Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday Hike Day: Bridge to Nowhere {aka Heaton Flats Trail}, San Gabriel Mountains

Adventure Kids! 
The hiking trail is NOT for little ones or strollers. The trail head makes a great picnic spot and you can play in the river. The trail is high on the *challenge* scale due to length (4.4 miles TO the Bridge to Nowhere-8+ miles round trip), terrain (rocky) and cliff heights, river crossings, sun exposure and lack of trail markers--making the trail confusing.

 You WILL have to cross the river and hike in wet shoes UNLESS you take shoes/socks off and on and trade for water shoes. Choose how much inconvenience you're willing to endure: wet shoes or lots of off and on.

We hiked over, under, up, down, across, through...and 7 hours!
The lack of trail markers makes this hard. There are parts of the trail where you are walking through very rocky terrain in a 'general direction'and no visible 'trail'. The San Gabriel River keeps you company the entire time which is soothing, refreshing and nice. Crossing the river is not that easy at times, you MUST get in and the river bed and rocks can be slippery. Most crossing spots are shallow but some are deeper and slips and falls are a real risk.

Gold dredging tools.
Men panning for gold!
NO GPS or cell service on the mountain. Adventure Parking pass required. Internet says *hiking permit* (free) also required. I didn't bother but I can see how this would be a safety issue as getting lost could be a real concern, as well as various people *camping out* along the trail. There ARE actual people (we only saw males) PANNING for GOLD along the river. Though fascinating, their campsites along the way can give off a very creepy vibe, they may appear to be abandoned but are not. You will see mining tools such as buckets, shovels, tents, ropes and at one point, large trash bags with mysterious contents hanging from the trees...and pants, clothing etc. Use caution, as you would while approaching any stranger. Everyone we encountered was friendly or busy panning but others have had less-than-friendly exchanges.

Log  bridge river crossing.
We did NOT make it to the actual Bridge to Nowhere--we stayed along the river bed in confusion when we should have went UP the mountain/cliff side. There are parts of the trail that are EXTREMELY narrow and slippery. A few times, we were walking on a slippery cliff slope and not a trail at all. There are also rocky cliff sides. LOTS of sun. HYDRATE the day BEFORE, then bring MORE water than you think you would need. Keep in mind, your pack will be lighter on the way out--it's worth it! Sunblock and hat recommended, as well as *reapplication*. We used sunblock and ALL of us still got sunburned. The trail is even more confusing on the return...We started hiking around noon or a bit before...we returned to our cars at 7PM!!! Seriously.

Well balanced kids.
The good thing is the RIVER leads you in and out so if you DO feel lost, you can follow the river--even stay wading IN it--all the way back. The hike is great even if you don't make it to the Bridge...the water is nice to swim in at spots. Risk of poison oak is low but if it is what I think I saw--there IS some but it's not very close to the trail. There are some dry plants that are SPIKY--one teen in our group ended up with bloody cuts on his leg from the spikes but the rest of us avoided them with only occasional pokes.

Slightly treacherous.
San Gabriel River
Use caution and be safe, no shame in sitting and sliding down rocky points when necessary. Research online and print out the review that gives directions and 'visual'clues to look for...I think it was from hikespeak...though it's still a bit confusing, that helped us a TON to figure out and find the actual 'trails'.

I can't believe we hiked for 7 hours, minus a bit of time we stopped to refresh in the river and eat lunch on our way back. I am hoping we can go back sometime and actually find the bridge. The youngest ones were real troopers.

I liked this trail over all though I feel a bit beat up...I used to always hike in my flip flops but tired of people telling me I need to wear appropriate shoes or I could get really hurt. Well, since I started wearing real shoes, I've twisted my ankle twice! Fortunately they were only minor sprains but yesterday was one of those times. I have bruises on the back of one of my calves, I hit my knee on a boulder and I have minor scrapes around my ankles from the sand rubbing in my wet shoes...and then there's the sunburn.

I feel like it might be safer just to stick to my trusty flip flops. haha.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:50 PM

    You r truly an amazing person and great mom


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