Saturday, June 18, 2011

Chilao :: Angeles National Forest

This weekend the family and I headed up the newly opened Highway 2 in the Angles National Forest to behold the beauties at Buckhorn Campground, but when we got to the campground the gate was locked! A small sign said it was billed to open the summer of 2011 (we talked with a park ranger and found it will most likely open early next year, maybe late this year - we hear it's getting a makeover!).
That threw a wrench in our plans, but we knew we would find somewhere to camp up there. We made a quick stop at Newcombs Ranch for a couple of pints of Fat Tire and to discuss our options. Newcombs Ranch is a nice little bar in the middle of hwy 2 with a good vibe. Little JW had a great time flirting with our waitress and the only other couple at the place. That little man has a way of making strangers utterly happy with his little smile, and he isn’t shy with it either!
After discussing our options we ended up staying in the Manzanita loop of Chilao Campground, about 8 miles down the road from Buckhorn. Little Pine is the other loop in this campground and it's closed at the moment due to fire damage. The campground is set among Coulter pine and chaparral mainly consisting of large manzanita and scrub oak, a magical combination in my opinion. And due to the Station Fire, which grazed the campground, the wildflowers are in full glory! It's a sign of the wonder of life re-birthing itself from the devastation.
We arrived at the campground around 3:00pm and it didn’t take us long to find a nice spot over looking the canyon under the shade of a few Coulter pines with a picturesque 20 foot Manzanita right in the center of it. As we put little buddy peacefully to bed, drank our beers and cooked our dinner it looked like we were in for a great night. I should have taken the Sheriff’s rolling through at 10pm with spotlights shining into camps and looking around as a little foreshadow of what was to come, but I didn’t.
Shortly after 10:00pm a few new groups showed up and had a really good time that night until 3:00am. JW didn’t seem to mind, but Amanda and I had a hard time sleeping to say the least. The campground was really loud in general, a lot of people playing music and a few really large really loud groups, so the alone-in- the-woods feeling was a little lost on this campground. Other then that it was a great place! During the week the place is almost empty, making it an ideal time to come. Were going to head back up then a give her another try some time.

Amanda and JW enjoying the morning sun at our campsite.

About half of the campsites were right on top of each other. This is a really good thing if you have a group larger then 8 people because the campsites are so close that you feel like the two sites are one, but not so good for privacy.

This is a group campground right in between the Little Pine and Manzanita loops. There was a large group there that had the whole place to themselves. The campground can accommodate a group with up to 50 people.

A little further up the road from the Manzanita Loop is a meadow. It used to be a campground but it looks like it has been closed for years.

Poodle dog bush beautiful but is not to be trifled with, touching it or even inhaling to close to it can cause poison oak like reactions.

The view looking down canyon from the edge of the campground.

In La Canada, CA, at the intersection of I-210 and Angeles Crest Hwy. (Hwy 2), take Hwy 2 east
25.6 miles to campground sign.
If you reach Newcomb's Ranch you've gone too far!
Turn left at sign and go 0.1 miles to a "Y" intersection. Contine another 0.6 miles to Manzanita Loop on the left.

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