Canyonlands: Tales from Narrow Places

Cali canyoneering – Rubio & LSA Canyons

Posted in California & Nevada by canyoneering on June 7, 2010

For Memorial Day weekend, Laura and I drove across the desert to Los Angeles to see our good buddy Chris, get a little beach in and get a taste for some Cali canyoneering in the San Gabriel Mountains. The plan for the first day was to do the East Fork of Rubio into Rubio Canyon, a long and challenging day. After dropping off one of our shuttle vehicles at the bottom of Rubio in a residential neighborhood, which was in stark contrast to the canyoneering I am used to in wilderness far removed from civilization, we attempted to drive up into the Front Range via the Angeles Crest Highway to the upper trailhead for the East Fork of Rubio. A road closure on the Angeles Crest Highway from last year’s Station Fire and the heavy rains over the winter turned us around and we were forced to change our plans.

Rubio Canyon, 3BII
5.5 miles
Angeles National Forest – San Gabriel Mountains

Still nursing her bruised hand from Sunburst, Laura dropped us off at the trailhead for Rubio and wasted no time heading directly to the beach. For Chris and I, the hike up into the Front Range was a on a popular trail to say the least. We passed dozens of hikers as we switched back and forth up into the hills with views of the entire metropolitan area below us. Even through the smog, downtown Los Angeles did not look too far away.

Breaking off the trail we made our way into the canyon, which had a slight flow down the drainage. As we followed rusted pipes down the canyon, we made our way to the first rappel, an 80- drop down Thalehaha Falls. The descent was followed by several more rappels none of which were as interesting as the first. One of the rappels was down the remnants of an old dam. At the start of another rappel, the skyline of downtown LA was clearly visible. We quickly reached the end of the canyon and walked passed homes with manicured lawns back to our car.

Little Santa Anita Canyon, 3CII
4 miles
Angeles National Forest – San Gabriel Mountains

With still a lot of light left in the day, Chris and I hopped on the freeway, sat in a little bit of traffic and drove to the trailhead of Little Santa Anita Canyon (LSA). Another switchback hike under a blazing mid-afternoon sun brought us to the canyon that had a lot more flow than Rubio. LSA was a blast with close to ten continuous waterfall rappels through delightfully warm water or at least warm compared to what we are used to. Like Rubio, the canyon is way over bolted.  With the abundance of natural anchors the bolts are unnecessary but makes descent of the canyon quick and easy despite the concentration of rappels. At the end of the canyon, another hike through a residential neighborhood brought us back to out car.



3 Responses

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  1. Sandy said, on June 13, 2010 at 11:22 pm

    Hi! Great blog! Originally stumbled upon this when searching for Rubio Canyon, but have now read through many many entries on canyoneering. Thumbs up!

  2. Stephen Schwartz said, on June 14, 2010 at 11:16 am

    DAVID/LAURA: Congratulations. I gather you’re going to be parents in about 6 months! It’ll be interesting to see what kind of a kink that puts in your canyoneering!

    🙂 🙂

    The very best to you both!

  3. Marco Garcia said, on June 15, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    Nice! Looks refreshing. I’ve only gone up there to hike, but coming across people with rappelling equipment makes me want to try it! great blog!

    Check out some of my pictures and videos from Rubio Canyon!

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