Smith Mountian, ANF

fun hike to the peak w/ marcia & kelly

April 7, 2013

The Angeles National Forest (ANF) of the U.S. National Forest Service is located in the San Gabriel Mountains of Los Angeles County.

7-mile out & back - Difficulty Rating: Moderate/Difficult

I've hiked Smith Mountain about a year ago and it was a fun challenging hike. It's a 7-mile out and back. The first 3-miles is a steady uphill to the saddle, lots of people just hike up to the saddle and head back down. I really don't understand that, if you hike 3 miles and there is only a 1/2 mile to finish the hike to the peak, do the peak!

Once you hit the saddle the hard part starts, it gets a little steep. On this hike I was joined by my friend Marcia and she brought her friend Kelly. I think this was Kelly's first hike in a long time. Both Marcia and Kelly workout together during the week so I thought I would take them on a hike that is a little workout.

We started about 8:00 am and it was cloudy when we arrived at the Bear Creek trailhead so we couldn't see the peak yet, about a mile into the hike the clouds towards the top of the peak parted and we had our first glimpse of where we were headed, the girls were a little surprised.

It took a little over and hour to reach the saddle, we took a few minutes rest before heading up to the peak. The trekking poles that we all had really helped us on this part of the hike. We could dig them in while we were climbing to prevents us from sliding down the trail. Trekking poles do look dorky but they really do help out, if you never tried them before, do.

On the way up, you come upon some rocks you have to pull yourself up, so I grab onto this rock with my right hand, and pull myself up and there was this branch that had been cut and it was facing down like a spear, and it speared me right in my side. I was wearing two shirts so it didn't actually go in, but it left such a bruise, about 5” long, that a few days later it did start to bleed and it scabbed up. So happy it actually did go in. I wasn't focused on my surroundings and it almost cost me.

The first half of the climb, you can't see the peak. And I thought we were almost to the top, and was telling Marcia and Kelly that we were close, and when I got to what I thought was the top, I could see we were only half way there and told the girls that, and when they got to where I was standing they were a little disappointed, but that was okay and within 20 minutes we were all three standing on the peak. Marcia left a note for us in the peaks journal, we snapped some photos, ate a Balance Bar and we were headed back down.

Going back down to the saddle is almost as hard as it is going up. You really need to dig your trekking poles into the trail to keep you from slipping, it works. Kelly I think fell on her butt about three times, I think her wearing tennis shoes on this hike might have had something to do with that, but she made it down without doing too much damage, for this being Kelly's first real hike, she did great. Marcia's a pro now, we've completed a few tough hikes together over the last year so she had no trouble at all.

The hike back down to the car from the saddle was a long 3-miles downhill. I kept on looking up to the peak and it was nice knowing we were just there. I know, it's really not a big deal, it's only a 7-mile out and back hike, but it was challenging, it really is a peak and it was super fun.

It's easy to get here too. Just take the 210 Freeway to the Azusa exit and head east for 18-miles and you'll see the parking lot on your left and the trailhead is right next to the bathroom. You'll need your National Forest Adventure Pass to park here, you can pick one up at the rangers station or at your favorite outdoors store.

This is a fun hike and I would recommend it.
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