Monday, April 18, 2011

Photo Essay: Coldwater Canyon, or Life Among the Tree People

I first stumbled upon Coldwater Canyon while hiking through Wilacre Park, and was totally baffled how I'd gotten there or how to find my way back, other than turning around and transforming my loop trail into an out-and-back.

I returned to that junction this weekend, having approached from Coldwater Canyon, and I finally understood how the two parks coexist, practically overlapping at one overlook.

Unlike Wilacre, Coldwater is a tree-filled, shady canyon park with a soft, mulchy train underfoot, a quiet, cool escape on a hot sunny day.

I started off on the Magical City Forest Trail...



...and headed down to the Barker Fire Road, which turns into the Oak Trail.





I then hit the Betty Dearing Trail, which runs through both Coldwater Canyon and Wilacre Park as well as Fryman Canyon.



I tried to find my way down to the Toyon Trail or the Torrey Pines Trail, but the trail map doesn't do a very good job of indicating the different levels of trails, making them look like they're next to each other when one is actually above the other. So I circled the Cistern and Conference Center a few times...



...before turning down Lloyd's Walk...







...and back to the Magical City Forest Trail.



Back to the parking lot, I found the trailhead for the Toyon Trail...



...ambling past more trees...





...and up to the Torrey Pines Lookout Area, where I stopped for a breather.



The Torrey Pines Trail signage warned of dangerous conditions, but I only encountered one mudslide, which had hardened and become tightly packed from all of the foot traffic, so I walked right over it...



...past wildflowers...





...up to the Oak Mesa...



...and back down through the shade to my car.



It's a hike I should have done a year ago, when searching for quick and easy trails near my meetings. This weekend, after all the hiking I did in Joshua Tree the weekend before, I felt like I was cheating a bit. But the completionist in me was happy to hit another of LA's urban parks, and to finally be able to do pretty much all of it, nearly every part of every trail.

I know I've only been in LA two months. I know I've got a lot of time to explore. But there is so much to explore.

To become a fan on Facebook, click here.