ADVENTURE HIKES AND CANYONEERING© Christopher Earls Brennen
IN THE SAN GABRIELS
Hike G5. Peacock Canyon
- Hiking time: 4.3 hours
- Estimated hiking distance: 2.5 miles
- Elevation gain: None
- USGS Topo Maps: Mt. Baldy, Glendora
- Difficulties: Some downclimbing, one rappel that can be bypassed
- Special equipment: 100ft rope and rappelling gear if desired
- ACA Rating: 3A II
Cattle Canyon runs west from the shadow of Mount Baldy to join the East Fork of the San Gabriel River and, in doing so, creates the east-west Glendora Ridge as its southern wall. Several attractive canyons descend the north slope of Glendora Ridge feeding into the larger Cattle Canyon. Among these are Peacock Canyon and its western neighbour, Dime Canyon. The Glendora Ridge Road runs along the top of the ridge and thus allows access to the tops of these canyons. This easy adventure hike descends Peacock Canyon. It is best in the late fall when the leaf colors make it most attractive.
This hike requires a car shuttle. From Los Angeles take the 210 Freeway east to the Azusa Avenue exit and Highway 39 northward into the mountains. Once past the Morris and San Gabriel dams, turn right on the East Fork road and drive 5mi to the place where the Glendora Mountain Road starts at a sharp switchback right. Do not take this road yet but proceed straight on for another 50yds to where the East Fork road crosses the Cattle Canyon river by way of a wooden bridge. Park one vehicle close to this bridge (34o13.76'N 117o46.13'W, elevation 1860ft). Then drive up the Glendora Mountain Road. After 4.9mi there is a tee-junction where the road reaches the ridgetop at Horse Canyon Saddle. Turn left here onto Glendora Ridge. At 4.1mi from the tee-junction you will come to a promontory between Dime and Peacock Canyons. Stop here and look east to where the road rounds the head of Peacock Canyon. Try and identify a place beyond the saddle (Peacock Saddle) where a notable scree slope descends from the road. That is the drop-in point. It is 1mi from your viewpoint at a place just before another promontory. Park in the dirt area on the right side of the road (34o13.12'N 117o44.60'W, elevation 3590ft). The mile marker nearby reads 5.08.
Leave the road (34o13.12'N 117o44.60'W, elevation 3590ft) and start straight down the steep scree slope toward the wooded canyon bottom below. The going is steep but not difficult. Initially the gully is quite open but gradually becomes more heavily wooded. After about 1hr you will encounter a series of small waterfalls, all of which can be bypassed or downclimbed though careful route finding may be needed. Shortly thereafter, at an elevation of about 2670ft, an equally large gully enters from the left and the canyon becomes less steep and the going faster. This is a pretty, bucolic canyon and you should linger to enjoy it. We came this way one dry December day and the fall colors played with the sunlight. Soon you encounter the first substantial waterfall, a 35ft inclined drop at an elevation of 2630ft. However this is fairly easily bypassed on the left.
The canyon continues to descend moderately gently but with some rather brushy sections. However a faint use-trail begins to be evident and eases the way. At 2330ft (and 2hrs 20min from the start) a sizeable branch canyon enters on the right and 10min later you will come to the second substantial waterfall, a 20ft drop that is best bypassed on the right using a narrow use-trail with some exposure. Another 20min beyond this you will come to a small 5ft waterfall that is awkward to manage. It can be downclimbed on the right or you may wish to practice rappelling using a small tree high on the left as the anchor.
Just about 30yds downstream of this 5ft drop at an elevation of 2200ft, you arrive at the largest waterfall in Peacock Canyon. It is a 35ft vertical drop into a knee deep pool. There are a number of small trees that can be used as the anchor; the rappel has an easy entry and is straightforward. However, if you wish to avoid rappelling there is a narrow and precipitous trail up and around the waterfall on the right. The end of Peacock Canyon is just about 50yds downstream from the big waterfall. You will emerge into the broad Cattle Canyon and its flat, rock-strewn bottom at 34o13.80'N 117o45.03'W and an elevation of 2140ft about 3.5hrs from the start. Cross the river and find the dirt road that traverses Cattle Canyon running here along the north side of the canyon. Turn left and begin the gentle walk back down Cattle Canyon toward the place where the return vehicle was parked. It takes about 40min to cover the 1.4mi to the wooden bridge (34o13.76'N 117o46.13'W, elevation 1860ft). You should complete the hike in about 4.3hrs.
Last updated 9/9/99.
Christopher E. Brennen