Sunday, November 22, 2015

Golden Boots Award Brian & Ashley's Hiking Blog

Ashley and I were honored to be a Golden Boots Blogger Award winner for October, 2015.  We would like to say thank you to Adam Nutting and the folks over at Hiking the Trail for the award! Thank you to those that nominated us. We would also like to say congratulations to one of our other local bloggers Nobody Hikes in LA for being a co-winner! Happy hiking everyone!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Icehouse Canyon Hike

Earlier this year, I hiked up Icehouse Canyon with a couple of buddies from work, Bryan and Dustin. This is also a hike that Ashley and I have done in the past on our way to Cucamonga Peak. The hike we did up Icehouse Canyon, in May of 2015, actually encountered the last bit of snow from the 2014 to 2015 rainy season for Southern California. This area of the Angeles National Forest/San Bernardino National Forest offers Southern California residents some great hiking trails and some amazing scenery. A hike up Icehouse Canyon is well worth any hikers time due to the scenery, historic cabins, and the fact it is a fun hike.

Directions to Trailhead: To get to the trailhead to hike up Icehouse Canyon, from the 210 freeway, exit on N. Mountain Avenue and head toward the San Gabriel Mountains. You will take N. Mountain Avenue until it runs into Mt. Baldy Road. Mt. Baldy Road will take you to the Mt. Baldy Visitor Center, where you need to pick up your additional free wilderness permit, and it will take you to the trailhead at Icehouse Canyon, which is not too far from the Mt. Baldy Visitor Center. As always, since this hike is in the San Bernardino National Forest you will need a Forest Adventure Pass. You can also get one at the Mt. Baldy Visitor Center where you pick up your additional free wilderness permit. Parking can be limited on weekends, due to the popularity of hiking in this area.

Description of Hike: The hike up Icehouse Canyon is a moderate to strenuous out and back hike.  There is 2,655 feet of elevation gain from the trailhead to the Icehouse saddle. The hike is 7.2 miles roundtrip. The hike is located in the San Bernardino National Forest which means you will need to have a Forest Adventure Pass for parking at the trailhead. Additionally, since the majority of the hike is in the Cucamonga Wilderness you will also need to pick up an additional free wilderness permit from the Mt. Baldy Visitor Center. You can also get a Forest Adventure Pass at the Mt. Baldy Visitor Center where you pick up your additional free wilderness permit. Note, if you are doing this hike in the summer make sure to check the weather to see if thunderstorms are forecasted for the mountains in Southern California. If they are, make sure to begin your hike early enough to be done before thunderstorms build in the afternoon. Additionally, during the winter, snowfall can blanket this entire area. If you hike this area in snow, make sure you have proper gear which could include crampons or snowshoes. When there is lots of snow present, you will find the trail has no switchbacks and is a direct hike right up the center of the canyon.

Further thoughts: This hike is truly an enjoyable half-day excursion into our local Southern California mountains. As you start your hike, the hiking trail meanders right between several groups of cabins and you also get the chance to see ruins from older cabins that burned down in past wildfires. When we started this hike, it was unique because the sky was so clear.  There literally was not a cloud in the sky when we began our hike at around 7:30 in the morning. The air was clean and crisp from the rain storm that came through the area the night before. However, by the time we finished the hike, we were socked in some thick cloudy weather, that developed during our hike. It was a neat experience to be able to watch the clouds develop in such a quick fashion. The whole way down from the Icehouse Canyon Saddle, we were in clouds.

While doing this hike, not long after crossing into the Cucamonga Wilderness, the hiking trail starts to climb at a steeper pace and that your heart starts to pound more heavily due to the uphill terrain. The hiking trail, up Icehouse Canyon, is well marked and easy to follow. When hiking in this area, you will likely see other hikers because it is a popular hiking spot. On weekends the parking area tends to fill up early, so take that into consideration when making your hiking plans. The Icehouse Canyon Saddle is a nice location to enjoy lunch, or it can serve as a staging area to hike to the higher peaks in this area, such as Cucamonga peak.

To the north of Icehouse Saddle, a trail follows the ridge to Timber Mountain (0.9 miles), Telegraph Peak (2.9 miles), and Thunder Mountain (3.9 miles), before descending to Baldy Notch (5.4 miles). To the southeast of Icehouse Saddle is a trail to Cucamonga Peak (2.4 miles). To the southwest of Icehouse Saddle is Ontario Peak (2.8 miles). And to the east, the Middle Fork Trail descends 5.4 miles to Middle Fork Trailhead.

Rating: Elevation Gain: 2,655 ft. (Moderate - Strenuous), Distance: 7.2 Miles Roundtrip (Moderate - Strenuous).

Time to Complete Hike: 3-5 hours.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Experience the Magic of the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks in October

For those of you looking for fun outdoor activities for the family in the month of October at the Irvine Ranch National Landmark, you might want to check out some of the following events

Experience the Magic of the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks in October
Free Seasonal Festive Programs for Families in the Great Outdoors

ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. (September 25, 2015) – This Halloween season families are invited to explore the great outdoors and experience the magic of the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks in October.  Discover unique historical tales about the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks. Each month, a different culture and celebration is highlighted with an outdoor program presented in multiple languages. 

On Saturday, October 10 at 6 p.m. experience the Mexican celebration, Día de los Muertos in the natural beauty of Black Star Canyon.

Explore the wild canyons and hidden foothills of Black Star Canyon on Friday, October 16 from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Enjoy a slow-paced hike to explore Orange County’s beautiful wild canyons and hidden foothills as you hear stories from how the geology was formed underfoot to tales of the plants and animals that call these protected habitats home.

On Saturday, October 17 from 10 .m. to 12 p.m. visit Limestone Canyon Nature Preserve to discover the bones of animals and learn about how they are similar or different to human bones. Young hikers will have the opportunity to examine an owl pellet for real animal’s bones, paint a unique bone creation and go on a bone dig like a real paleontologist to learn all about bones. The activities will take place in the Augustine staging area with plenty of fun activities. 

On Friday, October 23 at 5:30 p.m., bring the whole family to Limestone Canyon Nature Preserve to get to know the flying mammal, the bat. Hear fascinating tales of the creature and take a guided tour out towards a popular bat roosting location to watch as the nighttime wonders start their evening adventures.

Saturday, October 24 returns to Limestone Canyon Nature Preserve for a family friendly full moon hike to Agua Chinon. Beginning at 5 p.m., an easy pace will allow time to enjoy the surrounding sights and sounds of night and the breathtaking view of the full moon.

On Halloween, Saturday, October 31, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Irvine Ranch Conservancy in partnership with OC Parks is pleased to host the annual Halloween Zoo-Tacular! Bring the family to see the animals of the OC Zoo while they receive treat-filled pumpkins throughout the day. Enjoy fun activities including trick-or-treating, spooky crafts, a scavenger hunt and festive games. The first 100 children, ages 12 and under, to arrive in Halloween costumes receive a free gift.  

Visit for more information and to register for free today.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Acorn Day October 3 at O'Neill Regional Park

For those of you looking for fun outdoor activities for the family, you might want to check out Acorn Day at O'Neill Regional Park:


(Trabuco Canyon, Calif.) – Come celebrate Acorn Day under the oaks at O’Neill Regional Park Saturday, Oct. 3 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  The free, family-friendly day of excitement and learning offers activities for every age: free crafts for kids, a live butterfly enclosure, active games, face painting, live music, nature exhibits, oak tree planting and ukulele lessons for kids.

One hour, beginner-level guided nature hikes to the water tower will be offered at 9 and 10 a.m. 

Presentations throughout the day include Journeys to the Past, Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary, Inside the Outdoors, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Reserve K-9 Program, the Hummingbird Story and a live butterfly release at 2:30 p.m. by Western Monarch Guardians. 

Participants include OC Trails, the Helena Modjeska Foundation, Tree of Life Nursery, Orange County Fire Watch, OC Parks, Earthroots Field School, the Saddleback Area Historical Society, Western Bluebird Society, Saddleback Canyon Riders, SHARE Mountain Bike Club, Southwestern Field Herping Associates, and the Institute for Wildlife Studies and more. 

October 4 – Acorn Day
10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Cost: Free
Parking: Free
Location: O’Neill Regional Park
Address: 30892 Trabuco Canyon Road
Contact: (949) 923-2260,

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Hiking Mt. San Gorgonio (Via the Vivian Creek Trail)

As part of our training to hike to the top of Mt. Whitney in 2015, we climbed Mt. San Gorgonio via the Vivian Creek Trail. Myself and two buddies from work, Bryan and Dustin, made the climb the two weekends before the Lake Fire broke out in that area. A hike to the summit of Mt. San Gorgonio, via the Vivian Creek Trail, is one of Southern California's monster hikes and is great for training for a Mt. Whitney climb. Mt. San Gorgonio, at an elevation of 11,502 feet, is the tallest peak in Southern California and is a must do hike for any Southern California Hiker.

Directions to Trailhead: To get to the Vivian Creek Trailhead, from Orange County, take the 91 freeway east towards Riverside. Stay on the 91 freeway which eventually becomes the 215 freeway. The 215 freeway eventually intersects with Interstate 10. At the 215 freeway and Interstate 10 interchange, take Interstate 10 heading East toward Palm Springs. Exit from interstate 10 on University which is in the city of Redlands. Make a left on University and follow University (You will pass through Redlands University) until you meet Highway 38. Make a right on Highway 38 going toward the San Bernardino Mountains. In several miles you will pass the Mill Creek Ranger Station (Where you obtain the additional wilderness permit if you have not gotten it early), continue on up into the San Bernardino National Forest. Several miles pass the Mill Creek Ranger station, you will make a right at Forest Falls Road. At the very end of Forest Falls Road is where the trailhead begins at 6,080 feet. There are several parking lots at the trailhead (A Forest Adventure Pass is needed as well as a Wilderness Permit for the San Gorgornio Wilderness).

Description of Hike: To day hike or overnight backpack in the San Gorgonio Wilderness, you must have an additional wilderness permit (The Permit is Free), in addition to the Forest Adventure Pass. You can Follow this link for the permit. The link will direct you to the wilderness permit application. You can obtain the additional wilderness permit early from the Mill Creek Ranger Station which is the easiest way, or you will have to stop at the Mill Creek Ranger Station before you go hiking. Each trail has a set quota for the number of hikers allowed on each hiking trail in the San Gorgonio Wilderness and once the quota is reached the National Forest Service does not issue more wilderness permits for the hiking trail. That is why we recommend you get your wilderness permit early. You can obtain a permit 90 days before your hike in the San Gorgonio Wilderness. We did see a ranger checking for permits when we did one of our two hikes in June of 2015.

Mt. San Gorgonio is located in the San Gorgonio Wilderness (58,968 Acres). The Vivian Creek Trail is the shortest and steepest route to the summit of Mt. San Gorgonio. The total length of the hike is approximately 16 miles roundtrip with a 5,600 foot elevation gain. We used this hike as a training hike for Mt. Whitney and hiking to the summit in one day. For those hikers/backpackers looking to enjoy the experience more, backpacking is the definitely way to go. Backpacking on the mountain and spending multiple days on the mountain allows you the time to really enjoy the beauty of this hike. Ashley and I would recommend camping at the High Creek Camp or the Halfway Camp if you are going to be spending multiple nights on your hike to Mt. San Gorgonio via the Vivian Creek Trail.

One and two-tenths miles from the trailhead is Vivian Creek Camp (7,100 ft.). Campsites are located up slope to the right of the trail after reaching the stream: one is halfway up the slope, and the other is at the top of the slope (There is no camping within 200 feet of the trail or creek). One and three-tenths miles from Vivian Creek Camp is Halfway Camp (8,100 ft.). Water is obtained from the creek approximately 200 yards before camp. Two and three-tenths miles further is High Creek Camp (9,200 ft.). Water is also available at the high creek camp. The summit of San Gorgonio (11,502 ft) is 3 miles beyond High Creek Camp. For Current Water Conditions on Mt. San Gorgonio and water levels in the streams click Here to go to the San Gorgonio Wilderness Association's website.

The Vivian Creek Trail is a very popular hiking trail to take to the summit of Mt. San Gorgonio and you will likely see other hikers on the trail as well as tents in the campsites. We saw multiple groups of hikers while on our two hikes in June 2015. The trail is well maintained and is usually in good condition. This hike is very strenuous and only fit hikers should hike to the summit of Mt. San Gorgonio. It is a good idea to train on other hikes in preparation for Mt. San Gorgonio. A list of good training hikes is below.

Further Thoughts: Our group used this as a training hike for our upcoming Mt. Whitney hike. We did this hike twice in June 2015, but only made the summit once out of the two hikes, due to altitude issues. Our group was amazing to see how dry this area was. I have been hiking in this area for a number of years and have never seen the area so dry, due to the continuing drought in Southern California. This is an amazing training hike for anyone looking to hike to the top of Mt. Whitney and is one of the toughest hikes to do in one day in all of Southern California.

We were prepared for the hike with plenty of water and supplies. During our hikes, we had great weather, that even bordered on the edge of being too warm on one of our two hikes. For a majority of the hike we were rewarded with sweeping views of Southern California. One of the steepest portions of the hike to the top of Mt. San Gorgonio on the Vivian Creek Trail is in the first mile and a half after you cross the river near the beginning of the trailhead. The really steep portion ends once you reach Vivian Creek Camp. This is always one of the most difficult sections of the hike. If you want an idea of the current weather and conditions of the San Gorgonio Wilderness, click Here for a live webcam of Mt. San Gorgonio courtesy of During the summer months, always be on the watch for thunderstorms. June is usually a little early for the summer monsoon season, but anything can happen in this area. While on our hikes we had dark clouds that developed, but they never turned into thunderstorms.

Most of the year, there is plenty of water to filter along sections of the Vivian Creek Trail. However, during some summer and fall months, there may not be as much water in the springs/streams as compared to other years. Water information is provided by the San Gorgonio Wilderness Association. We filtered our water from the creek at high creek camp. It is always a great idea to bring your water filter with you on this hike. Everyone from our group would attest, the most deceptive part about this hike is the false summit that is present on the hike. Just remember when you appear to be getting near the summit, you have a little bit further than you think. Our entire group made the summit and spent about an hour at the top soaking in the views!

Rating: Elevation Gain: 5,600 ft. (Strenuous), Distance: 16 Miles Roundtrip (Strenuous), Note: be on the watch for Altitude sickness since the height of Mt. San Gorgonio is 11,502 ft.

Time to Complete Hike: 7.5 - 10 hours.

Good Training Hikes: Mt. Baden-Powell, Mt. San Jacinto, Saddleback Mountain,Cucamonga Peak, Mt. Baldy.


South Fork Loop (August 2014)

Mt. San Gorgonio (Via the South Fork Trail, June 2015)(This Post)