California Native Plant Society
San Gabriel Mountains Chapter

Heaton Flat Trail

The Heaton Flat Trail is one of the most rewarding in terms of mountain scenery in the San Gabriel Mountains. It begins at Heaton Flat, not far beyond the parking lot at the end of East Fork Road. For details of the trail itself, see Dan Simpson's or Tom Chester's web pages. This trail is part of Hike No. 87 in John Robinson's book, Trails of the Angeles. Be aware that the trail is rough in places, and less frequently used. But it is readily walked to Heaton Saddle, with an elevation gain of about 2,500 feet in approximately 4.5 miles. There are several destinations beyond that, but on rugged trails, generally not recommended.

All of the photographs here were taken in February, less than a week after a winter storm that deposited considerable snow on the mountains. Although the spring flora was limited, there was plenty to see, including a variety of ferns, and multitudinous numbers of the white-flowered Ceanothus crassifolius at the peak of their bloom, and budding sugar bush (Rhus ovata).

Click on the thumbnails to see higher-resolution images, 720 x 480 pixels.

Heaton Trail sign ALders and ceanothus beside river California polypody polyCalifornia polypody Bird's foot fern

Left: Sign at the start of Heaton trail. Right: Alder trees (Alnus rhombifolia) along the river. Also hoary-leafed ceanothus (Ceanothus crassifolius)

California polypody (Polypodium californicum), a deciduous fern not seen in the summer months

Bird's foot fern
(Pellaea mucronata var. mucronata)

Coffee fern
Coffee fern
Golden back fern
Coastal wood fern
A liverwort

Coffee fern (Pellaea andromedifolia), prolific in moist areas of the ascending canyon

Left: Golden back fern (Pentagramma triangularis ssp. triangularis)
Right: Coastal wood fern (Dryopteris arguta)

A liverwort

Streambank springbeauty
Dudleya species
An oak
Miner's lettuce
Creek in the Heaton Canyon

Streambank springbeauty (Claytonia parviflora)

Dudleya species in the damp lower area

Leather oak (Quercus durata ssp. gabrielensis)

Miner's lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata mexicana)

Creek that drains the canyon

Bigelow's spikemoss
Plain moss
Sycamore trees
Typical chaparral
West from the saddle

Bigelow's spikemoss (Selaginella bigelovii)

Plain moss surrounded by snow

Sycamores trees (Plantanus racemosa)

Typical chaparral on the ridge

At the saddle above Heaton Flats

Sugar bush Sugar bush Hoary-leafed ceanothus Switchback trail on ridge Trail on ridge-line

Sugar bush (Rhus ovata) in bud

Hoary-leafed ceanothus (Ceanothus crassifolius)

Left: Switchback trail above the saddle Right: Canyon to Heaton Flats goes down to the right

White sage Chaparral whitethorn Bigberry manzanita First tunnel Second tunnel

White sage (Salvia apiana) (L) and chaparral whitethorn (Ceanothus leucodermis) (R)

Bigberry manzanita (Arctostaphylos glauca)

Scars of Shoemaker Canyon Road, the Road to Nowhere, first tunnel (L) and second tunnel (R)

Rattlesnake Peak Mt. Baden-Powell and Iron Mtn Mt Baden-Powell, Iron Mtn, Mt Baldy Mt Baldy and the east Iron Mtn

Wide-angle sequence, west to north to east, taken from the flat-topped knoll that Dan Simpson describes as destination of his 6.2-mile hike. (a) Rattlesnake Peak (b) Upper East Fork river valley, Mt Baden-Powell in center, Iron Mountain at right (c) Mt Baden-Powell, Iron Mountain, Mt Baldy (d) Mt Baldy and ranges to the east.

Telephoto view of Iron mountain with snow-covered conifers

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Images copyright © 2009 Graham Bothwell and, where indicated, copyright © 2009 by Dean Boesen.
Thanks to Jane Strong for assistance in identification of plants and flowers.