Garcia Trail to Azusa Peak is a 2.7 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located north of Sierra Madre Avenue near the old site of Los Angeles County Fire Station 97. The trail climbs steeply, approximately 900 feet in just under a mile, staying primarily on or about the ascending/descending ridge.
It is believed to have been developed by a man named Garcia, who lived in a small house under the eucalyptus tree in the canyon just west of the fire station. It is also believed that he may have worked for the Azusa Foothill Ranch or the McNeil family who owned the property. Azusa historian and Azusa City Clerk, Jeffrey L. Cornejo, Jr. recalls seeing Don Garcia’s name on one of the deeds of sale when he worked with Miles Rosedale documenting the move-off of the Monrovia Nursery in preparation of the sale to Azusa Land Partners.
Garcia Trail was used for access to the top of the ridge by the U.S. Forest Service prior to the construction of the Glendora Ridge Fire Road. Later, it was turned over to the Los Angeles County Fire Department, which used the trail for a department communications line coming down to the fire station from the top of the ridge, which is no longer in use today and since has been removed.
COLBY FIRE DAMAGE TO GARCIA TRAIL
On January 16, 2014 a fire ignited along the Colby Truck Trail in the San Gabriel Mountains. The fire, later labeled The Colby Fire, burned 1,952 acres, mostly on the south-facing slopes of the San Gabriel Mountain foothills above Azusa and Glendora. It damaged eight structures and destroyed 15, including four homes on North Glendora Avenue, according to post fire assessments. Nearly 80 percent of the blaze was on private land.
The intensive firefighting efforts that were undertaken to put out the fire caused significant damage to the hillside and in particular the Garcia Trail. The County of Los Angeles Fire Department conducted an assessment of the Garcia Trail. The assessment found that “60 percent of the Garcia Trail tread has been covered by dry ravel and ninety percent of the retaining walls, which once supported the trail, are failing and in a state of disrepair. Unconsolidated loose materials continue to erode downhill covering the trail tread even under stable weather conditions.” The Fire Department recommended that the trail be closed “to provide for public safety, limit the damage to private property; residences; vacant land; and also schools in the area, reduce private land owner liability and increase opportunity for natural land recovery with minimal impact from excessive land use.” The Fire Department’s assessment and recommendation can be viewed here. A presentation showing the damage the fire caused to the trail is available here.
TRAIL NOW CLOSED
Due to extensive damage caused by water drops from helicopters that were used to fight the Colby Fire, the Garcia Trail is now indefinitely closed and has been posted “No Trespassing” pursuant to California Penal Code 602.
Recently, the Los Angeles County Fire Department, in collaboration with the Azusa Police Department, conducted an aerial flyover with multiple drones to assess the trail’s current conditions. The drone footage revealed areas of significant damage including large sections where the trail has been washed out, unstable slopes and serious erosion of the trail. The Azusa Police Department and Los Angeles County Fire warns hikers not to attempt to hike this trail as it is officially closed and posted No Trespassing. Violators are subject to prosecution.
OWNERSHIP OF GARCIA TRAIL
The trail, although believed to be entirely in the City of Azusa, actually traverses through the cities of Azusa and Glendora and is owned by several public agencies and multiple private property owners (Garcia Trail Parcels Map). The City recently took possession of 201-acres of open space area that includes the area where the icon “A” is situated and portions of the Garcia Trail from Rosedale Land Partners. In 2016, the City transferred the entire 201-acres to a newly formed Joint Powers Authority that was created with the Rivers and Mountains Conservancy. The Azusa-RMC JPA is responsible for administering and maintaining the land.