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Venture up Haines Canyon, where you leave L.A. behind and enter a seldom-visited corner of Angeles National Forest.

Coyotes howl, water splashes down a willow-lined creek, and hummingbirds flit about in search of nectar. All of this takes place barely a mile from the grid of suburban streets on the fringe of Los Angeles. We're talking about Haines Canyon in the foothill community of Tujunga, but it's a lot like dozens of other small canyon streams that give up their water to the concrete storm channels of the city below. At the mouth of almost every one of these steep canyons yawns a debris basin, often 50 to 100 feet wide, designed to catch the slurry of silt, sand, rocks, and boulders that roars down the mountain slopes during infrequent cloudbursts.

A fire road ascends Haines Canyon and continues all the way to 5074-foot Mt. Lukens, on the crest of the front range of the San Gabriel Mountains. The modest goal on this hike, though, is merely to reach a secluded middle section of Haines Canyon, almost totally removed from the sight and the sounds of the city.

To get to Haines Canyon, first find Foothill Boulevard, which strings together the communities of Glendale, Tujunga, and Sunland. Turn north on Haines Canyon Avenue in Tujunga and drive to its dead end. Find a place to park and then walk past two vehicle gates, passing a typical, stark-looking debris basin and dam. Continue on the dirt road that runs up along the Haines Canyon creek. You'll pass 12 check dams (also called crib dams) down along the creek, all constructed of the same kind of precast concrete pieces that look like gray Lincoln logs. The regrowth of native trees such as willows, live oaks, and sycamores in the canyon bottom has done a lot to soften the impact of these erosion-resistant structures.

After 1.2 miles, the road curves abruptly right and climbs out of the canyon toward Mt. Lukens, which lies several miles by foot or bike away, and is some 2000 feet higher in elevation. That strenuous effort can be done on a cool, clear day, but our route goes up an obscure, old roadbed to the left -- a sketchy trail now -- going up the main branch of Haines Canyon. Remnants of the old road end beneath a large live oak 1.7 miles from the start. A seasonal stream trickles by. You can picnic at this secluded spot, or press on to explore one source of the water, a spring a couple hundred yards upstream (watch out for poison oak through here, though).

This article contains information about a publicly owned recreation or wilderness area. Trails and pathways are not necessarily marked. Conditions can change rapidly. Hikers should be properly equipped and have safety and navigational skills. The Reader and Jerry Schad assume no responsibility for any adverse experience.

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Coyotes howl, water splashes down a willow-lined creek, and hummingbirds flit about in search of nectar. All of this takes place barely a mile from the grid of suburban streets on the fringe of Los Angeles. We're talking about Haines Canyon in the foothill community of Tujunga, but it's a lot like dozens of other small canyon streams that give up their water to the concrete storm channels of the city below. At the mouth of almost every one of these steep canyons yawns a debris basin, often 50 to 100 feet wide, designed to catch the slurry of silt, sand, rocks, and boulders that roars down the mountain slopes during infrequent cloudbursts.

A fire road ascends Haines Canyon and continues all the way to 5074-foot Mt. Lukens, on the crest of the front range of the San Gabriel Mountains. The modest goal on this hike, though, is merely to reach a secluded middle section of Haines Canyon, almost totally removed from the sight and the sounds of the city.

To get to Haines Canyon, first find Foothill Boulevard, which strings together the communities of Glendale, Tujunga, and Sunland. Turn north on Haines Canyon Avenue in Tujunga and drive to its dead end. Find a place to park and then walk past two vehicle gates, passing a typical, stark-looking debris basin and dam. Continue on the dirt road that runs up along the Haines Canyon creek. You'll pass 12 check dams (also called crib dams) down along the creek, all constructed of the same kind of precast concrete pieces that look like gray Lincoln logs. The regrowth of native trees such as willows, live oaks, and sycamores in the canyon bottom has done a lot to soften the impact of these erosion-resistant structures.

After 1.2 miles, the road curves abruptly right and climbs out of the canyon toward Mt. Lukens, which lies several miles by foot or bike away, and is some 2000 feet higher in elevation. That strenuous effort can be done on a cool, clear day, but our route goes up an obscure, old roadbed to the left -- a sketchy trail now -- going up the main branch of Haines Canyon. Remnants of the old road end beneath a large live oak 1.7 miles from the start. A seasonal stream trickles by. You can picnic at this secluded spot, or press on to explore one source of the water, a spring a couple hundred yards upstream (watch out for poison oak through here, though).

This article contains information about a publicly owned recreation or wilderness area. Trails and pathways are not necessarily marked. Conditions can change rapidly. Hikers should be properly equipped and have safety and navigational skills. The Reader and Jerry Schad assume no responsibility for any adverse experience.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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