Thankfully today the weather cooled off a bit.  Unfortunately with the cooler weather comes the winds that always set off my allergies.  I woke up this morning with sinus troubles and by the time I left work, I was doing a pretty good impression of Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer.  But I didn’t care that I felt lousy when I left work, I was determined to soldier on with my mission to go somewhere or try something new every day.

Solution: Mucinex!  I stopped at Ralph’s on my way to my next destination and bought up the magic “make my nose stop running” pill.  I packed my new “Made in Detroit” bag (courtesy of my nephew) with extra pills, Kleenex and a large bottle of water.  I was ready to go.  My destination: the JPL hiking trails.

With my previous visits to the Cobb Estate, Suicide Bridge, and Devil’s Gate Dam, I wanted to see what else the Arroyo Seco had to offer.  Every morning and afternoon I drive past the parking lot for these trails on my way to work but I have never stopped.  Some of my students have been down there and they said it was beautiful but creepy.  So I wondered if this had anything to do with the stories I read about JPL and its co-founder, Jack Parsons.

When I arrived at the parking lot (located at the end of Windsor, just North of the 210 Arroyo/Windsor exit), and took in the view of JPL down below, and the Devil’s Gate off to my left in the distance.  There were few cars in the parking lot so it looked like this was going to be a nice peaceful hike.

I crossed the street to the entrance to the hiking path (next to a locked gate).  The path is paved, sunny jaunt with an easy incline.  There wasn’t much shade and lots of mountain bikers flying past but it was a beautiful view.  The mouth of the canyon was a distance down the hill, at the end of the JPL parking lot.  On the way down, there is a large DPW water facility to the right when you reach a fork in the road.  The path to the left goes down to the JPL parking lot and there is a pathway behind one of the fences that will take you streamside.

At the time, I didn’t know that is where the path would lead so I stayed to the right.  After hiking for a few minutes, I could hear the water moving down below, as well as a young child playing in the water with her father and trusty canine companion.  I wanted to find a way down there so I followed the path until I found what I was looking for on the right.  Part of the path down to the stream was a little steep but manageable.

It was absolutely beautiful down by the stream.  It reminded me a bit of my trips through Eaton Canyon, but without all of the shade and crowds of people.  There was even a cute little waterfall just below an area that the young girl was using as a wading pool with her dog as her father watched from the shore.

I followed the path for a little bit, running into very few people.  It was so peaceful and serene.  There was nothing sinister about the place.  I did hear voices from time to time but I figure they were coming from the mountain bikers on the path up above.  I can understand why this place is packed on the weekends.

Though I do have to admit that I was upset about all the litter, graffiti and random dog feces bags hanging from tree branches.  Some people have no respect for nature.

During my streamside hike, I also came across some plants that looked like they could be wild marijuana growing throughout the Arroyo Seco.  I have never seen a real marijuana plant so I have no idea if I was correct.  I took a picture to show it to my friends who are “experts” on this particular subject.  But when I saw them, I thought to myself that there was now a whole new meaning to the sign up by the front gate that tells you the fire danger for the day.  It was set to “High.”

Unfortunately, my allergies were driving me nuts so I thought it would be best if I ended my hike just before the sun would start to set.  On my return trip to my car, I saw more hikers, bikers, and cowboys on their horses entering the trails.  I even ran into my California Sister’s husband who was just starting his nightly bike ride.

When I finally reached my car, I noticed that the parking lot was now packed.  It was a little tricky trying to get out–especially since there was a group of mountain bikers blocking the way to the exit.  It is a good thing I arrived when I did, I beat the crowds.  But I think I will definitely have to put this down as one of my new favorite hiking trails and I can’t wait to go back when my sinuses clear up.  I think I would like to try heading up to one of the campgrounds.

Now as for the so-called Arroyo Seco Triangle legends, I don’t think the trails behind JPL should be included in that twisted bit of urban mythology.  Of course, I haven’t really done much research on the area besides looking up the hiking trails so who knows.  Anything is possible in area with so much history.

If you are interested in hiking these trails, here are two other websites and blogs with more information on the trails:

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