|Mt. Lukens from the Rim-of-the-Valley Trail|
That changed this weekend when I paid Lukens another visit, this time from the La Crescenta side of the mountain. Parking at Deukmajian Wilderness Park in La Crescenta, I climbed the Crescenta View Trail to Lukens' summit and then looped back down to the trailhead in Dunsmore Canyon via the Haines Canyon Motorway/Rim-of-the-Valley Trail. I'd like to attribute it to my maturation as a hiker and my greater familiarity with, and appreciation for the San Gabriel Mountains and the Angeles National Forest (others might call it my naivete), but this visit to Lukens was nothing like my previous trip years ago. To the contrary, this trip, dare say, was downright enjoyable.
I arrived a Deukmajian around 11:30 a.m. because climbing a steep south-facing slope is always more enjoyable in the mid-day sun. Surprisingly (or maybe not surprisingly) I had no problem finding a place to park. In all seriousness, temps were only in the mid to high-70s so it really was quite pleasant out. But climbing this trail during the heat of a mid-summer day could be brutal.
From the parking area, I made my way up the main fire road in Dunsmore Canyon for approximately 0.5 miles. Here, the La Crescenta View Trail branches to the right where it begins its ascent up the rugged ridge on the east side of Dunsmore Canyon. The climb here is fairly gently, but it becomes more aggressive the higher up you go. In fairly short order, over-the-shoulder views of the Verdugos, the Los Angeles Basin, and the San Fernando Valley really start to pop.
|Start of the Crescenta View Trail|
|Over-the-Shoulder Look Into Dunsmore Canyon|
|Crescenta View from the Crescenta View Trail|
After about 2 miles of climbing, you reach a level spot along the ridge where folks have constructed a large stone circle reminiscent of the wind-breaks one sees atop Mt. Baldy and some of the other local peaks. Looking southwest from this vantage point, the switch-backs of the Rim-of-the-Valley Trail can be seen slicing across the west side of Dunsmore Canyon. If you do this hike as a loop, this trail will be your descent route.
|The Path Weaving Its Way Up the Steep Slope|
|Typical Trail Conditions|
|Rock Circle View|
|Ascending the Steep Ridgeline|
|Big Tujunga Canyon from Mt. Lukens Fire Road|
|Josephine, Strawberry, Lawlor, Deception, Disappointment, San Gabriel, Markham, Lowe, Occidental, and Wilson|
After locating the benchmark on the far northwest corner of the flat summit, I spent a bit of time lounging about, taking in the view, and plotting my descent down the Haines Canyon Motorway which is plainly visible to the southwest. Nobody I spoke to on top could confirm the existence of a junction with the Rim-of-the-Valley Trail back to Dunsmore Canyon, but both Tom Harrison and Google Earth told me it was there, so I threw caution to the wind and dropped off the south side of the summit to begin my downward trek.
The path here is basically a single-track on an abandoned fire road that nature is trying to reclaim. The road swoops widely back and forth, alternating between the sun and shade, as it slowly descends between Haines Canyon and Cooks Canyon. Approximately 3 miles from the summit, the Rim-of-the-Valley Trail branches south into Cooks Canyon at a pretty obvious trail junction. I was expecting this junction to be more difficult to locate based upon my conversations with folks on the summit, but there is no missing or mistaking it unless you’re just no looking for it.
|The Very Scenic Summit of Lukens|
|Survey Marker Atop Lukens|
|Descending Haines Canyon Motorway|
|Cooks Canyon Water Tank|
|View Across Cooks Canyon to Crescenta View Trail|
|Trail Junction for the Rim-of-the-Valley Trail|
A short distance downstream, you climb a small ridge which is not that difficult, but it is a bit of a disappointment because your mindset at this stage is that you're already down. The pain is brief, however, and in no time you're back in Dunsmore Canyon and headed for the trailhead which is nicely stocked with real restrooms, a water fountain with decent and cool water, and a grassy area with picnic tables where you can chill and relish the day you just spent in the amazing local mountains. I recognize I'm late to the party, but check this place out if you haven't already. It's muy bueno.
|Lovely Cooks Canyon|
|Blessed Water in Cooks Canyon|
|Trail Through Cooks Canyon|