and early 1960s, a new connecting trail was cut from Little Harrow Canyon (west of Engelwild Canyon) to connect with the Englehardt Trail, and was used for a time by horseback riders. However, the trail has become greatly neglected and is no longer in use today.
Moving eastward, the next trail which has provided access to the back country was named after Mr. Clifford Wood, a local medical doctor. Dr. Wood was very fond of the mountains and desert, and was interested in mining ventures. He owned a cabin in Big Dalton Canyon, just north of where the Big Dalton Dam is presently located. It was said that Dr. Wood frowned on the killing of rattlesnakes because of upsetting the balance of nature. The Woods Trail followed the ridge between Big Dalton and Little Dalton Canyons, about the same route the Monroe Truck Trail now follows, after it meets the top of the ridge.
This trail provided another connection with the Cattle Canyon Trail and was used by people who liked to hike and stay over night at a number of camps, such as Follows and Webers, which offered food and accommodations. These camps were located in the upper reaches of the east fork of the San Gabriel Canyon.
Walter Cullen used the Woods Trail to get to his mining claims near Tan Bark Flats. In his diary, written between 1901 and 1903, he tells of camping at Horse Canyon Saddle, which is just east of where the Monroe Truck Trail/Woods Trail now crosses Glendora Mountain Road. His gold mining claims were located about a mile east of Horse Canyon Saddle and there are a number of entries in the diary about traveling to the mine. It is presumed that the Woods Trail was the route he followed.
The Monroe Truck Trail begins at the picnic area at the curve in Glendora Mountain Road about a mile north of the mouth of the canyon. The Monroe Truck Trail was first used in the early 1920s when a deposit of metal used for hardening steel was discovered by Owen Cullen in Little Dalton Canyon. A mine, several dwellings, and a mill for processing the ore were located in the vicinity. During the depression years, the Monroe Truck Trail was improved and became a Forest Service fire road.
Today, the Woods and Monroe Truck Trails are the most used of all the trails. Horseback riders enjoy riding from Little Dalton to Glendora Mountain Road and back, which is about sixteen miles. It is possible to ride down the Monroe Truck Trail to the bottom of San Gabriel Canyon where it meets the East Fork Road. There is also a small trail going east near where the Woods Trail meets the Monroe Truck Trail. This short trail leads to a meadow near Mystic Canyon and is a nice place to hike or ride for a picnic.
When the City of Glendora develops a trail system on the city property in Big Dalton Canyon, it may be possible to ride down into the Canyon from the end of the trail. The County Park Department has indicated an interest in making this trail a part of the county plan to provide access into the back country.
To the east of the Woods and Monroe Truck Trail, on the ridge rising to the south of Big Dalton Canyon is the Sycamore Trail, which was built in the 1880s. Its beginning can be found on the south side of the entrance to Big Dalton Canyon northeast of the riding ring. It was used as access to the back country by way of Johnstone Peak and Tan Bark Flats (The Bluebird Truck Trail now follows the general route of the historic Sycamore Trail). A wagon road was built from the intersection of Sierra Madre and Valley Center along the present route of Bluebird Road to where it intersects the Sycamore Trail which eliminated the need for the lower portion of this trail except for recreational use by riders and hikers.
The southern fork leads to Sycamore Flat and becomes the Sycamore Flat Motorway. The Sycamore Flat Motorway ends in the vicinity of San Dimas Canyon Park. From there, horseback riders use a public road, San Dimas Canyon Road, along the east boundary of the City of San Dimas to reach Foothill Boulevard.
During the early days, a number of families used the Sycamore Trail to obtain access to Cienega Springs, located east of the Blue Bird area, where they obtained water for their homes and groves. It was also used for maintenance of the springs by The Cienega Spring Water Company.
The trail went by the home of the Dunn Family, probably one of the homes in this area farthest from civilization. It was said that the Dunn Family was quite musical. They had a number of band instruments which were played so loudly on still summer evenings, the music would carry down into the valley. The Sycamore Trail is not used too frequently today. Its lower part was eliminated when the Big Dalton Basin was built, and the upper portion has been heavily overgrown. There are several short trails up in Dalton Canyon. Some are still in use today up to where the dam is built. Beyond there, however, there is no access because of restrictions by the flood control district and U.S. Forest Service. There is hope that the Flood Control and Forest Service may cooperate in opening some trails.
In general, the historic trails in the northern foothills, built by the early settlers to provide access to the ridge and back country, are not presently used much because they are in a state of disrepair, except where paralleled by fire roads. Where the trails are passable, their use is primarily by hikers and not equestrians.
There are, however, several newer trails in the hills to the east which are frequently used by horsemen. It should be noted that all of their trails are on private property. The Ferguson Motorway is one which is very popular. There are a number of access roads or trails to the Ferguson Motorway. Bluebird Road, which is a private road without provision for horses, begins near the intersection of Sierra Madre and Valley Center. Winding Way Lane off of Valley Center Drive is the most southerly access, but requires passage across private property. When taking this southern route, riders can connect with the Ferguson Motorway by going along either, the Mull Motorway (east of Gordon Canyon), the Olive Grove Trail, located east of Mull Canyon, or the East Morgan Trail, east of Morgan Canyon. After reaching the Ferguson Motorway, riders may proceed in a south-easterly direction and eventually come to the Sycamore Canyon Trail. This trail, following Sycamore Canyon to the north, then veers east and joins with the northern section of the Sycamore Flat Motorway at Sycamore Flat.
All of the trails west of Dalton Canyon, with the exception of those improved as fire roads, are largely impassable today, due to damage from erosion caused by heavy rains. Repairs are needed because the upper portions, on most of the trails, have been heavily damaged by mud slides near the ridge. Other sections of the trails have been overgrown, and, in some spots, the entire trail will have to be rebuilt before being used by hikers and horseback riders.
Today, access to the Whitcomb Trail would require crossing private property. Before the rains of 1969, some horseback riders were able to connect with the trail by riding up the ridge from Easley Canyon, gaining access without going through the private property at the end of Glendora Avenue. However, in order for the Whitcomb Trail to be used by equestrians for access up to Glendora Ridge Road, considerable repair work is needed at the north end. Easements will have to be obtained, as with the Cattle Canyon and Garcia Trails.
PROPOSED TRAIL PLAN
There is a great need for a master trail plan which will provide for the recreational needs of the area residents. This master trail plan should be adopted by the City of Glendora to guarantee the acquisition of the right of way for these trails before future land developments make the creating of trails impossible. Many of the trails discussed here are on private property, however it may be possible to obtain easements, or dedication for trail purposes from property owners if they are assured the trails will not be a nuisance or jeopardize their rights. Motor vehicles should be prohibited from the use of these trails.
Safeguards against erosion and dust will have to be met for the protection of the environment. Trail regulations should be carefully studied and enforced so that creating a trail will not be of detriment to the property owner. A permit system of use would give additional protection to land-owners.
After a trail plan is established, some of the actual construction of trails could be done with local volunteer labor and without tax monies. A trail system created by volunteer effort should result in a better understanding and appreciation of all the factors involved. Many projects in the past were achieved by volunteer labor and have been in use for many years. It should be noted that most of the old trails mentioned in this report were developed by use and without public money. All trails should be built or rebuilt to meet certain standards that will protect the environment and provide as much safety as possible for the users. A master trail plan should endeavor to meet the following needs:
1. Provide local trails
2. Provide a main east-west trail to connect with trails to the east and west.
3. Provide for north-south trails to connect with the main east-west route.
4. Provide for at least one trail that will eventually connect with the Pacific Crest Trail.
5. Cooperate with Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation, United States Forest Service, State of California and adjoining cities.
The accompanying map should help clarify this study and should be used by the reader in following the trails described.
Along the foothills, there are a number of short trails which have been established by use of hikers and riders. Some of these trails could be improved and used to connect with the main trails if easements across private property are obtained. Some of the trails along the flood control channels could be improved and used if proper easements are obtained. Some of these channels are located on private property and it will be necessary to obtain permission from both the property owner and the Flood Control District for use of the land.
For years, there has been talk of developing a trail along the Big Dalton Wash south to the South Hills. I believe this goal can and should be achieved. The crossing of Alosta Avenue can be made at Loraine Avenue where there is a signal. If there is enough use to warrant the construction of an underpass where the Big Dalton Wash crosses under Alosta, it may be possible to secure financial help from the County Parks and Recreation Department. Recent developments in the South Hills and the City Park land located near the proposed horse facilities will justify creating the trail along the Big Dalton Wash.
In the foothills east of the Bluebird area, there are several trails created by use. Some of this property is in the planning process of development and it may be possible to get one or two of these local trails developed or right of way reserved prior to property development. The same holds true for land along the foothills north of Glendora between the Garcia Trail and the Little Dalton Canyon.
Main East-West Trail
This trail will be of prime importance in a master trail plan. It would follow the general route of the historic Cattle Canyon Trail from the mouth of the San Gabriel Canyon along the ridge east to the mouth of the Dalton Canyons and then east along the general route of the Bluebird fire road to Sycamore Flats and down the mouth of San Dimas Canyon.
This trail would provide the necessary connection between the County Trail at Fish Canyon on the west and hopefully Marshall Canyon and San Antonio Canyon to the east. This will provide the access to the County Trail from Marshall Canyon south along the new trail being constructed by the County Parks and Recreation Department south to Bonelli County Park. From the County Park south and west along Walnut Creek there is a proposed trail that will connect with the County trail at Whittier Narrows. This will provide riders and hikers with a route which will make it possible to go as far south as Long Beach and north from Fish Canyon along Van Tassle Truck Trail to the State Riding and Hiking Trail located near Angeles Crest Highway.
This trail would also tie into trails proposed by District Ranger Steven Fitch within Angeles National Forest. The tree loop trails proposed by the Forest Service and accessible from the main east-west trail, will provide many miles of trails in the back country. The main points of difficulty in developing this route will be across the mouth of the San Gabriel Canyon and across some private property north and east of the intersection of Sierra Madre and San Gabriel Canyon Road. Also, the area across the mouth of the Dalton Canyons land across private property to Forest Service land on the Bluebird fire road will be difficult.
North-South Connecting Trails
There must be some way for riders and hikers to get to the proposed main east-west trail located to the north. The rebuilding and in some cases the rerouting of several of the Historic Trails could provide this access. The Garcia, Whitcomb, and Englehardt trails would all serve this need but it may not be possible to use all of them due to access problems along the foot of the mountain. The Colby fire road could possibly be used along with a new trail constructed north to connect with the Glendora Ridge (Cattle Canyon) trail.
Connection North to the State Trail
The Monroe Truck Trail (Woods Trail) could be put on the County Trail Plan to provide a connection north to the San Gabriel Canyon and eventually could be extended to reach the State Trail (Pacific Crest) via several possible routes. The County Parks and Recreation Department has indicated considerable interest in the Monroe Truck Trail.
It is already possible to reach the State Trail by taking the Van Tassle fire road from the mouth of Fish Canyon. Also the fire road starting above the Mountain Springs development north of Wheeler Road in La Verne will take the rider or hiker to Camp Baldy and thence over the mountain to Lytle Creek. From Lytle Creek, there is another fire road that goes on to Wrightwood and the State Trail.
The accomplishment of this proposed trail system depends upon the cooperation of all parties concerned. The City of Glendora and the adjoining communities, the United States Forest Service, the Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation Department and the State of California authorities must work together. Local riding and hiking groups including the Equestrian Trails organization can help to generate the interest to push this plan or some other trail plan to completion. The plan as presented may not be the final one, but I am proposing it to show a possible way that would work with great effort, patience and perseverance.
The officials of the City of Glendora have shown by their great interest in the past and present trails that they have concern for riders and hikers. They have shown their concern about the great asset we have in the beautiful mountains and hills surrounding Glendora.
I present this study and proposed plan for the consideration of the City of Glendora in hopes that some of the history of our area will help to generate enough interest to provide a trail system for the future. I wish to thank the City Council and staff for their help and patience in the preparation of this study.
A 1995 Addendum to the section of the Hiking And Riding Trail Report called Proposed Trails Plan starting on page 14 of the attached report.
The original report was written about 25 years ago. This addendum is to show that some progress has been made in accomplishing some of the plans advocated in the section referred to as Proposed Trail Plan. The Glendora City Council would not approve four different subdivisions until the subdividers would agree to build trails.
Hughes Development Corporation was required to build a trail on the property traversed by the Colby Fire Road. Hughes was also required to build a trail on the Mull property at the end of Lone Hill Avenue. Walton Development Co. was required to build a trail on the Morgan Ranch. Hix Development Co. was required to build a trail on the tract south of Alosta Avenue referred to as the Chan property.
Los Angeles County has completed a trail that extends from the San Gabriel River east to Bonnelli Regional Park, thence north through the City of LaVerne to Marshall Canyon Regional Park. With patience and perseverance, there may be a system of trails that meet some to the general goals stated in the original trail report.
William B. Cullen
retyped by Dick Swinney