Total trip length = approx. 3 1/2 miles round trip
Elevation gain = 1,100′
Trailhead location: Vincent Gap on the Angeles Crest Highway
This hike ascends the switch-backing Pacific Crest trail up the northeast facing slope of Mt. Baden-Powell. This is an easy to moderate hike, affording scenic vistas out over the Mojave Desert and the eastern high country of the San Gabriel mountains.
Just recently, with summer edging toward the beginning of July, I hiked up to the little mountainside oasis of Lamel Spring on the forested slope of Mount Baden Powell. Somehow, it seems that on every trip back to this beautiful mountain, that the experience is somehow brand new. As with all hikes starting out from Vincent Gap, the soil is brick red and dusty, a bit like being out in parts of New Mexico and Utah. The trail wastes no time in its’ ascent up the northeast facing slopes of the mountain. Many of the hikers starting out from Vincent Gap have one goal in mind; summiting the 9,400′ peak and then returning down the same trail. If you don’t feel like going all the way to the top, this little spring is a peaceful and scenic destination located a little less than half way up to the top.
There are fifteen switchbacks in the 1 3/4 miles to the spring. Forest transition is ever-present as you continue to climb up and along the slopes. In the beginning of the hike, you’re amongst tenacious scrub oaks mingling amongst the ever-present Jeffrey pines. It’s not long until white fir begin to make their presence and the oaks disappear. A bit further up, noble stands of ponderosa and sugar pine begin to dominate the scene. While all this is happening, the sky at this elevation, most days, takes on a cobalt blue look to it. The air is fragrant with the intermingling of conifers, somehow peaking the senses. Look for a little bench about halfway to the spring. It’s out on the end of a switchback, presenting you with a view back down to where you left your car! This is a good
place to rest and take in the scenery. To the east, you can view East Blue Ridge and the top of the lift for Mountain High Ski Resort. Looking straight across the great openness of the East Fork of the San Gabriel River, Pine Mountain and Mt. Baldy present themselves in stark relief against the horizon.
When you come to the sign for Lamel Spring, just head to your left and follow the narrow path for a couple of hundred yards. Even from the spring, if you look carefully, it’s possible to see the trailhead parking area. Enjoy the peace of this place and take your time on the return hike back. Springs like this are a rare find in the San Gabriels!
by Chris Kasten