In honor of the Labor Day holiday, OSS'ers are invited to join Meetup's Earlybird Hiking Group for our weekly Monday evening outing, a happy mixture of fun, food, friends and a fine trail. We start at 5 pm in order to be finished up by about 7:30, before darkness sets in. That also ensures that everyone has time to drive back down the road before 8 pm, when the gate at the bottom of the hill is locked. We set a moderate pace, but you're welcome to come late and try to catch up to us during our mid-way potluck break at Hoegee Campground.
Hoegee Loop is a beautiful, lush, fairly easy loop hike from Chantry Flat in the San Gabriel Mountains above Arcadia. The trail features a gentle flowing stream with numerous easy rock-hop crossings, historical cabins and campgrounds, and a high-on-the-ridge final descent with sweeping views of nearby peaks and the LA valley below.
This is a low-intermediate hike of 5 miles and about 1,100 feet of elevation gain. From the parking lot, we'll head down a paved road for about a half mile, then turn left and go up Lower Winter Creek trail to Hoegee Campground, where we'll stop for a break amid the pines. Then we'll continue upstream a short distance to catch Upper Winter Creek trail and take it back down to the parking lot.
Chantry Flat parking requires an adventure pass. It's $5 for the day or $30 for the year, good at all LA-area National Forest sites. Passes can be purchased at many sporting goods stores, or online at http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/sanbernardino/ap/vendors.php . Passes are sometimes available at Chantry Flat, but that can be a bit unreliable on a Monday afternoon, so get one in advance.
To reach Chantry: From the 210, take the Santa Anita exit and go north 5 miles. Initially you'll be traveling through a neighborhood, but after about 1.5 miles, Santa Anita becomes a winding mountain road that ends at the parking lot. Allow about 15 minutes for drive time from the 210 to the lot and, this week only because of the holiday, allow yourself a little extra time to find parking. Ordinarily the lot is empty on Monday nights, but it gets VERY crowded on weekends and holidays. By 5 pm, though, most people will be leaving, so with some patience, you should be able to find a fairly close space. Be on time -- we'll hit the trail at 5:01 SHARP, so you should plan on arriving by 4:45 to give you time to park, get your gear together and find the group.
Because we need to set a reasonable pace, I would ask that you sign up for this hike only if you have at least a little hiking experience, or a reasonable fitness level from other aerobic activities. Novice hikers should be fine, but absolute beginners may struggle with the relatively minor elevation gain. I generally complete this loop in under two hours when I'm by myself. We'll slow it down and aim for 2.5 hours, but it's still a good workout at that pace. Five miles, 1,100 feet of vertical.
Friendly, socialized dogs are very welcome on this hike. Officially they must be on leash, and certainly that's true at the beginning and end, near the ranger station. My dog loves this hike and will undoubtedly lead our group all the way.