Guide to hike #48-2 Duarte to Monrovia Peak via Van Tassel Fire Road

Last trip report: 16 April 1997

Trail Condition
How To Get to the Trailhead
Trail Guide
Views from the Trail
Trip Log
Plot of altitude versus distance using mileage from my pedometer and altitude from my altimeter.

Trail Condition

Top of Mel Canyon to Van Tassel Fire RoadGood, trail cleaned of weeds in last 2 weeks
Van Tassel Fire RoadGood
Rincon - Red Box RoadGood
Ridgeline to Monrovia PeakRequires minor rock-climbing ability

Number of notable scratches due to brush along trail: None.
Number of scratches drawing blood: None.
Last time trail area burned in major fire: Bradbury fire in 1980s?

Comments: None.

How To Get to the Trailhead

Trailhead location: Top of Mel Canyon Road in Duarte, across from the driveway of 204 Mel Canyon.

Directions from nearest freeway to Trailhead:
From 210 East or West: Take the Mt. Olive exit. Go north to Huntington Drive and turn right. Turn left after 0.5 miles on Los Lomas Road. Turn right after 0.3 miles on Royal Oaks Drive. Turn left after 0.5 miles on Mel Canyon. Go 0.4 miles to the top of Mel Canyon.

Maps from Vicinity MapBlast! of trailheads:
Van Tassel Trailhead.

Trail Guide

Topo Map: Azusa, CA
Distance: 23 miles
Cumulative altitude gain and loss: +5490 / -5490
Plot of altitude versus distance using mileage from my pedometer and altitude from my altimeter.
My total trip time: 9 hours

All mileages below are cumulative from the trailhead and all altitudes are from the topo map.

From the top of Mel Canyon Road, enter the "vacant lot" across from the driveway at the house at 204 Mel Canyon through the small opening south of the chain across the lot, just north of Valley View school. Head north, and follow the trail to near the water tank. Any alternative will reach the same objective.

After about 0.5 mile, you reach the little spur road. Turn left, and you quickly reach the Van Tassel Fire Road. Turn left again, and follow the Fire Road up. You reach the ridge at 2.5 miles. Note the planted trees that line the road here and farther. These trees have pea-type flowers with a good scent, and were in full bloom on 16 April 1997. The intersection with the "power-line road" that gives the easiest access to Mt. Bliss is at 4 miles, although you can also scramble up the north side of Mt. Bliss at 4.5 miles. Continue on Van Tassel and descend toward White Saddle, which is reached at 5.5 miles just past one of the biggest powerline towers you'll see.

At the saddle, you meet Monrovia Canyon Road coming in from the left. A sign there says "Road Closed - Security Gate - Blocked 3 miles ahead. Overturf Trail closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays." Dave Gregorich dsays you cannot get past the Security Gate.

Turn right onto Upper Clamshell Truck Trail and resume relentless uphill climbing to the road's end at the Rincon - Red Box Road at 8 miles. Turn left, and continue for another mile. Just past the powerlines, there is a valley to the left that provides the easiest access to the ridge to Monrovia Peak, less than a half mile farther.

There is not much shade on this hike until you get close to the Red Box - Rincon Road.

Trip Log

See Trip Log.

Views from the Trail

This trip provides very different views than the usual front-range hike. Fish Canyon is a very open canyon, as a result of considerable erosion, and thus you can survey a lot of country.

At about mile 3, you can see the San Olene Fire Road to the west, with the white reflector used by the Sheriff's Department to bounce microwaves between two stations. (Thanks to Booth Hartley for providing this information.) Mt. Wilson and Monrovia Peak are now visible.

Looking down Sawpit Canyon, the white/beige building just before the dam is the L.A.P.D. Academy shooting range. The green water tank is above Monrovia Mountain Park.

At the saddle at the north face of Mt. Bliss, you get the stunning view into Fish Canyon, with Baldy, Pine and Dawson looming over it, Telescope, Telegraph, Ontario Peak to their right, and Baden-Powell, South Mt. Hawkins and Mt. Hawkins to the left.

A little west on the Red Box - Rincon Road, you can see Strawberry Peak, Mt. Wilson, Mt. Lawlor, Josephine Peak, Twin Peaks, Highway 39, Pleasant View Ridge, Mt. Williamson, and Mt. Islip.

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Copyright © 1997 by Tom Chester.
Permission is freely granted to reproduce any or all of this page as long as credit is given to me at this source:
Comments and feedback: Tom Chester
Updated 4 May 1997.