Bridge to Toll Road

This bridge across the Eaton Canyon wash is located on the Mount Wilson Toll Road, 1.1 miles north of the Nature Center.  There are two primary ways to get to the bridge: hike there from the parking lot by crossing the wash and proceeding uphill along the access road, or park at the Pinecrest gate and walk down the steep road inside the fence.  To get to the Pinecrest gate, go north on Altadena Drive one mile past the entrance to Eaton Canyon.  Turn right on Crescent, then right again on Pinecrest.  Observe parking signs carefully.

From the bridge you can hike south to the Nature Center (1.1 miles), north to the Falls (0.4 miles), or up the Toll Road to Henninger Flats (2.7 miles) or Mount Wilson (8.7 miles).

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Henninger Flats

Henninger Flats, at 2,600' above sea level, can be seen from the parking lot at Eaton Canyon Park.  It is the lowest flat area with conifer trees between the nearest peaks to the northeast.  While there, take advantage of the rest rooms, drinking fountain, picnic area, and Visitor's Center.  There is also a plant nursery on the premises.  Be aware that there is little or no shade along the trails until you reach the Flats.  Camping is available by permit.

Here are the three major routes to the Flats:

Henninger Flats

1) From the parking lot, walk north across the wash and turn left (north), then walk approximately one-half mile to Walnut Canyon and climb the steep, windy horse trail, which meets with the Toll Road.  Take the Toll Road uphill (total distance: 3 miles each way - very strenuous).

2) Same as #1, but continue past Walnut Canyon all the way to the bridge and take the Toll Road uphill (total distance: 3.5 miles each way - fairly strenuous)

3) Take the Toll Road all the way from the Pinecrest gate (total distance: 2.7 miles each way - fairly strenuous).  To get to the Pinecrest gate, go north on Altadena Drive one mile past the entrance to Eaton Canyon.  Turn right on Crescent, then right again on Pinecrest.  Observe parking signs carefully.

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Moist Canyon

This canyon ends in a large alluvial fan south of the meadow, almost directly across the wash from north end of the parking lot.  It's only a couple of hundred yards from the Nature Center.

You can hike up the well-marked trail for a long distance, but when you reach the upper section keep in mind that you are behind the Pasadena Police Department Firing Range.  Although to our knowledge there has never been a report of an injury from that source, people occasionally find bullets on the ground.
Moist Canyon

The going is mostly moderate, but can become steep and overgrown in places.  After a short distance you'll find a cutoff to the right, but it ends approximately 150' later in an area rich in poison oak, so be careful.  This caveat applies to the entire canyon.

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Coyote Canyon

This is a small canyon ending in an alluvial fan just north of the meadow.  The meadow is the flat area just across the main wash crossing north of the parking lot.  It is approximately one-third of a mile from the Nature Center.

While there is some access to the area, you'll find that the narrow trail is not maintained and virtually disappears after a short distance.  When hiking here, choose your steps carefully and keep a sharp eye out for poison oak.

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Walnut Canyon

Walnut Canyon Above Walnut Canyon

The entrance to Walnut Canyon is located approximately one- half mile north of the Nature Center, on the east side of the wash, just past an old, broken- down wire fence and a stand of agave on the right.  This is the "equestrian trail" notorious for its steep, narrow, dusty, shadeless, winding path.  Starting from the access road, it joins the Toll Road nearly a half-mile later.

The going gets slightly easier at this point, and you can continue on to Henninger Flats and Mount Wilson.

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Toll Road to Mt. Wilson

Mount Wilson, at 5,710' above sea level, houses many radio and television antennae as well as the famous observatory.  The observatory and other buildings are open only on the weekends, so if you're hiking there during the week be certain you take plenty of food and water with you.  Henninger Flats is the only place on the trail with drinking water on those days.  Be aware that there is little or no shade along the way until you reach Henninger Flats.

Here are the three major routes to Mount Wilson.

1) From the parking lot, walk north across the wash and turn left (north), then walk approximately one-half mile to Walnut Canyon and climb the steep, windy horse trail, which meets with the Toll Road.  Take the Toll Road uphill (total distance: 9 miles each way - the most strenuous).

2) Same as #1, but continue past Walnut Canyon all the way to the bridge and take the Toll Road uphill (total distance: 9.5 miles each way - very strenuous)

3) Take the Toll Road all the way from the Pinecrest gate (total distance: 8.7 miles each way - very strenuous).  To get to the Pinecrest gate, go north on Altadena Drive one mile past the entrance to Eaton Canyon.  Turn right on Crescent, then right again on Pinecrest.  Observe parking signs carefully.

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Mount Wilson

Mount Wilson, at 5,710' above sea level, houses many radio and television antennae as well as the famous observatory.  The observatory and other buildings are open only on the weekends, so if you're hiking there during the week be certain you take plenty of food and water with you.  Henninger Flats is the only place on the trail with drinking water on those days.  Be aware that there is little or no shade along the way until you reach Henninger Flats.

Here are the three major routes to Mount Wilson.

1) From the parking lot, walk north across the wash and turn left (north), then walk approximately one-half mile to Walnut Canyon and climb the steep, windy horse trail, which meets with the Toll Road.  Take the Toll Road uphill (total distance: 9 miles each way - the most strenuous).

2) Same as #1, but continue past Walnut Canyon all the way to the bridge and take the Toll Road uphill (total distance: 9.5 miles each way - very strenuous)

3) Take the Toll Road all the way from the Pinecrest gate (total distance: 8.7 miles each way - very strenuous).  To get to the Pinecrest gate, go north on Altadena Drive one mile past the entrance to Eaton Canyon.  Turn right on Crescent, then right again on Pinecrest.  Observe parking signs carefully.

 

Eaton Canyon Falls

For a spectacular view of Eaton Canyon, hike to the 50-foot Eaton Canyon Waterfall.  You can get there either by parking in the Nature Center parking lot, crossing the wash, and continuing 1.5 miles up a slight incline, or by parking at the Pinecrest gate and hiking 0.4 miles north from the bridge.  To get to the Pinecrest gate, go north on Altadena Drive one mile past the entrance to Eaton Canyon.  Turn right on Crescent, then right again on Pinecrest.  Observe parking signs carefully.

There is water at the falls year-round, but in dry seasons and during the summer months the stream bed may be partially or totally dry.  In order to reach the falls you'll have to cross the stream bed several times, but only in the wettest months will this be particularly difficult.

It is not a steep incline, so children should be able to make the trip with help from their parents.  You will be required to climb over some rocks.

Eaton Falls

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Oak Terrace Trail

Oak Terrace
Oak Terrace

This is a looping trail about one-quarter of a mile long.  It begins at the work yard, approximately 100 yards north of the Nature Center, at the base of the bluff on which private homes are situated.  There are numbered marker posts along the trail which can be used as reference points.  Pick up a complimentary trail guide in the Nature Center and take it with you.  It will give you information about what you might expect to see at each stop.

Plants along the way include coast live oak, poison oak, white nightshade, white sage, black sage, coffeeberry, laurel sumac, yucca, dodder, toyon, sycamore, horehound, and elderberry.
You may also see various rocks, birds, squirrels, rabbits, lizards, snakes and insects.

Take photos, memories, and trash away with you, but nothing else - no plants, animals, sticks, stones, or leaves.  Enjoy your visit and allow others to enjoy theirs.

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Fire Ecology Trail

This trail begins between the pond (just north of the Nature Center) and the public parking lot.

The Fire Ecology Trail section and all the surrounding area burned in the brush fire of October27, 1993 which swept through nearly 6,000 acres of the foothills, including approximately two-thirds of the Eaton Canyon Natural Area, and destroyed the Nature Center building.  The slopes and flats in the park continue to recover from the fire, and the plants on this trail show several ways that plants regrow afterward.  Fire has been a natural factor in the San Gabriel Mountain foothills for many thousands of years.

The Coastal Sage Scrub plant community in the San Gabriel Valley generally occurs below 1,500 feet on sloping land below the foothills.  This community of low, scrubby plants is the most endangered vegetation type in Southern California because of pressures from urbanization, flood control projects, and rock quarries.  California sagebrush is the dominant shrub, with other common associates being white sage, black sage, and flat-topped buckwheat.  Plants in this group are adapted to the hot, dry summers and cool, moist winters we have in Southern California.  Their leaves may be small, sticky, hairy, or whitish-coated, to reduce water loss, and often are fragrant.  Many species are drought-deciduous, which means they lose their leaves to reduce stress during the dry summer and fall months.

Individual plants of the Chaparral Community, which dominates the slopes above the park, are found on the trail.  Plants in these communities commonly respond to fire in two ways.  They may regrow from seeds from the original burned plant, or they may resprout vigorously from the basal stump (bud) and roots left behind.  Species using the first method are called "seeders", and those using the latter, "sprouters" (some things are logical). Many plants use both techniques to re-establish themselves. Some seeds require heat to break a tough outer coat and some need charcoal or smoke from fire to sprout.  Look for evidence of charred wood at the bases and on old stems of shrubs along the trail.

There are numbered marker posts along the trail which can be used as reference points.  Pick up a complimentary trail guide in the Nature Center and take it with you.  It will give you information about what you might expect to see at each stop.  In addition to those mentioned on Page 1, plants include coffeeberry, laurel sumac, penstemon, scale-broom, sycamore, currant, coast live oak, yucca, mulefat, yerba santa, little-leaf redberry, cactus, poison oak, and matilija poppy.  You may also see various rocks, birds, squirrels, rabbits, lizards, snakes and insects.

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Junior Nature Trail

This trail starts at the north end of the Employee Parking Lot and winds around the area near the Nature Center.  It is flat and well-suited for small children and people who are physically limited.  The total distance is less than a quarter of a mile.

This trail was developed for small children in memory of Mary Shannon, who was a volunteer here at the nature center for many years and Past President of the Nature Center Associates. The Student Naturalists of Eaton Canyon refurbished it in 1999. Please encourage children to stop, look, and listen for birds and other wildlife on the trail.

Junior Nature Trail

There are numbered marker posts along the trail which can be used as reference points.  Pick up a complimentary trail guide in the Nature Center and take it with you.  It will give you information about what you might expect to see at each stop, such as the pond, laurel sumac, California sagebrush, coast live oak, poison oak, prickly pear cactus, yucca, coffeeberry, white sage, black sage, scale-broom, rocks, birds, squirrels, rabbits, lizards, and snakes.

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