From tip-to-tip the Arroyo Seco stretches nearly 25 miles, from deep in the Angeles National Forest to its confluence with the LA river near Chavez Ravine. All along the opportunities for recreation abound.
The upper bounds of the Arroyo Seco are at Red Box Saddle, where Red Box Road departs Angeles Crest and climbs the remaining thousand feet or so to Mt. Wilson. Any water that falls on Brown Mountain, the western slopes Mt. Disappointment, and Mt. Lowe or the eastern slopes along Angeles Crest eventually makes its way thousands of feet below, following gravity’s lead and meeting up with a multitude of smaller tributaries. A steady stream can usually be found flowing by the Jet Propulsion Laboratories (JPL), even though the Spanish name would suggest that the Arroyo Seco is often a “dry stream.”
Below Devils Gate Dam well over 20 miles of trails – both paved and dirt – line both sides of the channeled stream, serving those on foot, horseback and bike. The trails circle the Rose Bowl and climb and descend the surrounding banks. After passing under the iconic Colorado Street Bridge the crowds thin out and the din of the city above fades to the background as bird songs become clearer. The Lower Arroyo Seco is home to an archery range, a bird sanctuary, the Pasadena Casting Club, and San Pascual Stables.
The watershed is widest above Devil’s Gate Damn before the mountains close in around the stream just above JPL. Here Hahamonga Park offers plenty of trails for mountain bikers and hikers, as well as Frisbee golf and plenty of shade among the groves of oak. At the east entrance to JPL the stream still flows freely in the deep shade of the riparian vegetation of the Front Range. Here the Gabrielino Trail begins its long, deliberate, ascent along the banks of the drainage toward Switzer Falls, the Royal Gorge, Mt. Lowe, and far beyond, feeding into the vast network of trails which makes Angeles National Forest so accessible. Beyond the first few folds of the mountains it is easy forget the sprawling metropolis below.
Check out Arroyo Seco’s home page for more information on current conservation projects and the wide variety of recreation available in the Arroyo.