Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Santa Margarita Trails Possible Public Access Closure (Guest Post)

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One of our readers brought to our attention an issue of possible public access closure to the Santa Margarita Hiking Trails in Northern San Diego County.  Ashley and I recognize there is a balance between preservation of lands and public access to lands.  But I would argue that public access helps preserve natural lands for future generations because, in my experience, when people interact with nature and what it offers, they tend to want to preserve it.  We would encourage our readers in the area to educate themselves on this issue and to get involved if they so desire.  Thank you to reader, Allison Gower, for taking the time to write the following post:

Popular Trails in San Diego Under Threat Of Closure To The Public

The Santa Margarita River Valley trail system is an awe-inspiring 221 acre preserve that has been maintained for over 20 years, with public access to the hiking trails. However, the preserve is currently scheduled to be sold by the Fallbrook Trails Council. Local residents saw a potential threat to public use of these trails and decided to take action to preserve public access, especially considering the Santa Margarita Trails were voted the #1 best trails in all of San Diego County last

A Little History on the Area: The preserve was acquired in 1992, as part of the County of San Diego's Multiple Species Conservation Program, to preserve the area’s natural habitat and scenery. After the 2002 Gavilan Fire, the preserve was quickly restored for public access and use. Currently, the public has access to the beautiful trails in the preserve (from 8 a.m. to 30 minutes before sunset each day, when the park is open) for all sorts of outdoor activities, such as horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking, and walking. You can stroll by the rushing river in the preserve, watch the birds and even spot larger animals, like deer, drinking from the river.

About The Controversy: This land is currently owned by the Fallbrook Public Utilities District (FPUD) and is in the process of being sold. General manager Brian Brady of the FPUD announced that FPUD was selling the property to the Western Rivers Conservancy, in an effort to preserve the land for the long-term. This Conservancy would contribute $5.5 million along with a $5 million contribution by Marine Base Camp Pendleton to make the preserve into a permanent conservation easement.

This deal is still in the process of going through. However, as of yet, there’s no specific legal easement on the deed that ensures non-motorized public trail use, such as hiking or horseback riding, throughout the river valley property. Local citizens want to show their support for the preservation of the trails and for having this floating easement to allow continued public access to the preserve. The picture below is a trail map of the preserve.

Easy Way To Help: Local residents started a petition on iPetitions.com, to allow individuals to voice their support for continued public access to the preserve. The petition already has 1,400+ signatures and can be found at:

To show support for the continued public use and maintenance of this long-standing San Diego trail, it takes 30 seconds to sign the petition. You can also show support by reaching out to the FPUD. They have a board meeting each month, where members of the public are invited to come and voice their opinions. The next FPUD (water district) board meeting is on March 22nd at 4 PM at their headquarters: 990 E Mission Rd Fallbrook CA 92028, where they’ll be making more decisions on this topic.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Monrovia Falls Hike (Waterfall Hike)

Monrovia Falls is a beautiful 30 foot waterfall located in the San Gabriel Mountain foothills right above Monrovia, California. A hike to Monrovia Falls is a fun short hike that is easy for the entire family. This hike offers amazing scenery and the chance to see local wildlife. The hiking trail to Monrovia Falls is very popular with locations, so expect to see others enjoying this beautiful 30 foot waterfall.

Directions to Trailhead: To get to the trailhead to hike to Monrovia Falls, from the 210 freeway, exit Myrtle Avenue in Monrovia and head towards the mountains. Travel through old town Monrovia and then make a right onto Foothill Boulevard. In 4 short blocks, turn left onto Canyon Boulevard. Once you're heading north on Canyon Boulevard, in 0.7 miles, take a right to continue on Canyon Boulevard. Take the second right to stay on Canyon Boulevard and enter Monrovia Canyon Park. Currently, there is a $5 per vehicle fee to park inside Monrovia Canyon Park ($6 on Holidays and weekends) and all cars must be gone by 5PM, which is when they lock the gates. You can also park outside the park but you'll have to hike an additional 1.1 miles on a paved road. Note that the park is closed on Tuesdays.

Description of Hike: This is an out and back hike to the 30 foot Monrovia Falls, situated in the Foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. The majority of this hike hike is on a dirt hiking trail that travels through some amazing riparian areas. You have a couple of different hiking trail options to chose to hike to Monrovia Falls. Three trailhead options give a range of distances from 1.5 miles round trip to 3.4 miles round trip. The shortest is from the visitor center. We hiked from the middle parking area before the visitor center.  The longest hiking option is right by the entrance to Monrovia Canyon Park. The majority of the hike has plenty of shade from the oaks and sycamores in this location. The hike a a gradual uphill the entire way to the falls and then a gradual downhill on the way back to the trailhead.

Further Thoughts: Ashley and I enjoyed our hike to Monrovia Falls that we did in the late fall of 2015.  We saw a couple of small snakes while on our hike and got great pictures!!  You will run into other hikers when hiking to Monrovia Falls. We saw several groups of people while on our hike, but by no means was it overly crowded. Even in the late fall Monrovia Falls had a steady stream of water cascading down its face. The hiking trails were relatively easy to follow. The one downside about this hiking spot is that the park closes at 5PM, where as most wilderness parks close at sunset.

Rating: Elevation Gain: 400 to 800 (Easy), Distance: 1.5 miles to 3.4 Miles Roundtrip depending on trail (Easy).

Time to Complete Hike: 1 hour.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2015 Year in Review for Brian & Ashley's Hiking Blog

2015 has been a good year for Ashley and I on a personal note. Ashley and I moved from Mission Viejo to Monrovia toward the end of 2015, Ashley started a new job teaching at Gladstone High School, and we have been house shopping as of late. The end of 2015 has been exceptionally busy, which has taken a toll on our post here in the last several months. Regardless of this temporary busy season towards the end of 2015, readership on our blog has continued to grow. This year we added 4 new hikes as well as updated many previous hikes from years past, including Mt. Whitney and multiple associated training hikes up Mt. Baldy and Mt. San Gorgonio.  We have over 144 different hiking trails (Specifically 68 trails in the Orange County Area, 36 in the greater Southern California Area, and 45 outside of the greater Southern California Area) that are detailed on Brian and Ashley's Hiking Blog. The number of fans who like our Facebook page has steadily continued to grow, with now over 990 likes and we now have over 212 twitter followers.

Ashley and I always enjoy all the comments/feedback that we get from our readers about the hikes that they have done. Your comments, stories, and feedback continue to make this blog better and is always welcome! Ashley and I want to say a special thanks to ALL our readers and we hope that 2016 is a great hiking year for you and that you have a Happy New Year! Our goal for the next year is to continue hiking new and exciting trails as well as re-visit many of our favorite hiking locations. Ashley and I want to wish you and your family a happy and prosperous 2016! Happy Trails!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Golden Boots Award Brian & Ashley's Hiking Blog

Ashley and I were honored to be a Golden Boots Blogger Award winner for October, 2015.  We would like to say thank you to Adam Nutting and the folks over at Hiking the Trail for the award! Thank you to those that nominated us. We would also like to say congratulations to one of our other local bloggers Nobody Hikes in LA for being a co-winner! Happy hiking everyone!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Icehouse Canyon Hike

Earlier this year, I hiked up Icehouse Canyon with a couple of buddies from work, Bryan and Dustin. This is also a hike that Ashley and I have done in the past on our way to Cucamonga Peak. The hike we did up Icehouse Canyon, in May of 2015, actually encountered the last bit of snow from the 2014 to 2015 rainy season for Southern California. This area of the Angeles National Forest/San Bernardino National Forest offers Southern California residents some great hiking trails and some amazing scenery. A hike up Icehouse Canyon is well worth any hikers time due to the scenery, historic cabins, and the fact it is a fun hike.

Directions to Trailhead: To get to the trailhead to hike up Icehouse Canyon, from the 210 freeway, exit on N. Mountain Avenue and head toward the San Gabriel Mountains. You will take N. Mountain Avenue until it runs into Mt. Baldy Road. Mt. Baldy Road will take you to the Mt. Baldy Visitor Center, where you need to pick up your additional free wilderness permit, and it will take you to the trailhead at Icehouse Canyon, which is not too far from the Mt. Baldy Visitor Center. As always, since this hike is in the San Bernardino National Forest you will need a Forest Adventure Pass. You can also get one at the Mt. Baldy Visitor Center where you pick up your additional free wilderness permit. Parking can be limited on weekends, due to the popularity of hiking in this area.

Description of Hike: The hike up Icehouse Canyon is a moderate to strenuous out and back hike.  There is 2,655 feet of elevation gain from the trailhead to the Icehouse saddle. The hike is 7.2 miles roundtrip. The hike is located in the San Bernardino National Forest which means you will need to have a Forest Adventure Pass for parking at the trailhead. Additionally, since the majority of the hike is in the Cucamonga Wilderness you will also need to pick up an additional free wilderness permit from the Mt. Baldy Visitor Center. You can also get a Forest Adventure Pass at the Mt. Baldy Visitor Center where you pick up your additional free wilderness permit. Note, if you are doing this hike in the summer make sure to check the weather to see if thunderstorms are forecasted for the mountains in Southern California. If they are, make sure to begin your hike early enough to be done before thunderstorms build in the afternoon. Additionally, during the winter, snowfall can blanket this entire area. If you hike this area in snow, make sure you have proper gear which could include crampons or snowshoes. When there is lots of snow present, you will find the trail has no switchbacks and is a direct hike right up the center of the canyon.

Further thoughts: This hike is truly an enjoyable half-day excursion into our local Southern California mountains. As you start your hike, the hiking trail meanders right between several groups of cabins and you also get the chance to see ruins from older cabins that burned down in past wildfires. When we started this hike, it was unique because the sky was so clear.  There literally was not a cloud in the sky when we began our hike at around 7:30 in the morning. The air was clean and crisp from the rain storm that came through the area the night before. However, by the time we finished the hike, we were socked in some thick cloudy weather, that developed during our hike. It was a neat experience to be able to watch the clouds develop in such a quick fashion. The whole way down from the Icehouse Canyon Saddle, we were in clouds.

While doing this hike, not long after crossing into the Cucamonga Wilderness, the hiking trail starts to climb at a steeper pace and that your heart starts to pound more heavily due to the uphill terrain. The hiking trail, up Icehouse Canyon, is well marked and easy to follow. When hiking in this area, you will likely see other hikers because it is a popular hiking spot. On weekends the parking area tends to fill up early, so take that into consideration when making your hiking plans. The Icehouse Canyon Saddle is a nice location to enjoy lunch, or it can serve as a staging area to hike to the higher peaks in this area, such as Cucamonga peak.

To the north of Icehouse Saddle, a trail follows the ridge to Timber Mountain (0.9 miles), Telegraph Peak (2.9 miles), and Thunder Mountain (3.9 miles), before descending to Baldy Notch (5.4 miles). To the southeast of Icehouse Saddle is a trail to Cucamonga Peak (2.4 miles). To the southwest of Icehouse Saddle is Ontario Peak (2.8 miles). And to the east, the Middle Fork Trail descends 5.4 miles to Middle Fork Trailhead.

Rating: Elevation Gain: 2,655 ft. (Moderate - Strenuous), Distance: 7.2 Miles Roundtrip (Moderate - Strenuous).

Time to Complete Hike: 3-5 hours.