A simple walking hike with a wide, non-challenging path through the hills above Monrovia. Makes a nice alternative when Canyon Park is closed.
As long as I've lived in Monrovia, Canyon Park has been closed more days than not. First the massive Bobcat Fire washed through, making hillsides unstable and subject to mudslides. Then, more recently, winds knocked down trees blocking roads and pathways.
Around the corner, however, this wilderness preserve has remained open. It's a simple winding walk frequented by locals out, many out for a regular walk. The winding path is always wide and never excessively steep or challenging. Since I bring my four year old son with me, the risks here are very low compared to many other hikes we go on. There are some steep hillsides, but the path is always wide enough that I don't have to hold his hand to keep him safe.
There are bears and mountain lions in the area. But this is a populated hike and your risks of running into them are quite slim. The bears do occasionally come down into the residential neighborhood, so they are definiately around. There are also rattlesnakes and poison oak.
The biggest danger here, in my opinion, is the sun. Our most recent visit occurred in March on an almost rainy day and it was very pleasant. There are not a lot of shade trees over the path, so on a sunny day you will have little escape.
Some of the native plants that stood out on this hike were the scrub oaks and coast live oaks, the laural sumac, wild cucumber, poison oak which was growing out of rock in many places, and several wildflowers that were just starting to bloom: lupine, California four o'clocks, and wallflower. The typical amount of sagebrush and buckwheat, all looking beautiful in the March seasonal climate.
There were a lot of invasive plants on this hike, a lot of Spanish broom (in bloom), some tobacco tree, black mustard, and a lot of fountain grass.
The entrance we use for this hike is on Ridgeside Drive. It is located in a residential neighborhood, through what feels like an easement of a driveway on someone's property. The road around the entrance has many signs warning of the need for a residential or guest permit to park there. You should park several blocks away, but ticketing is rare.
To get there, head north on N. Canyon Blvd. as if heading to Monrovia Canyon Park, but a few hundred feet before the entrance, make a left on Ridgeside Dr. Keep an eye out for a bright orange sign on someone's driveway that warns you that is not the hiking trail. That is because the next driveway is the hiking trail (and they probably get a lot of lost visitors).