Thursday, July 3, 2014

Eaton Canyon Closure and the National Recreation Area Bill

There has been some public outcry in response to recent reports that the Forest Service is to close a dangerous portion of Eaton Canyon.  As someone who loves exploring the local mountains, I understand that restricted access to our open space can be troubling.  However, I also find myself avoiding several once-beautiful open spaces which have now become trashed and destroyed.  Eaton Canyon is quickly becoming one of them.

During my last visit to Eaton Canyon, I witnessed several inexperienced climbers heading up the cliff to the second waterfall.  More troubling was the amount of plastic trash and graffiti left behind.  Plastic bottles, caps, straws and bags floated in the pool below the falls, spoiling any experience of nature.

It became apparent to me that in order to preserve and protect the waterfall at Eaton Canyon, access needed to be either completely restricted, or allowed under the supervision of patrolling park rangers or some other type of authority.  Without some type of regular supervision and maintenance within this easily-accessable natural area, Eaton Canyon will remain a place where littering, graffiti, and other irresponsible behaviors are carried out with blatant disregard for any law or sign.

Major graffiti damage to Eaton Canyon

Perhaps, as I have discussed with others concerned about the area, the National Recreation Area bill which has been submitted to Congress could help being improved visitor services and more rangers to the San Gabriel Mountains.  Permits could be issued to ensure that experienced canyoneers are granted access.  If such improvements can help stem the tide of pollution, graffiti, trail closures and general neglect of the Angeles National Forest, then this is a bill we should all hope will pass.


  1. Well said, Tim. The trail to the waterfall is really ugly now. It was a beautiful hike just a few years ago, but the graffiti and trash have got much worse recently. There used to be a team of volunteers that painted over the graffiti and cleaned up the trash- what happened? I've heard that there will be a major graffiti cleanup soon using sandblasting, and I hope they'll clean the upper pool area as well.

    I'm just back from a hike up the West Fork of the San Gabriel river, a popular swimming and picnic area for local families. After the 2009 fire that closed the area, the Forest Service cleaned it up beautifully. Sadly, I saw today that the trash and graffiti are back. The banks of the river are littered with paper plates, beer cans and worse. Perhaps it's time to hand the stewardship of these once-pristine areas to the National Parks Service.

  2. The trash and graffiti are mind boggling problems. Recently I was in wilderness in Arizona. It was quite difficult to get to. It took many hours of hiking. But then I found trash. My assumption is that people came there because it is so beautiful. Yet they left trash. I just don't understand people. The graffiti problem in Eaton is taking on a new dimension. Taggers are competing with how high on the canyon walls and how far up canyon they go. The Coaltion of American Canyoneers has a graffiti removal project planned for August 23 for Eaton. It has been approved by the Angeles National Forest. But we have not yet announced it. We have some logistics to work out first with sand blasting equipment. The announcement should come next week if we are able to obtain all the gear we need.

  3. Yes, thank you so much, Sonny! Perhaps we in the community need to at least request that cameras be installed in the canyon around the falls so that the taggers can be identified and prosecuted.

    Ultimately, our mountains just need more resources to prevent such destruction in the first place.