california, Camping, dogs, Family, Hiking, outdoors, Pets, Travel

Snow Much Fun in the San Gabriel Mountains

There’s something magical about snow covered mountains. This is especially true in Southern California where we really don’t get snow at elevations under about 5000 feet.

Last weekend, as we prepared for the advent of spring, we headed up our local mountains in search of an adventure for our pets. About an hour away from home, north of the city of Azusa up California 39 is Crystal Lake Recreation Area. I’ve written about this area in a prior post. Crystal Lake was the starting point for our hike to Mt. Islip over the summer. Heading back at the end of winter yielded a very different experience. Crystal Lake was now a winter wonderland.

The drive up to the campground was pretty uneventful. There was no snow at the lower elevations, and as we ascended into snow levels, the road was plowed. As Crystal Lake isn’t a ski area, like Mt. Baldy or Wrightwood, there was very little traffic heading up. That said, it was a popular area for snow play, so parking was tight. Still we parked in a reasonable amount of time and got out just as our dog began whining with canine excitement.

We hung out around the campgrounds, which had small slopes enough for sledding. Owen had a great time sniffing around and bounding happily in the snow. Penny looked a sweet little snow bunny in her unicorn harness as she hopped around. We kept a close eye on her to make sure that she didn’t get too cold, as we’ve read that hypothermia can be dangerous for a domesticated rabbit.

Snow dog
Penelope sledding
Penny and Sami sled down a small hill

It was a fun afternoon of snow play. With a rather short drive from the San Gabriel valley, and reasonable traffic, Crystal Lake Recreation Area was the perfect site for a snow day with the pets. Between our fluffy dog and bunny, we had many happy tales.

Snowin’ Owen

Some things to consider:

Adventure passes are required to park at Crystal Lake recreation area as it is in the Angeles National Forest. Adventure passes are sold at many retailers, including REI. If you plan on visiting other Forest Service lands, an America the Beautiful parks pass is the best way to go. At $80, the pass offers a year of access to national parks and other federal lands.

Before heading out, be sure to check current road conditions. In a snowstorm, roads may be closed or chains may be required. The CalTrans website has up-to-date road information, or you can call 1-800-427-7623.

There are many other snowy spots in the San Gabriel Mountains that are fairly short drives from the San Gabriel Valley, especially along the Angeles Crest. Just pick a happy trail and go. It’ll be snow much fun.

Emily and Penny

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