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Los Angeles

A city in southern California.

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A Wandering Introduction to The Invisible (Los) Angeles National Forest

  • Sep 27, 1999
  • by
Rating:
+5
Pros: Interesting history, & obscurity makes for a pleasantly people-free area

Cons: Hard to find good trails that others haven't, locals are NRA loyalists, dizzying temperature extremes in summer and winter

This is my home at the time of this writing: the Angeles National Forest, a surprisingly quick drive away from Los Angeles proper, and still a part of Los Angeles County. This is a relatively new 'forest,' so here and there lie patches of private property like this one, not owned by the state. Avoid these; most of the residents spend the weekends swearing (or worse) at the visitors. A curious attitude, yes, but most of them bought their houses long before the state stuck up signs beckoning people to the Angeles National Forest, "Land of Many Uses"...

Oddly, few people seem to have heard of it. Los Angeles natives have adamantly told me that they don't have a national forest anywhere nearby, and the rest are only faintly aware of it. An irritatingly high per cent of the tiny visitors are high school students from neighbouring communities who need a place to drink beer and smoke. I am considering using them for target practice; this 'forest' is more desert than not, and highly flammable -- the last big burn-up was in 1975, but small brush fires are a matter of course here. By all means, remember your childhood Smokey Bear fire safety lessons!

And pick up your trash. The forest service charges a reasonable fee for a 'forest adventure pass,' which you have to display on your vehicle if you want to park for even the briefest moment. This is a great boon for residents and people who enjoy clean spaces, but it is an irritation in that your fee is thanks to random litterbugs. Do buy the 'adventure pass,' since its use is regularly enforced.

'Land of many uses' =

* hiking
* camping
* beer drinking

This is about it. Hiking enthusiasts are encouraged to pick up a book called 'Trails of the Angeles -- 100 Hikes in the San Gabriels' by John W. Robinson. (A trail map is included!) "The San Gabriel Mountains are only a one-hour's drive from Los Angeles, yet contain peaceful, secluded areas where nature still reigns relatively undisturbed." I'll say. One of the out-and-out weirdest, albeit to be expected, part of having a forest area near a metropolis like Los Angeles is that, along with the coyotes and deer and so on, you will, if very lucky and quiet, catch an actual cave-dwelling type in its natural habitat. Honestly, a few weather-beaten individuals hardier than you or I have made the shelter of a few trees or rock their home, if only temporarily.

The other curiousity is the area's UFO reputation. Enthusiasts are directed towards a book called "The Tujunga Canyon Visitations," a dramatically written, detailed account of a series of alleged UFO visitations and alien abductions in the Forest. It's an obscure title, but the phenomenon has been written up in other UFO compendiums, any of which would make for great reading while camping overnight.

Curiously, none of the UFO books mention the proximity of an air force base to the forest, but that's neither here nor there...

There are campgrounds scattered through the area; I'm told these are pleasant. Hardier Angelenos may want to check out the intemperate climate so close to their temperate one: summer in the forest is achingly hot, and winters are the closest one can get to winter near Los Angeles: visit in January and feign winter camping, or head out in July but only with coolers aplenty.

I'm almost reluctant to 'epinion' this area since it's so secluded, and most people would prefer to keep it that way. The epinions.com list of 'Attractions in and around Los Angeles' doesn't even mention the Angeles National Forest (sometimes referred to as the 'Angeles Crest Forest' or just 'Angeles Crest,' albeit incorrectly), and most tourist guides will suggest driving one of the main roads and no more, _if_ they even bother to mention it.

Don't listen to the guides. Lace up your boots, or even dust off your tent, and head off. Just buy your forest pass, be good to the locals (somebody might even tip you off to the locale of 'The Hideaway'), and don't litter -- the glamour of the Angeles Forest is its complete invisibility in the area. (And don't tell anybody about your trip. Tell them you spent the day at the Universal Studios or some such.)



Recommended:
Yes

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K. Mennie ()
Ranked #694
Member Since: Oct 27, 2010
Last Login: Nov 23, 2010 02:45 PM UTC
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Los Angeles is home to just under 4 million people, making it the 2nd largest city in the United States. It was founded in 1781 and its surrounding metro area is home to people from hundreds of ethnic groups. Today, Los Angeles is home to some of the richest and poorest people in the country and continues to attract thousands of new residents every year.
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