“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in where nature may heal and cheer and give strength to the body and soul.”
~ John Muir
Just up the street from our home in California we have discovered a quiet little wilderness area called Canyon Park. Nestled in the San Gabriel Mountains just minutes from the 210 freeway and a bustling city it is an eighty-acre refuge offering hiking trails, a nature center, places to enjoy a picnic and the waterfall that was our destination this morning. The park literature explains how volunteers opened the park in 1911 but I couldn’t help imagining what it must have been like for the visitors who happened upon the canyon in the 1800’s.
The quiet peacefulness of a Sunday morning seemed like the perfect time for us to explore this cathedral of nature located in our own backyard. Right after breakfast we made our way up the hill and into the canyon. The ranger who greeted us at the gate provided us with map parking and trailhead information.
We left the car and breathed in the sweet scents of the forest as walked to the trailhead in the dappled sunlight smiling and holding hands. Sharing the trail with families, couples, dogs and visitors from as far away as England and Asia we noticed of how well loved and well known this community park has become.
The one-mile trail to the waterfall is just one part of a much bigger trail, a portion of which is closed to hikers as a result of a fire. We enjoy hiking but, I would put myself in the beginner to intermediate classification and I pick my trails accordingly. This was what I would consider an easy trail. The trip to the falls is mostly uphill on a grade. It was a good workout but I had no difficulties with the rise in elevation or crossing the water on the stones nestled in the streambed.
Before too long we had arrived at the thirty-foot spring fed waterfall. A small crowd milled around taking photos and enjoying the sight and sound of the water as it pooled at our feet. The water was as clear as any I’d seen and our fellow hikers hopped back and forth across the rocks in the sparkling streambed balancing children puppies and cameras. I knew at that moment we were all sharing in the wonder of this beautiful little waterfall tucked away in a small corner of Los Angeles County.
We completed the hike in about an hour and fifteen minutes, which included several stops along the way for photographs. We could have continued along the trail past the waterfall if time had allowed but unfortunately today it did not.As I walked along the trail I thought it fitting to spend Sunday Morning in this spectacular forest. I was a member of the congregation in God’s own cathedral. Wherever I travel I’m always humbled and moved by the beauty of our natural spaces. It is my hope that we will in the midst of our busy hectic lives pause and seek out similar places of refuge and renewal in our own backyards.