The Trail to Dawn Mine
By Jake Brouwer
The hike to Dawn Mine is a great half day adventure taking you two and one-half miles into the depths of Millard Canyon.
From Lake St. or Fair Oaks go north to Loma Alta Drive in Altadena. Turn left to Chaney Trail Drive and then turn right up into the foothills. Park in a designated spot just outside the Sunset Ridge fire road. Be sure you have your Adventure Pass prominently displayed in your vehicle.
Hike up the fire road to a marker denoting the Sunset Ridge Trail which youll take, dropping you down into the canyon. This first part of the trip is quite easy and gives you some nice views of the canyon. You will pass above Millard Falls often hearing the echoes of children yelling and dogs barking as they frolic in the pool beneath the falls. Off to your left youll see Saucer Canyon. In the spring the area is easily spotted by a thin silvery stream of a waterfall in the distance.
Soon youll reach a junction in the trail and you will want to bear left and down to the stream. Along the way youll pass by the long time cabin of Mr. Ed Nohr.
Once you reach the streambed you can put your trail finding skills to work. The old trail crisscrosses the stream in numerous places often causing you to wonder if youre on the right track. Just keep following the stream as it climbs higher into the canyon. The flora and fauna along the way add nicely to the mental challenges of selecting just the right boulders to hop upon as you work your way further up.
If there is any doubt that you are on on the right track your suspicions are quickly relieved by the site of mining equipment showing up here and there, rusted and banged up beyond any repair.
Soon youll pass an area with cabin size boulders and then its just a short distance before you come to the scene of the old mill site. This is a fun area to explore. You can see all sorts of foundations and metal artifacts and little side trails leading to who knows where. It is only a half mile more to the mine.
Up on your left youll be greeted by a large piece of machinery that is mounted to the rock wall just outside the entrance to the Dawn Mine.
This is a great spot to just stop and have a light snack. It is shady here as is most of Millard Canyon and the bugs seem to be minimal. There are lots of things to explore other than the mine and as Ill say many times in this issue, "I recommend you stay out of the mine."
The mine floor is covered with water making it difficult to know what you are crossing. The floor is also covered with rotten, water logged beams. Just a short distance inside is a deep water filled shaft. As you shine you light inside the tunnel and see two eyes peering back, perhaps it is time to head back.
Above the entrance of the Dawn Mine forty feet or so is another tunnel accessible only by scaling the sheer rock face on a toe-hold trail first to the right and then back to the left. At the end of the trail is about a five foot reach to the entrance of the tunnel overlooking the drop straight down to the front of the mine and inside not five feet away is a shaft fifty feet down. talk about being in-between a rock and a hard place. Best to stay away.
Just across the streambed are trails leading up to what was the home of Mr. Ryan. Actually there are trails everywhere and half the fun of coming up here is exploring where they go.
One of course is the trail that Ryans mules, Jack and Jill, used to haul ore up to the Mt. Lowe Railroad, on the way to market. You could hike up to the top of this trail and then down the fire road which is the old rail bed for the railroad, and end up back where you started otherwise just head back down the canyon the way you came.
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Last modified: February 12, 1999
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