The Bridge to Nowhere — Page 5

Swan Rock

Swan Rock

Two miles up the East Fork Trail, I come to the first of the hike's two major landmarks: Swan Rock, a whitish formation (quartz?) embedded in the dark granite of the canyon's west wall.

The feature does indeed resemble a swan, though if you're not actively looking you may walk right past without ever noticing it. In any case, Swan Rock is a popular turnaround point for those not heading all the way to the bridge, as there are plenty of fine places to sun and swim in the near vicinity.

A Bridge to Somewhere Wildflowers & Century Plant Contrast Nearing the Bridge

Swan Rock also marks the point, more or less, where the walls of San Gabriel Canyon begin to steepen and narrow.

Compared to the more open and gentle terrain of the lower canyon, the land here becomes more rugged, and already-dubious Road-to-Wrightwood schemes begin to look quite a bit more fanciful.

Also notable along this stretch of the canyon is the way the high desert pushes right up against the river's green belt.

Stray no more than twenty feet above the high water mark of the San Gabriel's rushing aquamarine waters, and desert takes over at once, replacing the river's verdant ecosystem with sand and spiny cactus.

But thanks to the previous winter's abundant snowfall, the desert is today abloom, making a compelling case for itself in nature's ongoing beauty contest.

Having never hiked through this area before, I am quite taken with the diverse and inspiring scenery.

But, I'm also eager to get to the main attraction of today's adventure—the bridge.

Not too far past Swan Rock, the canyon opens up yet again. Now, the path of the doomed 1930's road is clearly evident along the canyon's eastern wall.

Along this section I see considerable evidence of flood damage to the region. Though most of it is dry now, the river's bed extends far across the floor of the canyon, populated with countless rotting driftwood, including more than a few mature trees, ripped from the ground this past winter, and now sitting high and dry on the upper banks of the river.

As you'd guess, the road's pavement is long gone, but the graded-flat outline of the route remains, as here it was high enough to stay above the flood waters. After making its final crossing, the trail wisely joins the flat ground of the road high above the river, where the view now allows longer gazes in either direction. But: still no bridge.

next: Bridge to Nowhere

About SierraDescents

When there is snow, SierraDescents is Andy Lewicky's California backcountry skiing and mountaineering website. Without snow, sierradescents becomes an ill-tempered hiking and climbing blog.

Pray for snow.