Hike Chantry’s Gabrielino for Wildflowers

Joanie hiking up the Gabrielino just prior to Hoegee’s Drop Off. That’s Indian paintbrush popping through the green. This spot is between Fern Lodge Junction and Falling Sign Junction.

Hike Chantry’s Gabrielino for wildflowers when you get a chance.   Try to do this sooner than later!  This well trod trail is also known by many Boy Scouts as the Silver Moccasin up until you arrive at Shortcut Canyon in the West Fork of the San Gabriel River, where the two trails go their separate ways.

Detail of Gabrielino Trail section, Chantry Flat – Mt. Wilson Trails map.

Look at hiking this trail section these last days of April and the next couple of weeks in May.  Recently my wife and I did the Falling Sign Loop, starting out from Fern Lodge Junction, heading up the Gabrielino (aka Stock Trail) to Falling Sign Junction.  We returned back down the Upper Falls Trail to Fern Lodge.  The loop’s only a couple of miles in length,  yet that one mile section of the Gabrielino between Fern Lodge and Falling Sign Junction will offer you not only wildflowers, but vibrant green fern beds, lush green grasses and the ever-present views over the Big Santa Anita and its’ countless little side canyons.

Springtime in the front country of the San Gabriel mountains wouldn’t be complete without Baby Blue Eyes. These delicate, low-lying beauties can be found during the Spring Easter season.
Close up of Bracken Fern taken along the Gabrielino Trail. Shady slopes and cliff faces are covered with the fresh, deep green fern beds.
Edible Miner’s lettuce grows in clumps along the moister sections of the front country canyons.


Big Leaf Canyon Maples & Baby Blue Eyes Abound on the Chantry Flats Trails

Posted on March 22, 2013 – Written by Chris Kasten

While out hiking this week, check out the newly opening leaves and flowers of the maples along side the stream side  trails that radiate out of Chantry Flats.  If you’re contemplating hiking up to one of L.A. County’s waterfalls, Sturtevant Falls is at its’ peak flow as of this writing.  A new season’s canopy of North America’s largest maple leaves are on their way.  In the open spaces of gentle sunlight and shade, look for freshly blossoming baby blue eyes.   These delicate, low flowers seem to signify the Easter season in the front country of the San Gabriel mountains.

New life emerges on this Big Leaf Canyon maple. Photo taken just upstream from Sturtevant Falls.

Maples (Acer macrophyllum), in particular, grace both the Winter Creek and Big Santa Anita Canyons.

The spans of their canopies can be vast, supported by large arching limbs.  Limbs covered with emerald green mosses that come alive after rain storms.  Our maples have at times been referred to as “water maples,”  especially back during the Great Hiking Era.  Charles Francis Saunders, in his classic “The Southern Sierra,”  written back in the 1920′s describes these elegant trees in this manner.  The times change, yet the plants and their capacity to evoke mood in us does not.  Maples and alders, together, create a mixed green canopy to shelter the canyon bottoms from the severe sunny heat of summer days.  The light under maples can take on a thick, translucent green / gold magic on late summer afternoons.   In the fall, their yellow and gold leaves seem to radiate their own light against the grays and dark greens of deep canyons.   In the summer time, when their sap runs, look for the dark and moist liquid seeping through openings in the bark and depositing in pockets at the base of some of the more mature trees.  Wikipedia makes mention that maple syrup can be created by our species here in the San Gabriel mountains.  Its’, flavor differing a bit from the traditional maple species of the northeastern U.S.  I have known no one who has actually cooked down the sap from these lovely trees and made it into syrup.  It takes approximately 35 gallons of sap to make one gallon of finished product!   When Joanie & I used to run Sturtevant’s Camp, we’d notice that the mules would nibble at the bark of the maples in the corral area while waiting for their return run back to Chantry Flats.   The fallen leaves were also a delicacy to our long-eared friends.

Baby Blue Eyes along the Gabrielino Trail.

Baby blue eyes (Nemophila menziesii)  are beginning to poke their little heads up through glades of miners’ lettuce and chick weed.   They’re visible along many places on the trail between Chantry Flats and Sturtevant’s Camp.  Of course, if you go up to Newcomb Pass, you’ll see them along the slopes taking in the mild spring sunshine.  They add the most beautiful dots of blue amongst the backgrounds of entangled greenery.  These delicate little flowers will blossom up through May and can sometimes be seen as late as June in protected, semi-shade along canyon bottoms.