Treasures of the Valley » Mike lawler

Posted by on May 30th, 2013 and filed under Viewpoints. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Two New Hiking Trails in our Local Hills

Mike Lawler is the former president of the Historical Society of the Crescenta Valley and loves local history. Reach him at

Mike Lawler is the former president of the Historical Society
of the Crescenta Valley and loves local history. Reach him at

In the Crescenta Valley, we’re blessed with unparalleled access to hiking and biking trails into the beautiful mountains that surround us. The San Gabriels, the Verdugos, and the San Rafael mountains provide scores of trails. Thanks to the City of Glendale, we can add two more to the list. The Catalina Verdugo Trail and the Mountain Do Trail officially open this Saturday.

Both these new trails can be accessed at the south end of the parking lot for the Glendale Sports Complex at the top of Fern Lane. The trails circle the playing fields there, giving great views of the soccer and softball action, and fantastic views of the Crescenta Valley.

My wife and I pre-hiked the trails last week. The Mountain Do Trail is a very short (3/4 of a mile) almost entirely level trail that circles the soccer fields, at one point moving back a little into a canyon. This trail is unique in that its flat hard trail bed will allow those in wheelchairs to hike this trail, and is very easy for very small children, even strollers, to navigate. Thus its name “Mountain Do” – anyone can “do” this trail. At points along the route, one can turn off the trail, crossing small bridges to access activity areas. Each of these is outfitted with benches and tables, and interpretive signs about the plants and animals of the San Rafaels. As well, there are Universal Gym-style exercise machines that are magically adaptable to any level of fitness, even usable by those in wheelchairs. This would make a great fitness circuit – running the trail and stopping at all the exercise machines.

The Catalina Verdugo Trail is a longer (two miles) conventional hiking and biking trail. From the south of the Sports Complex parking lot it switchbacks up the San Rafaels through heavy chaparral and oaks. At the top of the switchbacks, hikers are rewarded with a spectacular 180-degree view of Los Angeles, Glendale and the Crescenta Valley. The trail at this point connects with the fire roads and trails that lead into La Cañada’s robust trail system. From here, one can hike to the police shooting range, the old air raid siren and Descanso Gardens. A novelty trail hike would be to go from here to the San Gabriel Mountains, utilizing La Cañada’s unusual Cross Town Trail, which actually crosses the 210 Freeway. Continuing on the Catalina Verdugo Trail, you move in and out of the folds of the mountainside, alternately enjoying peaceful wooded glades and fantastic views. Some parts of the trail are carved out of sheer cliff faces – remarkable engineering feats. Amateur geologists will enjoy the unusually varied strata exposed by the new trail. Benches and interpretive signage highlight points on the route. The trail drops the hiker back onto the Sports Complex, making a great little loop, less than an hour’s hike.

Wildlife is plentiful on both trails. We saw deer, quail, rabbits, a stink beetle, and about a hundred fat and happy lizards. The only downside of the trails is the freeway noise from the Glendale (2) Freeway and, of course, the ever-present poison oak. The trails were professionally built and I’m told the contractor is a mountain biker. It shows, as this is a great non-technical starter trail for beginners, yet interesting to more experienced riders. Money for the trails was obtained by the city through grant programs and local teens provided labor for the building process through the Glendale Youth Alliance. The trails will be patrolled and maintained by Glendale’s ever-growing army of trail volunteers.

The official opening of both trails is this Saturday, June 1 at 10 a.m. There will be the traditional ribbon cutting and speeches, along with free snacks and info on Glendale’s other trails. If you’ve been thinking about getting into hiking, these two trails are great starters – good parking, restrooms, even a snack bar at the Sports Complex. Get out and discover the wonderland we live in. Enjoy a morning or after-work hike and enjoy the surrounding mountains that define our beautiful valley.

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