Showing posts with label Hiking Adventures. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hiking Adventures. Show all posts

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Hiking Adventure #5 The Ruins of Echo Mountain

In Altadena, Lake Avenue, lies a 107-acre playground for hikers and explorers called the Cobb Estate.  Some may know it as the "haunted forest" or "enchanted forest" due to tremendous number of rumors and dark history, but to some  it's just an into the wild escape from the city where you can hike up to the ruins of an early 1900s vacation spot.

The hike begins in the intersection of Lake Avenue and Alta Loma Drive. You will not miss the chilling yet welcoming Cobb Estate Gate. The hike has a nice and  shady flat walk for about .5 of a mile until you choose the Sam Merrill Trial, then its a physical conditioning battle. The uphill trail takes about two hours to the ruins of Echo Mountain. (Water is highly recommended)

After a 2.8 mile incline hike you will reach the foundations of the once-luxurious, turn-.of-the-century hotel, and the remains of its incline railway.

The Mount Lowe Railway 

The Mount Lowe Railway was created in 1893 as a tourist attraction on Echo Mountain. The railway, originally incorporated by Professor Thaddeus S. C. Lowe as the Pasadena & Mt. Wilson Railroad Company  existed from 1893 until its official abandonment in 1938, and had the distinction of being the only scenic mountain, electric traction railroad ever built in the United States.

The sole purpose of the Mount Lowe Railway was to take passengers to the  great magical land  called "The White City", which was known as a resort. At the time, it cost $5 dollars to hop on to the electric tram to this resort. (Estimated at $1,000 current value)

On January 6, 1993, the Mount Lowe Railway was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the remains are scattered for history seekers.

Courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library

The Echo Mountain House (Resort)

As previously mentioned the Mount Lowe Railway was created in order to get tourist to stay at the Echo Mountain House. The house was constructed and finished in 1894.  According to the Los Angeles Public Library the building was 4 stories tall and had very modern  amenities.
The entire inside of the hotel was finished in natural wood. There were 70 sleeping rooms, plus large areas devoted to office space and recreation. There was a 40 by 80 foot social hall, a dining room, souvenir shop, Western Union office, bowling alley, billiard room, barbershop and shoeshine stand

The Demise of Echo Mountain 

The Remains of the Echo Mountain House
What seemed like a great magical resort turned into a magical disaster.  A series of natural disasters ate away at the facilities, the first of which was a kitchen fire that destroyed the Echo Mountain House. In 1909 a flood destroyed most of the hotel and its repairs was costly. The ten year old hotel was not being as profitable as expected. In 1938, the entire area was abandoned and simply left as memory.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Hiking Adventure #4 Bronson Cave Trail

Address: Canyon Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90068

Elevation Change: 55 feet

Distance: 0.66 miles 

In the vicinity of Griffith Park, Bronson Cave trail is a very easy short trail that leads to a nice scene and man made caves. Bronson Cave is one of Hollywood’s favorite filming locations since the 1920's.

 History of the Cave

In 1903 the Union Rock Company used this canyon (known back then as Brush Canyon) for excavation of crushed rock to construct the City of Los Angeles which was rapidly expanding into a modern city.

After vacating the area, all that was left behind were man made caves which through out the years  became known as the Bronson Cave after a nearby street.

The Cave in Films

The cave became a popular filming location since the 1920's, a few silent films were shot here. The cave became known to many as the Batcave as the cave was used for the popular Batman television series of the 60's. Other films that have been shot here , include the Wild Wild West which features Will Smith, The Scorpion King with The Rock, and horror film Cabin Fever (2002)

Screenshot of the Batmobile leaving the Bronson Cave. Batman television series of the 1960's

Really nice view of the Hollywood sign from outside of the Bronson Cave
One side of the Bronson Cave, this is the side in which the Batmoblie use to come out in the Batman series

The entrance of the cave from far away

Inside the Cave (Picture taken 1.1.2015)
To get to the trailhead:  be on  Canyon Drive  and drive 1.4 miles to the end of the road at top of Bronson Canyon Park. There is a small parking area on the left, and a larger lot a tenth of a mile south of the trailhead on the right. Make sure you arrive early for easy access to parking. The trail to Bronson Cave can be very confusing, the trail  begins from the fire road on the right at the end of the road. If you continue going up you can get a trail that leads to the Hollywood Sign and the Griffith Park Observatory

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Hiking Adventure #3 Devil's Gate Dam

Address: Oak Grove Drive & Foothill Blvd., Pasadena

Top Elevation: 1310 ft. 

Our hiking adventure began as we parked at Hahamongna Watershed Park in Pasadena, (No there is no typo there) This park is named after a chief of a Native American tribe who resided in the area during the late 1700's. In this adventure our main goal was to see the Devil's Gate Dam, but also to hike one side of the Arroyo Seco. The Arroyo Seco was one of the Los Angeles River streams explored by Gaspar de Portola in 1770s. He named the stream Arroyo Seco, for of all the canyons he had seen; this stream  had the least water hence the name seco, which means dry in English. Although considered a dry steam, floods in 1914 and 1916 destroyed parts of Pasadena and Los Angeles which led engineers to build a dam to control future floods. 

Devil's Gate Dam, built in 1920 was named for the appearance of a horned devil face in a narrow canyon of the Arroyo Seco. Native Americans thought the area near Devil’s Gate to be haunted and they forbade their people from frequenting the spot. They also believe that this area would lead them to another dimension and people would disappear. Now some of the stories that I've have read are all very similar to one another but I am not sure how accurate they can be since I could not retrieve any newspaper stories just stories from other credible blogs. 

History of Devil's Gate Dam in Pasadena
Construction of Devil's Gate Dam 1920
More pictures of Devil's Dam Pasadena

According to research posted by Carol of Los Angeles Ghost Patrol:

“The Devil’s Gate’s notoriety continued to build through the mid-twentieth century with the disappearance of at least four children in the area. In August 1956, 13-year old Donald Lee Baker and 11-year old Brenda Howell went missing while riding their bicycles in the recreation area behind the dam. They were last seen alive on a Sunday evening but never returned home. Hundreds of volunteers searched the foothills of the San Gabriels, while Navy divers checked the reservoir. All that was found were their bicycles and Brenda’s jacket. Less than a year later in March 1957, 8-year old Tommy Bowman vanished while hiking with his family; he simply ran ahead, rounded a bend and disappeared. Again, search parties scoured the area, on foot and horseback as well as in helicopters. Three years later, 6-year old Bruce Kremen also vanished from the nearby YMCA camp. The boy was not feeling well and a camp counselor watched him walk back towards the camp, not more than 300 yards away. He never arrived.”

All these stories might be urban legends but I am sure there some true stories out there. Due to this current drought there is no water surrounding the dam, so you will not see any water if you go hike around this season. Some hikers have had problems and drowned due to floods so be careful when to go. The hike took us roughly a good 2 hours and 26 minutes but it involved a lot of stopping and creating our own trails to make it a little bit more difficult. We passed the Dam and continued through this tunnel which led to 210 freeway overpass, this hike and trail I believe continues on past Colorado Street Bridge (AKA: Suicide Bridge) I do strongly encourage any hikers to be careful with bugs and mosquitos.  Whether you’re into scary or haunted place this is a great hike that you can do without even following a specific trail.

Dam sign

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Hiking Adventure #2 Murphy Ranch

I have been to this site twice, once in November of 2013 and much recently the last week of June 2014. During the most recent trip to Murphy Ranch all of the ruins were surrounded by chain linked fences, but does not make it impossible to get in to, as they all have an easy access. The history behind this compound is really interesting and worth checking out. Some information that I accumulated on this through the internet  was that it was a old Nazi campground during the early 40's. A couple taking the alias of the Murphy's thought that they should create a ranch with the belief that the Nazi government was  going to take control over Europe and eventually bring the ideology to the United States. This establishment was raided by the U.S government right after Pearl Harbor and it is said that they found radios that were directly sending information to the Germans, one of the members was charged with espionage.

This YouTube video gives more historical details.

Murphy's Ranch
Sullivan Fire Rd
Los Angeles, CA 90272
Follow this road up through the gates that lead to Rustic Canyon,  up until you encounter the really old creepy gate! Its a good walk down the road!

Pictures from Hike November 2013

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Hiking Adventure #1 Turnbull Canyon

Address: Turnbull Canyon Rd Whittier, CA 90601

Turnbull Canyon, a hilly area between the suburbs of Whittier and Hacienda Heights, is well known for its urban legends.  Rumors of Satanic rituals, KKK meetings are well documented in other blogs such as

Other well known factual stories include murders and an airplane crash that killed 26 passengers in 1952.

Through out the day, these hills serve as a hiking trail to many SoCal residents.  This trail connects with two other trails: Hellsman Trail and Hacienda Heights Trail. (Previously done in the summer of 2013) In order to hike Turnbull Canyon you must park around Turnbull Canyon Road, and walk up towards the entrance. Everyone is pretty much hiking towards the same direction, so you can't get lost -- to the graffiti water tower. Overall it’s a 3.2mile loop with steady yet heavy elevation gain of 325 feet. As you reach to very top (water tower) you can see Rose Hills Cemetery and Downtown Los Angeles.