02 January 2013

A New Year's Hike Above Carbon Canyon

The little-used portion of Chino Hills State Park north of Carbon Canyon Road and above Olinda Village doesn't have the attractiveness and isolated feeling of much of the older, larger portion of the park to the south and east, but it has its moments.

This view looks northeast towards Mount Baldy and its neighboring peaks, Ontario and Cucamonga.

For one, because it is far less traveled, a hiker can enjoy a generally greater level of solitude.  Second, there are some striking views from several vantage points, especially those of the San Gabriel Mountains to the north that can take in a vast portion of that main range of peaks and also those of the Puente Hills and San Gabriel Valley to the northwest that cannot be had in the other section of the park.

The visitor does have to contend with more of the surrounding and trappings (this can be taken literally) of the urban world around the park, though.  Power lines, communication towers and the relative nearness of houses at Olinda Village (which in various places, however, disappears from view) are more pronounced here. 

As the trail climbed further northwest, Olinda Village receded from view and the recently-added portion of the state park (midcenter) and the larger, older section of the park in the background came into prominence.

New Year's Day was a gorgeous one.  After a cold morning, the afternoon proved to be just under 60 degrees and it was clear inland with some overcast conditions on the coast.  Views in all directions were quite good and the lightly-dusted snow-capped peaks of Mt. Baldy, Ontario Peak, Cucamonga Peak, Mt. San Gorgonio, and Mt. San Jacinto, among others, were clearly visible.  Recent rain, though not substantial, provided a thin carpet of green on the surrouding Chino and Puente Hills, as well as on the smaller mountains in the Santa Ana Mountains range to the south.

A short, but decently ascending and descending, hike of four miles round trip led two adults and two elementary school-age kids up a utility easement road, with some narrow trails, usually used by horses as well as hikers, up from Olinda Village to a tall communications tower just behind the furthest reaches of the Olinda Alpha Landfill.  Passed, not far into the jaunt, was a new horse stable still in process of construction and which was not there a year or two back, when an earlier walk was made.  In fact, a couple of riders, leading a miniature horse, were taking the opportunity for a nice ride along the same route.

This shot to the southwest looks over the plains of Orange County looking toward the Pacific Ocean.  The top slopes of the hills of Santa Catalina Island were visible a little later.

Starting a 3:30, the leisurely walk took about two hours and darkness descended as the group did.  No wildlife, aside from birds, were seen, though a group of coyotes made themselves amply heard from some point off to the west.  But, the views, as noted above, were excellent, the air crisp and clean, and the almost-complete solitude welcomed.

Unfortunately, there were occasional glances to the east, past the water towers northeast of Olinda Village, where the specter of the 162-unit Madrona housing project casts somewhat of a pall on the New Year.  The fire-prone wildlands in this area, which burned nearly completely just over four years ago, has its beauty in the winter, but can be parched and wind-prone elsewhere in the year. 

Looking north from the stopping point at a communications tower, the eastern San Gabriel Valley, long stretches of the San Gabriel Mountains and the farthest reaches of the Olinda Alpha Landfill came into view.

The idea (whether it actually comes to fruition) of all those houses in the midst of the parkland and remaining privately-held open space will certainly make any hikes in the northern part of Chino Hills State Park a lot less desirable and meaningful.

In the meantime, there is much to enjoy about this sliver of the park embedded within a teeming
metropolitan region.

On the way back down, the clouds look alight with flame as the sun smoldered on the horizon.


Anonymous said...

Nicely written. Thanks for the journey!

This is an amazing little enclave, with a feeling of such ruralness amid 14 million souls inhabiting miles in all directions!

May God bless us all.

Canyon Native said...

The views are indeed lovely, but the future is uncertain. We hope you and other residents of Carbon Canyon will speak out forcefully to stop the Madrona (aka Canyon Crest)by sending comments to the City of Brea by January 22 and attending the public hearings that will follow this spring. We can't lose this beautiful land to more of the same houses. We don't have more land.

prs said...

Hello Anonymous, thanks for the nice comment about this post. It is a relatively-hidden gem and your stopping by is appreciated.

prs said...

Hi Canyon Native, there will be definitely be a comment coming soon to the city on the Madrona (Canyon Crest) project. The expansive view to the east, including glimpses of the snow-covered San Gorgonio and San Jacinto peaks, will be effective ruined by the development on top of the myriad reasons why Madrona should not be approved. More on this blog soon about this.