Sycamore Canyon
Saturday, January 31, 2009

It is said that the map is not the territory.  It should be noted that trail markers are not necessarily the territory, either.

Recently I was pleased to learn that there is a trail that leads from the Ridge Fire Road, where I often hike, down to Sycamore Canyon, which I've never visited.  I looked it up on Google Maps (in retrospect, not the best source for hiking information), and it appeared as though you could do a nice loop from Hellman Trail, east along Sycamore Canyon, around the Rose Hills Pagoda, to link you back with Skyline Drive — about 6 miles round trip (see map).  That was the plan.  With the map committed to memory, I set out to explore the territory.

It was a beautiful day.  I had very nice views of Catalina Island, downtown L.A., and I could even see the Hollywood sign.  I got a close-up look at a turkey vulture circling just overhead; easily mistaken for a hawk, they're neat-looking even if they are vultures.

So I found the trail that led down to Sycamore Canyon, and decended the many switchbacks to a nice little creek.  Just after crossing the creek, I arrived at a large clearing, which I believed to be the Sycamore Canyon Trail.  I was expecting a "T" intersection; however, there was a sign at the juncture that said that the trail goes south (the direction from which I had just come), and west, toward Workman Mill Road.  But not east.  I walked to east side of the clearing, and didn't immediately see a trail, but on closer investigation I found a narrow path heading the direction I wanted to go.

The trail was quite beautiful.  It was shady and pleasant, with cool breezes wafting through the ravine.  After a couple miles, however, the trail came to an abrupt end with a sign that read "Park Boundary".  There was no sign of the pagoda.  Exploring the area revealed no trails leading east from that point.

Hrm.

Dead End.  No loop for you!!

Disappointed, I headed back, thinking first of all, that I should try finding the trail from the other direction, and secondly, that it's probably time I learn how to use that GPS device that Thomas gave me.  When I got back to the park entrance, I checked out the map (I suppose I should have done that first), and found that I wasn't on Sycamore Canyon Trail at all.  I was on the Dark Canyon Trail.  According to this map, the Sycamore Canyon Trail doesn't go east from that point; only west.

When I got home, I pulled up Google Maps again and took a closer look.  I can see now where the fabled Sycamore Canyon Road diverges from the Dark Canyon Trail (pictured left).  I never saw any path branching off to my left, but perhaps I just overlooked it.  I'm not 100% convinced that that path is truly there; I think I may try approaching it from the other direction to see what I can find.

I also found this map on the web; Dark Canyon isn't listed, but you can see that the Sycamore Canyon Trail leads west to Workman Mill Road.  Sycamore Canyon is very pretty, by the way; I walked west along the trail for a bit before doubling back to Dark Canyon.


Leave a comment

Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? "Father, save me from this hour"? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!
— John 12:27-28