FISH CANYON FALLS, SAN GABRIEL MTS MAY 2013
PAGE ONE
Photographs by Michael Charters




It had been eight years since I was last in Fish Canyon, which is one of the most beautiful canyons in the front range of the San Gabriels. More than 50 cabins were originally situated in the canyon but the fire of 1958 and flooding of 1959 destroyed all but 4, which were subsequently torn down in the mid-70's. Today it is a pristine environment with only scant reminders of its habitated history, a few foundation remains and vegetative evidence that people once lived here. The quarrying operation at the mouth of the canyon by the mid-80's had severely curtailed access to the trail, necessitating a long, hot, hard hike up a brushy and overgrown foot path over Van Tassel Ridge and back down into the canyon, but the cities of Duarte and Azusa and Vulcan Materials Company have worked together to facilitate entrance both on public access days in the spring when transportation is provided across their property and on other days when special arrangements may be made. I have twice hiked over the ridge and I don't recommend it. If you go in the regular way, it is about a two-mile hike to the falls, long considered one of the most lovely in the San Gabriels. I hiked with Dan Simpson, the creator of Dan's Hiking Pages, who had made special arrangements with Vulcan to allow us in on a non-public access day, which meant that we essentially had the canyon to ourselves as opposed to the hundreds of people that often crowd the trail. We only met a single pair of hikers from Orange County who had come over the ridge. This year having been relatively drier than most, the canyon is not quite as floristic as I have seen it in the past. However, this canyon is the location of the core population of the extremely rare San Gabriel Mountains dudleya, Dudleya densiflora, which only lives here and in a couple of adjacent canyons. It was early yet for it to be in bloom but I wil include pictures from a previous hike.

My photo gallery for all the flowering plants of Fish Canyon is here. An asterisk next to the common name indicates a non-native taxon.


UPDATE: Regrettably Fish Canyon was consumed in the Fish Fire on May 20, 2016, and undoubtedly the trail was heavily damaged and will continue to be damaged due to erosion from the steep slopes and debris flow, so it will probably be years before it is once again open to the public.


   
Elegant clarkia
Clarkia unguiculata
Onagraceae
 
Farewell-to-spring, Botta's clarkia
Clarkia bottae
Onagraceae


 
Golden yarrow
Eriophyllum confertiflorum var. confertiflorum
Asteraceae


 
 
Thoroughwort, Eupatory, Sticky snakeroot *
Ageratina adenophora
Asteraceae
 
 
Indian milkweed
Asclepias eriocarpa
Asclepiadaceae
Common eucrypta
Eucrypta chrysanthemifolia var. chrysanthemifolia
Boraginaceae
Southern honeysuckle
Lonicera subspicata var. denudata
Caprifoliaceae
Coffeberry
Frangula californica ssp. californica
Rhamnaceae


 
Caterpillar phacelia
Phacelia cicutaria var. hispida
Boraginaceae



 
 
 
White sage
Salvia apiana
Lamiaceae
 
 
 
 



 
Goldback fern
Pentagramma triangularis ssp. triangularis
Pteridaceae


   
Narrow-leaved bedstraw
Galium angustifolium ssp. angustifolium
Rubiaceae


 
Chamise
Adenostoma fasiculatum var. fasciculatum
Rosaceae



 
Globe gilia
Gilia capitata ssp. abrotanifolia
Polemoniaceae
   
Field hedge-parsley *
Torilis arvensis
Apiaceae
     

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