Tag Archives: Crystal Lake

Lewis Falls & Crystal Lake

Monday I headed up highway 39 with a group of friends for a short hike to Lewis Falls.  I had recently read about this hike on Modern Hiker and thought it would be good for us to do since we didn’t have a lot of time.  When we arrived at the trailhead we noticed a large boulder in the middle of the road and other large rocks and debris that had fallen down near where you were supposed to park.  We took this as a warning to park our vehicles a little further down the road.  The last thing I want when I return from a hike is a smashed car.

The trail was nice and pretty easy to follow for the first half.  It followed a creek and passed by some old cabins.  Some of the cabins looked in good repair and some were in ruins.

When we started to lose track of the trail we just kept following the creek upstream. There were some areas where we had to climb up rocks and cross the stream on a large fallen log which was kind of fun.

When we arrived at the falls we discovered a grip of folks there which explained all the cars at the trailhead. We hung around the falls for a bit and then quickly made our way back out.  This was definitely a short hike.

Since the hike took less time than we thought we decided to hop in our vehicles and drive a little further up the 39 and hike to Crystal Lake.  We found a spot to squeeze into and park and took another short hike to the lake.

The water level in the lake seemed low but there were still a lot of people there hanging out around the shore and I even saw a couple people fishing. It was the first time I had been to the lake and I felt like it would be a cool spot to kick back with a few brewskis, but it might be better to come around springtime when the lake is fuller.

Be sure to check out http://crystallake.name for updates and info about the Crystal Lake area if you plan on visiting.

Hiking the Windy Gap Trail

Last weekend we headed up highway 39 to the recently reopened Crystal Lake Recreation Area.  The entire area is not reopened but the road is opened to a day use picnic area and snack shop.  You can also access some trailheads here which you couldn’t previously.

We had to hike up a portion of the closed road from the parking area until we came across the Windy Gap trail marker.  We planned to take the trail up over the gap and down into the Little Jimmy trail camp.

The hike was great in the beginning, however you could tell the trail had been neglected for some time.  Some sections were partially washed out and there were also large trees laying across the trail.  Eventually we ran into a young brown-colored black bear standing right in front of us on the trail.

It didn’t take much to scare him off the trail, however he still lingered around watching us.  We decided to cut cross-country to a higher part of the trail to keep an eye on him, however he didn’t end up following us.  My guess is that he was heading down to the picnic area!

After getting over the gap and maneuvering across over 30 fallen trees in the trail we came to find that the whole other side of the mountains were covered in snow.  Little Jimmy camp was almost completely covered, except for one spot which was perfect for putting our tent down in.

Luckily for us one of the camp stoves wasn’t completely buried in snow and there was even a small pile of branches left behind we got to use.  Although it was a super nice day out it started getting cold quickly in the evening.  It was nice to get the fire going.

After we made dinner we stayed up huddled around the fire.  It was great not having anyone else around in the campsite.  We stayed up as long as we could enjoying the night but eventually the warmth of our tent and sleeping bags lured us in.

The morning was cool and crisp, but once the sun was out you didn’t even really need a jacket.  having a hot cup a coffee with the snow covered mountains all around was an awesome way to start the day.

The hike back was quick since it was all mostly down hill past Windy Gap.  On the way back we came across a group of rangers and the San Gabriel Mountains Trailbuilders who were gearing up to clear some of the fallen trees on the trail.  We gave them our count of fallen trees and thanked them for their efforts.