The city of Pasadena limits snake way up into Eaton Canyon for the water rights. Once you step off the Altadena curb from Pinecrest into the canyon to hike up to Mt. Wilson or just to Henninger or Idlehour on the old Toll Road, you’re in Pas for at least a little while … if you can get through, that is.
The key to the hiking highway has long been given to Pinecrest neighbors irate at the noise non-Sierra Club types — the kids who party and sometimes graffiti the rocks at the Eaton falls — can make down in the canyon.
The sometimes persnickety neighbors can close down that gate pretty early. I remember leaving my hiking party behind to run down the trail for half a mile to force them to keep it open well before sunset so we could get out of there without having to hike all the way down to the Nature Center.
Attorney and hiking activist Paul Ayers, whose son is pictured above at the gate in question, asks these questions:
On Friday, my fourth grader James had the day off so we decided to go hiking. After finding that Pasadena had closed the lower Arroyo Seco we wandered over to Eaton because James wanted a walk by “a stream”. Out of habit I swung by the Pinecrest gate and… found it opened; hikers were parking and walking down to the falls, up the Toll Road, etc. James and I went down the road and up to the falls and had a fine time; I have attached a photo of James at the gate. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that no one, including a county fire fighter I met at the gate, had any rational explanation as to when the gate openings began, what the open hours were, etc. Most troubling was the fire fighter’s statement that the gate was “unlocked by a neighbor who has a key”. And the signage on the gates still says the City of Pasadena has no responsibility for the gate and if it is locked when you’re inside, tough luck.
Pasadena Water & Power owns the land at the access point. That entity according to letters I have seen signed by Mayor Bogaard, was responsible for the closure. The closure was in many ways irrational. There was nothing particularly unsafe in Eaton after the rains stopped in 2005 and if safety was the issue [which Mayor Bogaard stated it was] why did access to the “unsafe area” from the Nature Center and other Eaton Canyon access points remain unfettered? Given the lack of logic of the City’s position it is no wonder that the trail community came to believe that safety was not the issue, but rather that the Pinecrest “neighbors” simply didn’t like the great unwashed in their neighborhood. This may not be the case but when a government spreads bullsh*t all kinds of plants grow.
Be that as it may, now that the repairs are completed and the Toll Road is passable and safe it seems reasonable that some kind of rational approach to access through the Pinecrest gate be established. In my opinion this would involve some accountable governmental entity controlling and scheduling gate openings, not the “neighbors”.