www.hikewithvickster.webs.com - Overview: Started the day at about 7am and began the trail opposite of the crowds toward the Spruce Grove and Sturtevant Campground. By 8am, the sun was in full force and the heat was already bearing down, less than 2 miles into the hike. I had checked, at the end of the hike around 1pm and nearby Pasadena was 103 degrees. We definitely felt it as we climbed up toward Mt. Zion. Sturtevant Camp was a nice stop and a great place to top off your water supply (especially on a hot summer day like ours). The most amuzing part of this stop was that as we explored the buildings that make up the campground, we ventured into the kitchen and came across two dated Starbucks aprons (no pockets) - amuzing because the three of us hiking that day were trying to get away from work....yet Starbucks followed us on the trails (lol).
The heat brought the snakes out. Before reaching Sturtevant Campground, we came across this little thin green (garter like) snake with a bright orange underbelly (if you know what kind it is, please comment below, so I can update). Right after passssssssing Spruce Grove, we came across two rattlesnakes. One was being stubborn and didn't want to let us pass as he perched himself on a rock in the middle of the trail. I had to move him right off the trail, just so we could proceed. Less than 50 feet later, another rattlesnake sat less that 2 feet off the trail and was so well camoflauged with the dirt and leaves it lied on. The next snake we saw was a small garter snake that swam across the creek near the falls and lastly, another rattlesnake as we rounded out the 8.8 miles.
As a whole, this hike was so much fun, tiring, but fun! It took us on trails that followed the creek, took us above the falls (incredible view, but watch your step, its a long way down). For the most part, this is moderately strenuous hike that offers a lot of shade, but on a hot summer day, the ridges can be a scortcher. As a rule of thumb, check weather conditions in the area before headed out to hike. Wear sunscreen a hat and even consider a face net. Be cautious of the abundance of poison aok and don't forget to visit the falls (Sturtevant Falls).
History: (taken from plaque located on trail) "Roberts Camp 1912 to 1931, Otto Lynn Roberts, under permit from the forest service, built his first lodge (at designated location). Roberts, truly the canyon's most active promoter also constructed sleeping facilities surrounding the lodge to accomodate about 200 persons. Business was good. Newspapers reported July 4th, 1919 5,000 hikers passed through the canyon. Expanded lodge was built around 1920 which housed a kitchen and dining facilities on the upper floor. The lower contained a store, library and an official U.S. post office. The late 1920's showed a decline in hiking, which led to the eventual closing of the camp."
Get there early, 6:30am - 7am to avoid crowds and when possible, visit during the week. Be advised of the weather as a large portion of the hike is covered by tree canopy and can get a bit chilly even on slightly warmer days. Dress appropriately and stay hydrated, the constant view of flowing water and beauty can easily stray your mind from hydrating and nourishing your body.
This is a must stop on the loop. You will have to take a small detour, but its worth the extra mileage and worth dealing with the crowds. Take some time to grab lunch or a snack and relax to the ambiance.
Cabins dot the landscape on this end of the hike - be sure to read some of the history on marked plaques along the trail or visit http://hikewithvickster.webs.com/Los%20Angeles%20Hikes/ChantryLoop.htm for more information.