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Bailey Canyon Nature Trails

Into the woods

This afternoon’s Sunday adventure took me back to Bailey Canyon Park in Sierra Madre. This time we took Owen, and rather than heading up the challenging Bailey Canyon Trail to Jones Peak, we explored the family-friendly nature trails in Bailey Canyon Park.

We headed up on Sunday mid-afternoon, after church and a short rest. The weather was quite different from the conditions the day before. Sunday was clear and mild, not too hot and not at all cold. It was a very pleasant day for a walk in the park with man’s best friend. When we arrived at the park, there were a few families picnicking; even so, there was plenty of available parking in the small lot. I assume that the early morning hikers had long reached the peak and returned home, leaving ample parking spots. Owen was happy to be out and about again and exploring new smells and sounds. He bounded out of the car, leashed and ready to go. After a quick minute to gather our things and put on some bug spray, we were ready for another new adventure. We walked over to the trailhead nearby and started our trek through the picnic areas and through the turnstile.

We followed the same trail that I did the day prior, heading north on the paved road, past the sunflower-filled debris basin and onto the Canyon View Trail. We opted to turn to the right and crossed the bridge to the Live Oak Nature Trail. This offered a trek through a green live oak forest, with chaparral wildflowers in bloom. There were also some large patches of pretty, bright red-orange flowers that appeared to be nasturtium, an ornamental garden flower that is considered invasive in some areas of California but is edible, with a peppery flavor.

We came to a point in the nature trail that was very overgrown. We could see the metal piping of the numbered sign posts, but couldn’t quite figure out a good way to get to the rest of the trail. With that we turned around and hiked through overgrown mustard plants, and came to the clearing not far from the bridge. Still wanting more of a hike, we continued north on the Canyon View Trail, which followed the canyon walls. The trail ended about a quarter-mile from the junction with the Bailey Canyon Trail to Jones Peak. There was once a small waterfall at the trail’s end, however, it had dried up a while ago. Instead, we could see outlines of where water once flowed over the rocks, and there was a sort of a teepee made from sticks that Owen went into.

There was once a waterfall here
Explore more in a cool little canyon

After a water break and chatting with some fellow hikers who also went with a doggo, we started the walk back to the car. Despite some rocky portions that I thought were a bit slippery for Owen, and more so myself, we arrived back at the trailhead and the car pretty quickly. This park adventure proved to be just long enough for a happy pup still on the mend.

Some things to consider:

There is parking at Bailey Canyon Wilderness Park, however spots tend to fill up quickly on weekend mornings. In case you decide to arrive early, as do many of the peak hikers, there is fortunately ample street parking. Just be sure not to park where there are no parking signs and be courteous of the residents in the neighborhood.

The park is one of the oldest of its kind in So Cal, and features the two nature trails, along with fire pits and picnic benches at the base of the foothills in Sierra Madre. There is also a flush toilet with running water, which is a definite plus for any wilderness area.

The area is prone to flash flooding during strong rains. Indeed, the photo above shows a memorial stone dedicated to the memory of a father and son who were swept away in a 1994 flash flooding event. Be sure to check weather reports, and when in doubt, postpone the hike. The mountains will still be there, I promise.

While many parts of the canyon are shaded, and there are plenty of trees in the park, there are areas where you can catch some sun. Be sure to bring some sunscreen and plenty of water.

There are portions of both trails that are rather overgrown. The trails were not as clear as the Bailey Canyon Trail leading up to Jones Peak. It was easier to get through the Canyon View Trail, but it was still pretty overgrown in some points, especially as you headed further up the canyon.

Overgrown parts of the Canyon View Trail.

Bailey Canyon was a fun adventure for our doggo, allowing him to get out and explore without being too strenuous. We had a great time traversing some easy trails. And, as always, Owen got to stop for a treat afterward. He enjoyed his Starbucks pup cup with plenty of free pets as we relaxed outside the coffee shop in pretty, quaint downtown Sierra Madre. Happy tails!

The happy hiker

The Haas family

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