HIKE Trail 23, National, Old Man, SOMO

~5am >> hopped on Desert Classic at San Gabriel >> west on DC >> up Trail 23 >> up Fat Man's Pass >> up National >> down Old Man >> east on DC >> San Gabriel

2:26 hr:min, 8.1 miles, 1857 ft ascent

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I've been wanting to check out Old Man Trail ever since I heard that some maniacs ride down it from National. Decided it would be wise to hike it first. So I decided to hike it on one of those mornings where I didn't really feel like riding.

From the San Gabriel entrance to Desert Classic, I headed to the trailhead at trailmarker 23 on Desert Classic - the trailhead for Trail 23. Hiked up Trail 23. Took a left (west) at the top. After a couple hundred feet, the trail starts heading north into Hidden Valley and Fat Man's Pass. This is a really neat area. Huge slabs of granite jumbled on top of each other. Many cavities where desert animals must shelter during the summer heat. A few larger spaces that a person could shelter in. There is an area where the rock is scrubbed clean by flash floods and sand. The desert varnish is gone and you can see clean white granite. Very smooth and purdy. Neat area.

Anyway, kept heading west to National Trail. Up National towards Buena Vista.

Old Man Trail runs down the south face of South Mountain - sorta paralleling Corona de Loma - between 1/2 mile to a mile east of Corona de Loma.

Old Man T's into National less-than 1/2 mile east of Buena Vista. It starts from the high saddle just east of Buena Vista. The trail heads uphill from National. It goes up and over a peak. [BTW - There's an outstanding view from that peak.] From the peak, the trail drops quickly to the valley floor.

At the bottom, Old Man Trail T's into Secret Trail near the rock step. Just east of the rock step on Secret: Look for a pile of rusted fencing off of the side of Secret Trail near the rock step. That's the trailhead for Old Man.

For me, Old Man Trail is totally unrideable. It is SUPER steep (almost hard to even walk down), super technical, and super loose. Very bad combinations for most XC riders. I wouldn't even want to have to carry my bike down it because it so steep and loose in some places.

However, it is a great hiking trail. I'd rather hike up than down - when you're hiking down it would be easy to lose your footing and slide for a ways - that shouldn't be a problem hiking up it.

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  1. Hey, what software are you using for your maps and elevation profiles? I'm using a Garmin Foretrex 301 and "National Geographic TOP!", and I'm not happy at all with the results. Yours look way better.

  2. I like http://utrack.crempa.net for drawing routes where the route color indicates elevation (red = higher, green = lower). Take a screenshot, save it, and upload to the blog.

    However, everytrail.com has a much more extensive set of features. Worth looking at.