NOTE: Due to the San Gabriel Complex fire of June 2016, the Fish Canyon Access Trail and the Fish Canyon Falls Trail are closed through at least September 2017. For additional information, check the Azusa Rock website. Therefore, the following hike writeup is provided for the historical value only.
I wouldn’t normally write about an access trail. I mean, access trails are just a way to get to the real trail. But this quirky 0.7 mile Fish Canyon Access Trail through a rock quarry is an exception. Why? Because prior to the construction of the access trail, you had to wait for select Saturdays and be driven to the trailhead in Vulcan Materials vans to get to the trail. With the access trail, you could just walk through. So here’s my story of my first walk through the Vulcan Materials property on my way to Fish Canyon Falls.
Distance: 1.4 miles
Duration: 1.0 hours
Elevation Gain: 50 feet ±
It was a hot Friday morning in October 2014. My friend Aska and I headed out to Azusa to hike Fish Canyon. Having hiked Fish Canyon before when hikers used to be shuttled through the rock quarry in Vulcan Materials vans, I looked forward to the new access trail. I planned on taking lots of photos. Since it was just me and Aska and I had the camera, she ended up in most of the photos.
The first thing we noticed about the new Fish Canyon Access Trail is the large and spacious parking lot. Since it was a Friday morning, we didn’t expect the parking lot to be full. But when we pulled up and saw the parking lot completely empty, we were definitely surprised. It looked like a ghost town. I picked a parking spot close to the gate and off we were.
Empty Fish Canyon parking lot
We saw a large, bulletin board styled sign on the north end of the parking lot with a map and background information of the Fish Canyon Access Trail.
We checked out the sign for a couple minutes, took a photo and then headed toward the entrance gate. This is the gate that gets closed and locked after hours. We stepped through the gate and officially started our “hike” on the access trail.
Fish Canyon Access Trail entrance
Once through the gate, we found ourselves on a well-graded dirt path that led through the Vulcan Materials property. The pathway was fenced in and to be perfectly honest, not a very exciting trail to be on. Although portions of the Fish Canyon Access Trail were seemingly only fenced in on one side, it still gave us the impression of walking through a state penitentiary.
Fencing or not, the trail was well maintained and there was never any doubt as to where we should be walking.
Just your average walk through the rock quarry
The Vulcan Materials Company makes no attempt to hide anything on their property, but they appear to be very serious about keeping hikers on the designated trail. We saw numerous signs warning us to stay on the trail. Not that there’s anything off the trail that even remotely looks interesting or worth exploring. It’s a rock quarry and materials plant we were walking through and the views are pretty much what you would expect.
Part of the trail ran across from the now closed Van Tassel Ridge and we could see an ominous looking mining operation going on full steam on the hill. There were places along the path where the noise from the heavy machinery was quite loud, but it didn’t bother us.
Aska Takes Five on the Fish Canyon Access Trail
The trail continued in this fashion for a somewhat tedious half mile or so before we came to another trailhead type of sign at the beginning of what appeared to be a real hiking trail. Both of us were happy to finally get past the confines of the rock quarry. The trail led through a dry and overgrown field.
It was getting hotter and it was already hot when we started. We stopped for a quick water break before continuing. Although it was just a field we were walking through, we both perked up, knowing we were getting closer to the actual Fish Canyon Falls trailhead.
Regular hiking trail once you get past the rock quarry
After a few more minutes of hiking, we came to clearing with yet another large trail sign. The sign was located at the area just outside the actual Fish Canyon Falls Trail in the general location where the Vulcan Materials Company vans used to drop hikers off to start the Fish Canyon Hike.
This sign provided information about the Fish Canyon Falls hike and included commentary by Dan Simpson of Dan’s Hiking Pages fame. The gate leading to the Fish Canyon Falls bridge was just past the sign.
New sign at the old Fish Canyon Falls trailhead
I told Aska the hike started with a trek across a short bridge and that fifty feet in, she’d feel like she was totally in the wilderness. Aska posed for a picture just inside the gate. We crossed through the gate to the actual Fish Canyon trailhead. We continued onward to Fish Canyon, of course. but that is the subject of the Fish Canyon Falls Hike write-up. Which you are invited to check out.
The familiar bridge starting the Fish Canyon Falls hike
All in all, we found the walk on the Fish Canyon Access Trail a tad boring. But we obviously appreciated that the trail was provided. In some ways, the access trail was kind of cool in offbeat sort of way. If nothing else, we got to walk a little further than the old shuttle van route. So there you have it, a walk through a rock quarry.