Dusk along the south flank of Mount Lukens.
Mount Lukens, towering above the Deukmejian Wilderness Park, is a hiker's challenge that is rewarded with spectacular views of the Los Angeles basin and western San Gabriel Mountains, and a fascinating geologic history dominated by recent earthquakes, active faults, and devastating mud and debris flows that remain a hazard to the residents of the Crescenta Valley. Mount Lukens (5,075 feet) is the highest point within the city of Los Angeles. With many portions of the city at sea-level, it's the only large city in the USA with such an extreme elevation difference, and the result of our very active geologic setting in southern California. The south flank of Mount Lukens and the range front were the sources for the deadly Montrose "Flood" that occurred New Year's Day 1934 and, as is usually the case, followed a large brush fire the previous November. The "Flood" was really a sequence of large mud and debris flows that gave little warning, occurred in the darkness of the first few hours of the new year, and resulted in at least 45 deaths and the destruction of several hundred homes and cars.
The peak is named after Theodore Parker Lukens, a local businessman, former supervisor of the Angeles National Forest and later a Pasadena mayor, and personal friend of naturalist John Muir. Lukens was an early advocate for conservation in the local mountains and was instrumental in establishing the Henniger Flats forest nursery in 1903. In the 1800s and early 1900s Mount Lukens was called Sister Elsie Peak in honor of a Catholic nun who died during a smallpox epidemic caring for the sick.
This is really two hikes in sequence and you can do both or just one: First, I will be leading an easy 1.7 mile long, 475 ft elevation gain geology hike that starts at 9:00 AM from the Deukmejian Wilderness Park on Saturday, February 6th, for the City of Glendale. Along the hike I will point out and discuss many of the geologic features of the front range of the San Gabriel Mountains such as faults and rock types, show how to read a geologic map, and review the geologic history. I have reserved 12 spots for the Weekday Trailblazers with the City.
Second, following the geology hike we will be doing a more difficult loop route to the top of Mount Lukens and back. This hike starts at the Deukmejian Wilderness Park at 11:30 AM; we will ascend Mount Lukens via the Crescenta View Trail, and descend via the Haines Canyon Motorway and the Rim of the Valley Trail. It is 4.4 miles with 2660 ft elevation gain to the mountain top via the Crescenta View Trail. The trail is well used and easy to follow, but it's steep, with little vegetation cover. If one is in good shape, then elevation is gained very quickly, and for those catching their breath there are dramatic views to the south of the Crescenta Valley, Verdugo Range, Los Angeles basin, Pacific Ocean with Catalina Island, possibly Santa Barbara Island, and Santa Monica Mountains.
Looking uphill, the summit of Mount Lukens is easily recognizable, with its mantle of television, radio, and cellular transmission towers. Near the ridge crest the trail joins the Mount Lukens Truck Trail, a dirt road, and our route heads west (left) up the road to the top of Mount Lukens. We will take a short break at the top and enjoy the views. To the north and northeast we will see the rugged Tujunga drainage basin, Mount Josephine, Strawberry Peak, and in the far distance, Mount Baldy.
Following our break we will descend via the Haines Canyon Motorway for about 1 mile, take a left onto the Rim of the Valley Trail that follows the western ridge line of Cooks Canyon. We will descend into the well shaded canyon and cross the small, but usually flowing, creek several times, hike out of the canyon, turn right onto the Le Mesnager Loop Trail. From there it is less than 1 mile back to the Deukmejian Wilderness parking area. Our descent from Mount Lukens to the parking area will be an additional 6.0 miles. If past similar events are a good measure then we will have a much smaller group for the Mount Lukens hike. The total hiking for the day will be 11.5 miles and a little over 3,000 ft elevation gain. After the hike there will be the opportunity for a celebratory early dinner and drinks at a local restaurant in Montrose.
Difficulty and conditions: The geology hike is easy, short, and with lots of stops so you can listen to me blabber-on about the geology. Last year I had about 35 participants, so initially it will be a bit of a mob. We should be done with the geology hike by 11:30 AM, back at the parking area, and ready to start the Mount Lukens hike. This hike is much longer, steeper, and with considerable elevation gain. If you want to do this hike you need to be in good shape and frequently do hikes with at least 10 miles distance and several thousand feet of elevation gain. Weather in early February should be moderate (60-70 degrees); however, it could be windy and cool towards the top (40-60 degrees): wear layers and definitely bring a jacket or sweater.
Bring: lunch, snacks to share, at least three liters of water, day pack, jacket or sweater, rain shell or poncho, boots, hat, sunglasses, sunblock, cell phone, flashlight, and a small first-aid kit. It's recommended that you wear long pants and a long sleeve shirt or top due to abundant brush along the trails and the potential for sun burn.
Car Pooling and Parking: We will be car pooling from the Park and Ride at 265 South Rancho Road, Thousand Oaks (just south of 101 Fwy) to the Deukmejian Wilderness Park in Glendale. Alternatively you can drive separately and meet us in front of the large barn at the Park (3429 Markridge Rd, Glendale, CA 91214) at 8:45 AM for the geology hike, or at 11:30 AM for the Mount Lukens hike . Please do not leave anything of value in your car.
Questions/comments: Thom Davis,[masked]
Barn at the Deukmejian Wilderness Park.
Route image showing geology hike in Deukmejian Park along the Le Mesnager Loop Trail (lower left small loop), followed by the ascent and descent of Mount Lukens (larger loop). Total hiking=11.5 miles and +3,000 ft elevation gain.
The south flank of Mount Lukens is dominated by two large drainages: Cooks Canyon on the left and Dunsmore Canyon on the right. Our Mount Lukens hike will start at the Deukmejian Wilderness Park at the mouth of Dunsmore canyon (lower left), climb along the east (right) ridge line of Dunsmore canyon via the Crescenta View Trail, reach Mount Lukens, descend southwestward (left) via the Haines Canyon Truck Trail, and swing back to the east via the Rim of the Valley Trail and into Cooks Canyon, join the Le Mesnager Loop Trail, and return back to Dunsmore Canyon and the Deukmejian Wilderness Park.
All of the hike is within the burn area of the 2009 Station Fire, a massive, arson caused blaze that lasted for nearly two months, caused the deaths of two LA County firemen, destroyed 209 homes, and burnt 161,000 acres.
View east from Mount Lukens' east ridge showing Strawberry Peak (conical peak in middle ground) and snow covered Mount Baldy in the background.
Route profile showing both the geology hike (small bump and valley on left) and the loop hike to the top of Mount Lukens via the Crescenta View Trail and return via the Haines Canyon Motorway and Rim of the Valley Trails. Route starts and ends in the Deukmejian Wilderness Park (total=11.5 miles and +3,000 ft elevation gain).
View the Glendale parks trail map (go to 2d page) @ http://www.glendaleca.gov/home/showdocument?id=118 Trail
Read about the loop trail using the Rim of the Valley trail to Mount Lukens and return via the Crescenta View trail @ http://myown100hikes.blogspot.com/2013/01/hike-2013002-mt-lukens-via-rim-of.html . Note: this is a recent good description of the route with photos, but we will be doing the loop in the opposite direction, i.e., Crescenta View trail to Mount Lukens first.
WEEKDAY TRAILBLAZERS DISCLAIMER / RELEASE OF LIABILITY
IMPORTANT, PLEASE READ BELOW IN ITS ENTIRETY:
The hike host is a volunteer and not responsible for the group. Safety should be a priority for everyone in the group. Please treat this meet-up as hiking with a group of friends. If you become fatigued and unable to continue the hike, it is expected you will advise the hike host of this and return to our starting point on your own. If you are able to proceed, it is expected that you will maintain line of sight with other members of the group at all times and help to promote the group’s safety and fitness goals.
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