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Transit to Trails: Bus to Sam Merrill Trailhead

Apr 8, 2018

Hail, hiking enthusiasts! A 6-month pilot bus service will shuttle hikers from Memorial Park (a Gold Line stop) to the Sam Merrill Trailhead from April 7 to September 30, Saturdays and Sundays, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“The Trust for Public Land is excited to partner with the City of Pasadena, Edison International, Supervisor Barger’s office and the Wilderness Society to increase access to the San Gabriels.  Transit to open space projects are an important way to connect the short distances between our foothill cities and our local mountains,” Tori Kjer, Los Angeles Program Director said.

The Board of Supervisors approved a motion by Supervisor Kathryn Barger to partner with the City of Pasadena, the Trust for Public Land, Edison International and the Wilderness Society.

This new route, Pasadena Transit Route 88, will use clean fuel Compressed Natural Gas buses and serve stops along the route. Travel time to the trailhead is 23 minutes. Buses will leave every half hour from the northbound Raymond and Holly bus stop between 7:05 a.m. to 4:35 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. The last bus will depart from the Trailhead at 5 p.m. For more route or schedule information call 1-626-744-4055 or visit PasadenaTransit.net.

 

 

Sam Merrill Trail; photo by Kansas Sebastian via Flickr per Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

 

Sam Merrill Trail; photo by Kansas Sebastian via Flickr per Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

 

Sam Merrill Trail; photo by Kansas Sebastian via Flickr per Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

 

Though Sam Merrill Trail was originally created by Charles Warner and the Forest Conservation Club of Pasadena in the 1930s, after “the deluge of 1938” many of the trails were wiped away. Sam Merrill “overhauled and maintained” the trail in the 1940s, believing that public access to the ruins of the railway on Echo Mountain was vital.

 

Sam Merrill.

 

Merrill lived with the great John Muir one summer, which inspired a lifetime commitment to the outdoors and the Sierra Club. Though he was a clerk at the Superior Court of Los Angeles during his career, Merrill volunteered for the Sierra Club and led hikes and “outings” for over twenty years. After Merrill died in 1948, the trail (2.55 miles) was named after him.

 

Sam Merrill Trail; photo by Kansas Sebastian via Flickr per Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

 

Information below about the Sam Merrill Trail comes from John McKinney at the Los Angeles Times (1989):

Sam Merrill Trail begins at the former Cobb Estate, now a part of Angeles National Forest. A plaque placed by the Altadena Historical Society dedicates the estate ground as “a quiet place for people and wildlife forever.”

The Hike: From the great iron gate of the old Cobb Estate, follow the trail along the chain-link fence. Sign in at the trail register.

 

Sam Merrill Trail; photo by Kansas Sebastian via Flickr per Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

 

The path dips into Las Flores Canyon, crosses a seasonal creek in the canyon bottom, then begins to climb. As you begin your earnest but well-graded ascent, enjoy good over-the-shoulder views of the San Gabriel Valley and downtown Los Angeles. Two long, steep and mostly shadeless miles of travel bring you to a signed junction. Bear right and walk 100 yards along the bed of the old Mount Lowe Railway to the Echo Mountain ruins. Just before the ruins is a drinking fountain, very welcome if it’s a hot day.

 

Sam Merrill Trail; photo by Kansas Sebastian via Flickr per Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

 

Up top, you’ll spot the railway’s huge bull wheel, now embedded in cement, and just below is a pile of concrete rubble, all that remains of the railway depot after it was dynamited by the Forest Service in 1959.

The steps and foundation of the Echo Mountain House are great places to take a break and to enjoy the view straight down precipitous Rubio Canyon, the route of Lowe’s railway. A bit down the mountain to the east stood the other hotel–the Chalet–but nothing remains of it.

Echo Mountain takes its name from the echo that bounces around the semicircle of mountain walls. I’ve never managed to get very good feedback; perhaps even echoes fade with time.

Sam Merrill Trail

Cobb Estate to Echo Mountain : 5 miles round trip; 1,400-foot elevation gain

—John McKinney, “Scaling the Ghostly Ruins of Echo Mountain Resort” (1989)

 

Sam Merrill Trail; photo by Kansas Sebastian via Flickr per Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

 

Sam Merrill Trail; photo by Kansas Sebastian via Flickr per Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

 

Sam Merrill Trail; photo by Kansas Sebastian via Flickr per Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

 

 

All photos thanks to Kansas Sebastian at Flickr
(sharing per Creative Commons [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0])

 




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