100Hikes

Resolved to hike 100 times by 2010

Hike 16 – Vetter Mountain Lookout

Posted By on July 1, 2009 in Hikes, Photos | 11 comments

An unexpected meeting at the best real estate in Southern California.

I was strongly impelled to hike today. Even after rolling out of bed early and driving through the rain towards the mountains, I was consumed with a strong desire to hike. I’m officially addicted to the outdoors!

Another good reason to be outdoors was that it was National Get Outdoors Day.  This annual event started two years ago by The American Recreation Coalition and is designed to motivate children to put down their cell phones and video games and to explore the world outside. Being the big kid that I am, I was happy to oblige.

My first hike of the day would be to the Vetter Mountain Lookout. I briefly read about this hike in the book Trails of the Angeles: 100 Hikes in the San Gabriels by John W. Robinson, but seemed to miss the fact that the lookout isn’t just a mountain peak, but also a Forestry Service fire lookout tower! I hiked up the fire road and arrived at the tower to the warm welcome of the two volunteer staff. Volunteer Ken showed me around the 14×14 foot single-room building – nicknamed “the cab.” Although it only takes a second or two to see everything in the room, I could have spent an hour looking at all the framed historic photos, topographical maps, and fire-spotting tools that the tower is equipped with. (Check out the video below for a tour of the lookout tower.) The view out of the large windows of the tower is one worth the time to gaze out at. So I’m told. The clouds hung low for most of the morning, dunking the mountain in a thick fog.

After a half hour at the tower talking to volunteer Ken, I headed back. This time, I would take the Vetter Mountain Trail instead of the fire road I took to get here, looping around back through Charlton Flats. Some websites and books list this hike at about 1.6 miles RT, but with the gate locked, it’s at least 2 miles RT via the shortest route (Wolf Tree Nature Trail).

What I learned on the hike:

  1. Apparently, the Charlton Flats gate has been locked for a good portion of the last few years.
  2. Taking the fire road up and the trail back doubles the length of the hike from the parking lot to the lookout tower.
  3. Some mountain bikers don’t seem to care that hikers have the right of way. I find it irresponsible for bikers to go 20mph down a hiking trail and expect the hikers to watch were they are riding.
  4. Interested in becoming a volunteer Fire Lookout? Check out the Angeles National Forest Fire Lookout Association
  5. Volunteer Ken would like to spread the word about his friend’s quest to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Here’s his blog.

GPS Stats:

  • Date of hike: June 13th, 2009
  • Location: Charlton Flats – Angeles National Forest, California
  • Length: 4.4 miles
  • Duration: 3 hours, 7 minutes
  • Average speed: ±1.4 mph (more like 2.3 mph)
  • Altitude at start: 5,381 feet
  • Altitude min.max: 5,311/5,917 feet

This map was made with the data my GPS captured on the hike.
For a more detailed trip report map, check this out or click on the map.

Video:

Photos:

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A fireman pulls a fire hose through the woods. The forestry service took advantage of the weather to light some controlled fires.


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A view to the north.


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A thistle in bloom.


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Lots of wildflowers in bloom along the trail.


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Vetter Mountain Lookout


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With Volunteer Ken at the lookout tower deck.


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Ken is looking through an out-of-print Angeles National Forest atlas. Me wants!!


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Each black dot represents a lightning strike within the last two weeks.


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Nature lovers could spend hours watching the wildlife in the area.


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The trip down from the peak.


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I'm dumbstruck on what beetle this is. Any help?


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A sleeping wasp. They're able to attach themselves to foliage with their mandibles while they get a little shut eye.


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Eumecomera cyanipennis


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This is a snow plant (Sarcodes sanguinea), a protected species. Seed and plant gathering are protected by law.

11 Comments

  1. Scott M July 1, 2009

    Ah, Vetter Mtn! I've been there half-a-dozen times… I don't think I've ever been there when it's been open, though! Cool! Great pictures, too…

    Scott

    (Still having trouble logging in via Disqus!)

  2. Kolby July 1, 2009

    Hey Scott, Thanks for the message! Are you saying that you haven't seen the lookout tower open or the gate open?

    Sorry to hear about the Disqus login issues. Have you been able to to it on other sites? What browser are you using? Have you tried to log in using a different browser?

  3. Scott M July 1, 2009

    Hey, Kolby! I meant that I've never been there when the tower was open. I've been inside a couple of lookout towers in my day, but never Vetter.

    My main browser is the latest Firefox (3.5)–and usually as-of the latest nightly build. It doesn't work properly in Chromium either (again, latest build). I just tried the latest Opera (10) and, nope. (At this point, yer probably thinkin', jeezus doesn't this guy use any NON-beta browsers?!)

    I AM able to login to disqus at their site.

  4. July 3, 2009

    wow nice photos. I've been to Vetter once, I really like it. I didn't know the tower is open some times, that would have been cool.

    As for mountain bikers, I agree they are pretty inconsiderate. I've been lucky to not have had to deal with them in a long time.

    If you ever read of any future altercations between hikers and mountain bikers, it will probably have something to do with me sticking my elbow out :P

  5. Real Estate Marketing July 10, 2009

    I'm speechless, the place is so beautiful, do they allow camping in that area pretty fascinating the flowers are so pretty too bad they are rare. That was quite a trip for you isn't it? I wish I could go there too.

  6. thejfk July 10, 2009

    Great video interviewing volunteer.

  7. Back Massager July 31, 2009

    So cool videos, thanks for sharing them, I truly appreciate it.

  8. Ryan September 1, 2009

    Amazing photos for sure. The colors are so crisp and clear and the views were breathtaking, I wish that I could go there when I am done with my real estate license courses in the fall.

  9. russellkepler September 5, 2009

    It's hard to believe the Vetter Mountain Lookout has been destroyed by an arson lit fire. So sad that one selfish, thoughtless person could destroy so much valuable wildlife, foliage and history.

  10. SusanMCash September 16, 2009

    Sidewalk phase: CCR 2450 GTS is in CCR Powerlite, CCR 3650 GTS is a model of snow blower is lightweight and compact, very simple task and make the disk capacity of the pavement and the best snow blower landscape around the multiple layers of instruments.

  11. Jim Hogue August 4, 2010

    The “dumbstruck” beetle is the longhorn beetle Callimoxys sanguinicollis and the one labeled as Eumecomera is the blister beetle Lytta stygica

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. 100hikes.com » Blog Archive » Hike 17 – Mt. Hillyer via Horse Flats - [...] my second hike on this Angeles National Forest weekend (see Hike #16), I headed a little deeper into the ...
  2. 100hikes.com » » The Future of 100hikes.com - [...] and Newcombs Ranch. Charlton Flats, and areas of Chilao Flats have been confirmed as burned.  Vetter Mountain Lookout was ...
  3. National Forest Atlases | The Hike Guy - [...] my 100hikes project, I was fortunate enough to visit the Vetter Mountain Lookout before the Station Fire took it ...

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