Bridge To Nowwhere, San Gabriel Mountains, California

20151114_095042_resizedOutside of Southern California, the phrase “bridge to nowhere” brings to mind a contested national embarrassment. For outdoor-loving Angelinos, Bridge to Nowhere is the affectionate name of a local treasure. You’ll find excessive fun, not government spending, on this 10-mile round trip hike with 900 feet of elevation gain.

20151114_073734_resizedThere are several river fords on the trail to the abandoned bridge, along with opportunities to stop and swim. Dedicate at least six hours to completing this hike. An easy-to-acquire wilderness permit is required to hike to the Bridge to Nowhere, as well as a national forest day use pass !

media_b5a803abeb56cbc7a4528fb226a57b5e_resizedIt was actually a lack of financial investment, and not the opposite, that created LA’s Bridge to Nowhere. Constructed in 1936 over a gap carved by the East Fork of the San Gabriel River, the bridge would serve as a link in a roadway between the San Gabriel Valley to the south and Wrightwood to the north. That is until the spring of 1938, when a massive flood changed the landscape of the canyon and washed out the road leading to the bridge. The road was never restored and construction was abandoned. The bridge remains, isolated deep in the San Gabriel Mountains.

media_c95cfbd342d13065106be80c16541405_resizedThe trail to the Bridge to Nowhere is mostly gradual with some rugged terrain and rock scrambling. Wading through thigh to waist high water is unavoidable (at least in wet months) so pack appropriate footwear. Hiking boots, water shoes, and a towel is the best combination. There are a minimum of four river crossings on the hike up the canyon. Trekking in wet shoes is not idea, and while it is tedious to change your footwear throughout the hike, your feet may thank you.

media_9b578a1d5fe217b715ccce71e531398c_resizedDon’t be surprised if the trailhead is crowded. This is a popular hike, and people also park here to picnic and swim in the nearby river. Arrive early, and prepare to leave your vehicle along the road leading to the trailhead if the lot is full.


ADDRESS: Camp Bonita Road, San Gabriel Mountains, Azusa, CA 91702



Mentryville, Newhall, California.


2015-12-06 08.43.28_resizedLocated at the base of Pico Canyon’s chaparral-dominated slopes, Mentryville was an 1880’s oil boom town built around its oil well, Pico No. 4. Named for Charles Alexander Mentry, the oil well’s tenacious driller—and later superintendent of the company that would become Chevron.

20151205_135852_resizedMentryville was home to over 100 families until the early 1930’s. Pico No. 4 went on to become the longest continually operating oil well in the world, closing in 1990.

20151205_140551_resizedHistoric buildings still stand including Charles Mentry’s grand thirteen-room mansion, a one-room school house, and a period barn. Mentryville and Pico No. 4 are registered as California State Historical Landmarks.

Screenshot_2016-01-10-09-29-43-1_resized (1)Mentryville and the surrounding canyons became popular shooting locations for films and television shows, including Lassie movies, The Color Purple, the X-Files, Murder, She Wrote, and Big Love.

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Address: 27201 Pico Canyon Road, Newhall, California.


Chumash Native American Museum & Village ~ Ventura County, California.



PHOTO: Wishtoyo Chumash Indian Village, Malibu.

The Chumash are a maritime culture, known as hunters and gatherers heavily dependent on marine resources. Their canoes, tomols, enable them to fish and trade, traveling up and down the coast to other villages. Tomols are usually constructed from redwood logs.


The Chumash were not dependent upon farming, as were other Native American tribes. Acorns, seeds, bulbs, roots and nuts were abundant, as were fish, wild game, including bears, seals, otters, shellfish, deer and rabbits.


PHOTOS: Chumash Indian Museum, Thousand Oaks.

Chumash homes called aps are constructed of local plant materials of willow and tule. Baskets and mats are woven, and bones and plants are used for tools and clothing.

20151121_130101The Chumash are extremely innovative and resourceful, and find uses for everything that was and is available, including each part of almost every plant.

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Chumash rock art is a genre of paintings on caves, mountains, cliffs, or other living rock surfaces, created by the Chumash people of southern California.


Pictographs and petroglyphs are common through interior California.


The rock painting tradition thrived until the 19th century. Chumash rock art is considered to be some of the most elaborate rock art tradition in the region


The Chumash culture was one of the most unique and advanced in the continent, and there is much to learn from a people who understand the relationship between humankind and earth’s natural resources;


they revere the natural world, for they know life depends on it for survival.



Chumash Museum
3290 Lang Ranch Pkwy
Thousand Oaks, CA 91362


Wishtoyo Chumash Village
Nicholas Canyon County Beach Park
33904 Pacific Coast Hwy
Malibu, CA 90265



Wagon Wheel Restaurant and Bowling Alley. Oxnard, California.

(2005 photo 2005 photo of the Wagon Wheel Office and Restaurant, Oxnard, CA, USA.

The Wagon Wheel Motel and Restaurant was a famous office, motel and restaurant complex located in Oxnard, California, at the intersection of U.S. Route 101 and Pacific Coast Highway. Its convenient roadside location near the historic community of El Rio made it a popular stop for travelers between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, particularly during its heyday in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

5797318780_18e96bc476Wagon Wheel Motel and Restaurant, Oxnard, California

It was considered to be an authentic extant example of American roadside architecture from the mid-century. The ranch-style office, motel and restaurant were originally built on the side of Highway 101 and Highway 101A (Alternate) in 1947. The office/restaurant complex incorporates a variety of roof lines, primarily low to medium pitched gables covered with wood shingles and punctuated by several decorative cupolas with weather vanes, and neon lighting.

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A free-standing 12-unit, two-story motel addition was completed in 1953. One of the most recognizable features of the motel was the giant neon sign that included an animated stagecoach driver and galloping horses.

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The Wagon Wheel Bowling Alley, 2801 Wagon Wheel Road is a 32-lane bowling alley built in the Wagon Wheel Junction across the street from the Wagon Wheel Motel in 1953.


Designed by the Beverly Hills architect, Arthur Froehlich, known for his mid-century supermarkets and racetracks including the Hollywood Park Racetrack, and the Hanna Barbera Studio in Los Angeles 1962.

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The building has planer wall surfaces, an over-scaled wing wall and plate glass windows; the bowling alley included a restaurant and banquet room and is an example of the type of reductive Modernism that enjoyed great popularity in the mid-century.

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ADDRESS:  2801 Wagon Wheel Road  Oxnard, California.



Llano Del Rio Ghost Town, Antelope Valley, California.



The desert east of Los Angeles is speckled with ghost towns, but none likely has a more interesting history than Llano Del Rio, a socialist commune settled by Job Harriman in 1915.



The Llano del Rio Colony settled in the southern edge of the Mojave Desert along Highway 138 near what is now 165th Street East, in the alluvial plain that spread out to the north from the San Gabriel Mountains.


The colony took advantage of water from Big Rock Creek, an intermittent stream that flowed from the San Gabriel Mountains.


Several structures were constructed using local granite boulders and lumber, including a hotel, meeting house, and water storage tank. There was also a small open aqueduct made of granite cobbles and cement.


Now all that remains of Llano Del Rio are a few chimneys, walls and foundations. Look north while driving down Highway 138 and you’ll see them.


The remnants of the built features are still visible at the site, which has been abandoned for decades.

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In Greek the word “utopia” sounds like “good place” but literally means “no place.” Seems like the right word for a socialist ghost town.


ADDRESS:  Pearl Blossom Highway, California State Route 195 GPS 34°30′23.3″N117°49′37.5″W


Boney Mountain ~ Thousand Oaks, California.


This hike includes some breathtaking up-close views of the shear rock faces of Boney mountain.


PHOTO: Over 150 archeological sites have been found indicating both permanent and transient occupation of the area by Chumash Native Americans.


Follow the Satwiwa Loop trail west past a pretty pond, then bear right at a quarter mile and head toward the Boney Mountain Trail across the open grassland.


Go left on the Boney mountain trail and follow above sycamore canyon to where it drops into the base of the canyon to a lovely waterfall a few hundred yards past the Hidden Valley Trail junction.


Backtrack to the Boney Mountain trail and continue upwards towards the Danielson Monument, bearing left at a trail marker pointing towards the monument.


From the monument/old cabin site, head south for about 1 mile to a stunning overlook of Boney Mountain, which is our turn-around point. You will see a bench like rock on the trail with an unforgettable view of the rock faces. Note that this last section of trail is very steep and it is not maintained, so use caution. Some hikers may want to continue on to the tri-peaks area.


ADDRESS: Lat:34.15322 Lon:-118.96565

From Highway 101/Ventura Freeway in Newbury Park, exit on Wendy Drive. Drive 2.5 miles south to Lynn Road and turn right. Continue a mile or so, then just past Reino road turn left into Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa Park on the left side of the road.


Castle Rock to Bluff Lake, Big Bear Lake, California.

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Castle Rock Trail is a 1.6 mile out and back trail located near Big Bear Lake, California that features a great forest setting.

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Although it’s not a long hike, the elevation gain is 500 feet, making it a steep climb by any standards.

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From here its 0.5 of a mile of a steep trail then it levels out for another 0.5 of a mile of less steep trail. Castle Rock is a large 100 ft outcropping from immediately east of the saddle.  This trail offers spectacular views of the lake and an opportunity to see pines, white fir trees and cedars.
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Bluff Lake Reserve is Located at 7,600 feet, Bluff Lake Reserve has towering pines, a 20-acre lake and meadow, and majestic outcrops of quartz monzonite.

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The reserve includes Southern California’s finest intact mountain marsh and meadow complex that contains the federally threatened Bear Valley bluegrass (Poa atropurpurea), the federally endangered Big Bear checkerbloom (Sidalcea pedata) and California dandelion (Taraxacum californicum).


PHOTOS: Abandoned Stone Cottage from the early 1900’s!


Botanically the meadow is remarkable with 16 species of sedges (Carex), eight species of wire grass (Juncus) and 14 species of native grass. Mature forests of lodgepole pine, Jeffrey pine, and white fir surround the meadow. You may recognize the scenery as the location of the original Disney movie “Parent Trap,” and “Dr. Dolittle 2.”


LOCATION: GPS N34 14.202, W116 57.704


Southwest corner of Big Bear Lake.  From the 210 Freeway, take Highway 330 northeast for 15 miles to Highway 18 at Running Springs.  Head east on Highway 18 for 12.4 miles to the intersection with Highway 38 at the western end of Big Bear Lake.  Stay right and drive 1.2 miles to a turnout on the left side of the road.


Mount Lowe Railway Trail aka Echo Mountain ~ Altadena, California.


The Mount Lowe Railway was created as a scenic tourist line to bring visitors to see Mount Lowe and Echo Mountain.


The railway opened in 1893 and stopped services in 1938. Interestingly, the railway was the only scenic mountain electric traction (overhead electric trolley) railroad in the country.


Another of its features was the remarkable incline up Rubio Canyon to the Echo Mountain House, and a circular bridge that was as an engineering landmark in itself.

Today the Mount Lowe Railroad Trail offers access to the ruins at Echo Mountain and the Alpine Tavern (Mt. Lowe Camp), once frequented by LA tourists and subsequently destroyed by flooding and fire.


Along the trial you’ll find historical markers that relate the story of the rail line.

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The trail is quite sinuous as snakes through the Angeles National Forest, offing superb views of the mountain, canyons and surrounding pine forests.

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Lake & East Loma Alta Drive. Altadena, California 91001


Cobb Estate aka Haunted Forest ~ Altadena, California.

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In Altadena, four miles north of the 210 freeway at the end of Lake Avenue, lies a 107-acre playground for hikers and explorers called the Cobb Estate.

Some may know it as the “haunted forest” thanks to rumors of after-dark apparitions,


But to others, it’s a retreat from the city life where you can hike up to the ruins of an early 1900s vacation spot or explore part of Angeles Crest Forest.


The land wasn’t exempt from the reaches of Hollywood — It was once owned by the Marx Brothers.


ADDRESS:  Lake & East Loma Alta Drive. Altadena, California 91001

MtLoweTrail Map

Corralitas Red Car Railway Path Property ~ Los Angeles, California.


Once upon a time the “CREEPY” Corralitas Red Car Property belonged to America’s largest electric railway, whose historic big Red Cars connected our sprawling city. Today the area—tucked between the Glendale Freeway and the hills of Silver Lake—is a stretch of land just eerie enough to make a spooktacular urban hike.


Park at the intersection of Lake View Avenue and Allesandro Way, where you’ll see a paved path running alongside a chain-link fence. When you come to the canyon, cut left into it, heading down a dark and grassy path lined with giant overturned trees with exposed roots. You’ll pass by a handful of backyards before entering a small parking lot that becomes a treeless dirt road.


Continue along the route that the big Red Cars once took, where the sound of today’s freeway traffic could almost be the rumble of that train of yore. This stroll is an easy one, so if you need an added challenge, head up the stairwell that will appear on your left and invites seven flights of extra exertion. Afterwards, return to the path, which gets grassy again before ending abruptly, overlooking the busy intersection of Fletcher and Riverside.


Here you’ll find remnants of an aqueduct, a handful of concrete blocks in the ground that could be mistaken for gravestones.


These cement structures are all that’s left of a 100-foot tall trestle bridge that spanned between the two hills.


ADDRESS: 2299 Allesandro Way, Los Angeles, California.