Another week, another weekend volleyball tournament. This one would be in the
Anaheim/Irvine area of Southern California. With Mom and daughter flying down
later in the week, I decided to head down early to do some hikes around Soledad
Canyon between Santa Clarita and the San Gabriel Mtns. On the drive down today
I stopped for a few minutes at San Luis Reservoir, the fifth
largest in the state, located east of Pacheco Pass along SR152. It was the first
time in 6-7 years that I've seen the reservoir full. Continuing south on my way
to my sister's place in Santa Clarita, I stopped for a couple of short
"leg stretchers", to help break up the drive a bit.
Located south of Tejon Pass near Gorman, Mt. Pines is found within the Hungry
Valley SVRA, an exceedingly easy summit. I paid the $5 vehicle day-use fee
and drove about half a mile on Gold Hill Rd to the base of the "mountain" on
its north side. The area sees mostly OHVs and motorcycles, but few hikers.
The lady at the booth had looked at me a little funny when I said I wanted to
hike. "Are you familiar with the trails?" she asked. I told her I was, a little
embarrassed to say I was doing a half mile hike and then leaving.
Gorman Trail is a motorcycle route going up the north side of Mt. Pine,
then traversing east without actually reaching the summit. A bit of easy
cross-country gets you to the highpoint without much trouble. Though
the highpoint is buried some under a brushy tree, there are good views
from either side, overlooking the OHV area to the north and
south, with Frazier Mtn to the west sporting some snow.
Happily, no one ran me over during the visit.
Reservoir BM / Reservoir Hill
These two are located on the east side of Interstate 5 overlooking Pyramid Lake
on the west side. The better approach is to drive up the Old Ridge Route, the
precursor to the Golden State Fwy, which itself was the precursor to Interstate
5. The road is rough and not suitable for low clearance, but it practically
goes to the summit and makes the effort a few minutes instead of a few hours.
I wanted to approach from the freeway near the Visitor Center
at Pyramid Lake
where a tunnel goes under the freeway and provides access to the old
Reservoir Hill Rd, now closed.
The problem I found is that the Visitor Center
does not allow hiking, nor parking anywhere outside. I drove to the Pyramid
Lake entrance booth and almost paid the $11 fee, but found in talking to the
attendant that there was no way to hike from their parking lot to the part of
the lake I wanted to visit. I ended up parking just off the freeway above the
lake and the tunnel in a small turnout. Not exactly legal, but the signs
there only said not to block the locked gate. The CHP visited my
vehicle in my absence and left a warning ticket
confirming the dubious legality of my parking choice.
The old road
is perfectly servicable for hiking, making it easy to follow it
up some 1,300ft over the course of three miles to the summit. Reservoir BM
has a cluster of three transmission lines running over its summit, with
from the middle line firmly planted there to squash any semblance of a
wilderness moment. A reference mark from the US Coast & Geodetic Survey was
dated 1941, but the benchmark
it pointed to was a replacement, installed by
LA County surveyors in 1965, probably when the reservoir was being built. East
and a little lower is Reservoir Hill,
so named because there is a small concrete reservoir
built at its summit, empty now and long in disuse. The
concrete Old Ridge Route winds around the crest below the two summits, with a
good view looking east
to Red Mtn and the higher summits of the Liebre Range.
To the southeast could be seen some of the higher, snowy summits of the San
Gabriels with Frazier Mtn towering high to the northwest. Not a bad way to
spend a few hours, but I can't recommend the route I used due to the parking