Hiking It, Learning It & Seeing Merlin

Nov 7, 2011

Sidle along narrow steps and clamber over rocks as you hike the Mount Lowe Railway’s former route with its complex funicular system. (When’s the last time you scheduled something “funicular” into your day?)

Raise your binoculars to catch sight of a wrentit. A what-it? It’s a long-tailed North American songbird that is dedicated to a life of monogamy, sings to defend its home, and is the only American member of the Old World babbler family. Oh, that wrentit.

Come join in on the remaining Arroyos & Foothills Conservancy‘s docent-led hikes that continue through the beginning of December.

On Saturday, November 12th, engineer John Harrigan will lead the way along the route of the late 19th-century Mount Lowe Railway, explaining the technical workings of a railroad that once operated on a mountainside, by cable, with ascending and descending cars counterbalanced (yikes!).

A Merlin

November 19th will be a morning to commune with the birds. Kathi Ellsworth of the Pasadena Audubon Society will be addressing the above-mentioned wrentit, as well as the northern mockingbird, the California thrasher, the California quail, the mourning dove—and of course, Merlin (pictured left).

Note: Do a “dummy check” (a constant ritual in our home) and make sure you’ve packed your binoculars before you head on out.

Finally, start December with a strenuous workout to learn some local history (and get into fighting shape for the days of feasting ahead) by hiking with trails expert and railroad historian Paul Ayers. He will guide you 1.5 miles uphill to the east ridge of Rubio Canyon, pointing out artifacts he’s discovered over the last decade while maintaining the trails here.

Please check out AFC’s site for details about proper clothing and equipment; levels of difficulty and experience required; and directions to meet-up areas.

Arroyo & Foothills Conservancy
Final docent-led hikes of 2011
Saturday, Nov. 12, 9 a.m.: Mt. Lowe Rail Mechanics
Saturday, Nov. 19, 9 a.m.: Birding Hike
Saturday, Dec. 3, 9 a.m.: Hike to Rubio’s East Ridge
For more information, visit Arroyos & Foothills Conservancy website, call 626.796.0782,
Or e-mail Sean Howell at



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