Oak Grove Park to Bear Canyon Junction and Return - 20 miles. Difficuly: Moderate. NO WATER AVAILABLE.
This is it! My first long trail run in the San Gabriels in years. You may leave your car in Oak Grove Park in the Hahamonga Watershed Park and cross the Arroyo at the foot of JPL and head up the Gabrielino Trail into the National Forest to Oak Wilde Campground and beyond via Gould Mesa. The route is pleasantly shaded by oak and laurel and would make for a pleasant run even under hot conditions.. The trail skips to and fro over the creek which still serves as a major water source for Pasadena. The five miles from Oak Wilde to Switzer's is a good climb with impressive scenery and some steep drop offs into the canyon. The last half is largely exposed to the east without the pleasant tree cover of the lower altitudes so be prepared for heat here. If you decide that Switzer's is too much of an affort, you can turn around at Bear Canyon Junction about 2/3 of the way to Switzers from Oak Wilde. (I DON'T recommend trying Bear Canyon unless you have LOTS of time and water, and preferably a companion).
Gould Canyon, La Canada Trail, Lukens Connector Trail- 15 miles. Difficuly: Severe NO WATER AVAILABLE.
This route starts at Starbucks/Trader Joes on Gould Ave and Foothill Blvd and heads up one of Hampton Ave to a nice shaded bridal path that winds its way around the neighborhoods. After a mile or so it becomes the Gould Canyon Trail (probably a connector here somewhere over to Gould Mesa). This trail follows the creek through residences that become older and more rustic as the way progresses up the canyon, past a debris dam. At last the canyon trail passes under a big concrete bridge that I know to be Angeles Crest Highway and the sounds of the city and the drone of the 210 freeway will fade away to leave just the sound of your footsteps. At a trail junction a sign says that 0.9 miles to the west is the "Lukens Connector Trail". I used to run to Lukens regularly, but with a starting point at the trail head on the other side of the mountains off the Angeles Crest Highway. The .9 miles is uphill, but easy enough - then the real work begins. Be sure to look for a small clearing where there is a signpost, but no sign on it. On the east side beyond a beat up picnic table is the Connector Trail. The Trail is an EXTREMELY steep climb that quickly becomes unrunnable. You will probably use your hands in several places to balance and keep from falling. Fully exposed to the sun the climb quickly becomes a "character builder". After what seems an eternity, but is probably, in fact, less than a mile of misery, the trail opens onto a meadow with, of all things, a giant Indian style teepee at the edge overlooking the city. Turns out it is a boy scout retreat. On a clear day the view is spectacular with vistas of Catalina and Palos Verdes to the southwest and Saddle Peak in the Coast Range to the west. It's about five miles from the Teepee to Mt. Lukens, but be prepared. It is hot, exposed, uphill and there is NO WATER. There is a junction at one of the saddles before the last long grind up to Lukens that takes you to Grizzly Flats, an extablished pine plantation from the 60's - DOWN hill away from Lukens, but a nice side trip. The road also leads to Angeles Crest Highway and is one of the eastern approaches to Lukens.
El Prieto, Lower Brown Mountain Road to Ken Burton Trail to Oakwilde then back via the Gabrielino Trail. 17.5 Miles. Difficuly: Moderate. NO WATER AVAILABLE
This run starts at Oak Park as well and heads up the Arroyo, branching to the right at the Ranger residences following the sign toward Brown Mountain Road. Another 1/4 mile and El Prieto Trail branches to the left. El Prieto is generally shaded, and while not easy, it is not a killer either. The trail criss crosses the small creek and zigs around the debris dams that are interspersed in the canyon. El Prieto comes out on Lower Brown Mountain Road. Brown Mountain was named for Owen and Jason Brown, sons of famous Civil War abolitionist, John Brown. The Brown cabin ruins as well as the grave of Owen Brown can be found nearby. In fact, Owen Brown once worked for Professor Lowe, the visionary who designed the Mt. Lowe Railway! After hitting Brown Mountain Road, bear left to the Ken Burton trail junction. Signs will direct you west to the Ken Burton Trail. The scenery is great. Reaching the saddle where the Ken Burton Trail begins it's a two and one half mile drop down to Oakwilde some 1000 feet below. The trail does not appear to be maintained well and is quite overgrown in sections. If you don't like bush whacking, this route would have to be an out and back to the saddle. Oakwilde back to Oak Grove Park is pleasant and shaded and makes for a nice finish to the run if you are hot and tired.