Ken Burton Trail Reborn
Since I began serious trail running in 2010, two of the closer trails to me in the San Gabriel Mountains were only runnable via out-and-back routes. This changed at the start of May when the Ken Burton Trail, closed since the 2009 Station Fire, reopened due to the diligent work of the Mt. Wilson Bicycling Association and the Concerned Off-Road Bicyclists Association. It is now possible to run a loop, connecting the recent end of the Gabrielino Trail along the Arroyo Seco at Paul Little and Upper Brown Mountain Road. I set out yesterday at about noon from the Windsor parking lot overlooking NASA JPL. My legs were pretty tired from my run the previous day, so I pushed hard to run the gradual uphill for nearly five miles to Paul Little. Lo and behold, there was now an open trail to the right at the Paul Little sign. The trail switchbacks steeply, the soil still loose since the trail is new, bringing you over the top of the debris dam. The trail has no official signage in the Oakwilde area, and tracks through the Arroyo along much of its length. You need to rely on following pink flagging tape, cairns, and bicycle tracks to find your way. Despite the holiday weekend, I had the whole place to myself. I felt a comforting, if errant, feeling of wilderness isolation, that was sometimes disturbed by the sound of motorcycle engines on the Angeles Crest Highway high above on the canyon wall. The forest and chaparral have recovered well here, and non-naturalists might not notice the signs of the fire that devastated this area nearly seven years ago. I walked through here, often slowly, taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of an area that was completely new to me.
I eventually reached the north flank of Brown Mountain. The trail climbs steeply here, gaining 1,000 feet in about 1.5 miles. Wildflowers abound. So do the views. It felt hot here today, so I was happy to reach Upper Brown Mountain Road, where I found the tiniest patch of shade beneath of a scrub oak and sat for a bit to take in some calories and hydrate to the limits of the water supply I had with me. I decided to take El Prieto Trail back down, as El Prieto Canyon was the nearest patch of shade.
Link to Garmin data: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1191574723