Friday, January 22, 2016

Friday Hike Day: Dawn Mine, Alta Dena

Celebrating our 52nd hike of the 52 Hike Challenge, inside Dawn Mine! 

We returned to Millard Canyon...after our Millard Falls hike last week, we wanted to try and find Dawn Mine again and we did!  Parking requires an Adventure Pass ($5). There is very little parking at Sunset Ridge. If it's full, you can drive down to Millard Campground parking lot...but that will add about a mile or so to your hike, to get back up. There are no restrooms at Sunset Ridge or along the trail to Dawn Mine, however, there are 2 vault toilet restrooms at Millard Campground. Try not to look and hold your breath if you can. 

Entrance to the fire road at Sunset Ridge.
If you are able to park at Sunset Ridge, your hike will begin by entering the fire road, past the closed gate. Shortly after you will reach a peak with a trail head to the left and a map and log book to the right. The map will offer a rough view of the variety of trails offered and historical content. DO NOT take the trail to the left. The trail to the left will lead you down to Millard Campground OR up from the campground if you parked below.

Trail markers to keep an eye out for: colored ribbons, spray painted arrows and piled rocks. 
Continue along the fire road until you reach the second hiking trail sign. That is the trail you want to follow. It is obvious for awhile at first. You will eventually hear and see Millard Falls off in the distance on your left. Eventually you will reach a fork, on the right are stairs--DO NOT go that way. Stay to the left. 

Where is the trail? Notice the pink marker ribbon?
*This pic compliments of my hiking partner/co-Adventure Mom, Tisha.
I strongly suggest researching the trail conditions before you go. It tends to be tricky and even disappear at times. Thankfully, hikers who have gone before have left trail markers but you have to be aware and look for them. There are times where there is simply NO trail. Hiking in a group, besides being fun, will help find the trail markers--the more eyes the better.

The trail can be intense and I don't recommend it for inexperienced young children or out of shape adults. You will be crossing the stream at times, it's always refreshing to hike near water. There is plenty of lush greenery right now. It gets tougher though as the trail begins to disappear. 

The actual entrance to the mine is hidden behind a rock with an X on it. You must squat down to enter. 
You WILL have to climb up and over small and large boulders, cliff faces as well as up and over or under fallen trees and logs. The actual mine is hidden behind the rock face of the canyon. There is a spray painted X that marks the spot. Walk behind the X rock and voila!

The initial corridor of the mine has logs on top of water. The logs are helpful but precarious.
You must squat down to enter the mine. Once through the wooden beam entrance, you will crouch down, crossing the water on precarious, rolling logs and beams. At the end of the first corridor, the mine opens up enough to stand--there will be a fork ahead of you where the mine splits. You will also find a log book and a map.

Ceiling of the mine, This was a shaft that went upwards, with a beam across it. 

To the right is a pool, said to be 55 ft deep. To the left is a tunnel that features a shallow, ankle deep pool initially, then puddles. There was a beam and a rope on the left of the deep pool. It's precarious but cross-able. Then a short stint of puddles before the water rises and it gets about knee deep.

There were other hikers in the mine with us and we let them go ahead. We stopped after crossing the deep pool but there is supposed to be a water fall farther along. We were not interested in taking off our shoes or getting all wet. Taking the mine tunnel to the left will lead to a definitive end. Don't forget to look up...there are shafts that go upward and with a flashlight, are very cool to look at. We did not pursue it, but there is another mine shaft entrance above this one. You must rock climb and it IS dangerous. It is said, that mine shaft is dry.

We saw a bobcat! It scrambled up the side of the rocky canyon, scared by the teens of our group, ahead of us. It blends in so well, it's hard to see.
We rate this hike high on the adventure scale due to the mine and the intensity of the hike.  Also, presume the mine to be dangerous and unstable. Venture at your own risk.The great thing is the beginning and therefore the way back, is actual trail and pretty flat so it makes the ending soft.

On our way back we caught sight of a bobcat! That was exciting for a minute. Most of the teenage Adventure Kids were ahead of us...I believe they scared it up the canyon with out even knowing. They missed it but I saw it running up the canyon first. It blended in so well, it was hard to see once it landed on it's perch, unless it moved.

A blue feather.

The trail is absolutely gorgeous right now. When you arrive as Sunset Ridge--I suggest parking head in, instead of parallel to the mountain. This will allow more room for other cars. The parking area is VERY limited and there are no parking signs everywhere-pay attention to signage. I encourage you to check out Instagram for ideas, tips and great pix. I found out about this hike via other Instagram hikers.

Enjoy your week.
See you next Friday! 

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