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Crystal Lake Recreation Area To Open Maybe Some Day

by Fredric L. Rice Wednesday, Sep. 13, 2006 at 4:47 PM

Crystal Lake -- when will it open?

Crystal Lake Recreat...
elec005.jpg, image/jpeg, 640x480

Crystal Lake Recreation Area To Open Maybe Some Day

Fredric L. Rice, 09/Sep/06

Located in the Angeles National Forest, the Crystal Lake Recreation Area is the largest camping and hiking area in the San Gabriel Mountains. Since the Williams Fire and the Curve Fire, however, the area has been closed to the public due to health and safety hazards associated with the dead and dying trees. (Falling tree limbs, falling trees, floods, choking ash and dust are all problems that take time to rectify.)

Over the past year considerable effort and expense has been put into re-opening the recreation area. Construction and repairs on Highway 39 heading up to the grounds has brought the highway up to standards for earthquake safety, and a considerable amount of blasting and earth moving has widened a notoriously narrow section of the highway, making the highway a two-lane road along its entire length.

There are currently discussions under way within the City of Azusa looking into funding the repairs needed to open the Angeles Crest Highway (Highway 2) section of road that used to connect Highway 2 to Crystal Lake and from there to Highway 39 heading down to Azusa. That effort would require something near 30 million dollars and isn’t scheduled any time soon.

Road building and repairs have a notoriously bad history for this mountain range since the geology of the area has resulted in whole sections of the highway sliding into the canyons below due to heavy rains and flooding. The history of the area, in fact, includes the waste of several tens of millions of dollars for a section of Highway 39 which had to be abandoned (included in the set of photographs provided) because the ground couldn’t be reworked to hold a road.

There’s also been extreme problems with pollution caused by filthy humans that think dumping their garbage on the ground or out the window of their vehicles is normal behavior. With the proposed opening of the Crystal Lake Recreation Area and the future opening of Highway 2, the U. S. Forest Service would have to deal with disgusting pigs whose home lifestyles or cultures include thoughtless garbage dumping, spray painting of roads, signs, rocks, and trees, and throwing burning cigarettes out their windows.

Since the Recreation Area and highway has been closed, the USFS has had to deal with such problems only up to mile marker 28 along the highway. Re-opening the area would mean that there would be an additional 12 miles of pollution, garbage dumping, spray painting, fires, homeless squatters, illegal Mexicans building shelters to live in, drugs, alcohol, people racing their cars, violent gangs, and all the usual problems that the USFS has to deal with, so I suspect the added burden has delayed the re-opening of the camping area.

While the Crystal Lake area has been closed, groups of volunteers have been performing clean-up tasks which include felling dead and damaged trees (to remove the safety hazard) cleaning out flooded camp sites, and repairing the nature trails and hiking trails around the camping grounds. This has been hot and sweaty work however it had to be done due to the damage to the trails caused by fires, rains, and floods.

One of the fully-completed hiking trails is the Lost Ridge Trail which has one end of the trail beginning at the bottom of Lake Road and the other end at the parking area at Deer Flats – a distance of less than a mile though the hike is a good one for views and examples of plant life.

Another fully-completed hiking trail is Pinyon Ridge Trail which forks off of the heavily damaged Soldier Creek Trail. (Photographs from Pinyon is included in this set of photographs.) This trail forms a loop about a mile long which crosses a number of streams.

The San Gabriel Mountains Trailbuilders repaired this trail not too long ago and while nearly all of it is still in excellent condition, the water at the start of the trail has allowed a considerable amount of vegetation to cover up the trail – the Trailbuilders will need to return to clear that once the Recreation Area opens up again.

There’s one other trail that forms a loop that’s been completely rebuilt and otherwise repaired, the name of which I can’t recall. That trail is about 1.5 miles long and starts and ends at the main road heading to the area’s Visitor Center (photographs of the Visitor Center are included in this set of photographs.)

When the Crystal Lake Recreation Area opens again, campers, hikers, and picnickers will be able to have hot food and cold drinks because there’s a “Trading Post and Kitchen” that’s been repaired and rebuilt so that it meets all of the usual restaurant requirements of Southern California.

Currently bicycle riders who make the long trip from down below to the gates of the Recreation Area are not allowed into the lake area because there are official safety inspections yet to be completed and there are other reasons why the area is closed. That’s a disappointment during the Summer months because having a place that serves cold drinks with ice would be extremely welcome.

Another issue that must be addressed before the area is opened is the water tanks and distribution network. There are four huge water tanks that are fed by an underground well which fills the tanks and then overflows back into the ground. The system used to draw from an open creek however deer shit became a problem so pipes were sunk to draw clear, pure water directly from the ground.

That water feeds into a network of filters stored in a small building which then provides the whole camp ground area with water via a network of pipes and faucets. Some of those faucets have been damaged and some of the underground pipes and some of the distribution boxes might need to be repaired once water starts flowing again.

Eventually the camping area will be re-opened. The area can easily handle 20,000 visitors on a week end though Highway 39 might not be capable of handling that volume and the U. S. Forest Service and Sheriff’s Offices might not be capable of handling that many people.

My impression is that the area will be repaired and cleaned up, certified and safety inspected, and ready to open by April of 2007.

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Visitor Center

by Fredric L. Rice Wednesday, Sep. 13, 2006 at 4:47 PM

Visitor Center...
elec007.jpg, image/jpeg, 640x480

I cleaned this place up, removed the brush, cut back the trees off of the building, repaired the windows. (Someone had broken into the building)

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by Fredric L. Rice Wednesday, Sep. 13, 2006 at 4:47 PM

elec009.jpg, image/jpeg, 640x480

All of the cooking boxes have been sand blasted cleaned.

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Pine 1

by Fredric L. Rice Wednesday, Sep. 13, 2006 at 4:47 PM

Pine 1...
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View from Pinyon Ridge 1

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by Fredric L. Rice Wednesday, Sep. 13, 2006 at 4:47 PM

elec020.jpg, image/jpeg, 1915x459

A panoramic view of the whole Crystal Lake Recreation Area ravine.

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by Fredric L. Rice Wednesday, Sep. 13, 2006 at 4:47 PM

elec022.jpg, image/jpeg, 640x480

Highway 39 heads down to the valley below. The dirt road to the lower right is the abandoned road that cost many millions.

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by Fredric L. Rice Wednesday, Sep. 13, 2006 at 4:47 PM

elec023.jpg, image/jpeg, 640x480

My bicycle and backpack looking up the road.

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Visitor Center

by Fredric L. Rice Wednesday, Sep. 13, 2006 at 4:47 PM

Visitor Center...
elec008.jpg, image/jpeg, 640x480

The side of the Visitor Center.

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Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 10 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
GPS Coordinates Fredric L. Rice Wednesday, Sep. 13, 2006 at 4:50 PM
Pond scum Quizling Wednesday, Sep. 13, 2006 at 10:06 PM
How can people help? A Wednesday, Sep. 13, 2006 at 11:11 PM
I agree about the trash / Volunteer Fredric L. Rice Thursday, Sep. 14, 2006 at 12:49 PM
What did you expect? Gunny Thursday, Sep. 14, 2006 at 12:57 PM
All true Fredric L. Rice Thursday, Sep. 14, 2006 at 1:49 PM

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