My name is Dan Simpson and love to hike! My passion for the sport no doubt began when I was a Boy Scout. Scouting was a great avenue for learning outdoor lore and providing lots of opportunities to go hiking and camping.
When I was 18, I was asked to lead the nature program for a children's camp at Camp Cedar Crest, near Running Springs in the San Bernardino Mountains. For the next 11 years I spent two or three weeks each summer leading 8 through 12 year-olds on hikes and helping them appreciate nature. I loved it. I would guess that some of those campers are now grown, married, have kids of their own, and are hiking with them.
For three years we lived in Redlands, California, at the base of the San Bernardino Mountains. Being within a half-hour drive to the trailheads of the San Gorgonio Wilderness was a delight. And being 40 minutes from the resort communities of Big Bear Lake and Lake Arrowhead, the San Bernardino National Forest became a favorite recreation venue for us. In those days, my wife even did some hiking with me.
Then we lived for three years in Lucerne Valley, California, which was in the high desert, just on the other side of the same mountain range. So I continued to enjoy hiking the San Bernardinos as well as enjoying the whole new world of desert hiking.
When we moved to Los Angeles, we were still within a reasonable striking distance of the Bernardinos. But now we also had the San Gabriels. But during that season, the world of urban hiking opened up as I did a few hikes with my young children in wilderness patches surrounded by human sprawl.
We moved to Azusa, California in 1991, at the mouth of the San Gabriel Canyondoorway to the San Gabriel Mountains and its Angeles National Forest. But my real concentration for hiking the San Gabriels began on Friday, April 7, 1995. One of ladies in the office where I worked in Pasadena had decided to organize a lunch-hour hike to Millard Canyon Falls. Only three of us ended up going, but we enjoyed a great outing. I was amazed at the rugged beauty and wilderness feel of the San Gabriels being so close to the tens of millions of people in the L.A. basin.
A week later, my 12-year-old son, Micah, and I did the 6.6-mile hike to Jones Peak (3375') from Bailey Canyon in Sierra Madre. Every day in my drive to and from work on the I-210 Foothill Freeway, I could see the trail zig zagging up the mountain. So we hiked it. Then I began exploring other trail possibilities along the front range of the San Gabriels.
On April 25, 1995, I experienced a turning point. I purchased a copy of John Robinson's
Trails of the Angeles: 100 Hikes in the San Gabriels. Since then, this classic book has been my primary guide for exploring my local mountains.
I've hiked more than 40 (or some portion) of the 100 hikes listed in Robinson's trail guide. Some of them I've done multiple times. So in balancing weather, seasons, time, transportation, and availability of hiking partners, I keep clicking away at the 100 hikes. I don't have a goal of hiking all 100, but there are at least a dozen more that I have my eyes on. And of course I've done many hikes in the San Gabriels that are not listed in Robinson's book.
There are two other authors who have proved helpful to me. One is Jerry Schad and his Afoot & Afield in Los Angeles County. He lists 103 hikes in the San Gabriels. And then there is John McKinney and his Los Angeles County: A Day Hiker's Guide. He lists 161 hikes in the Los Angeles, area, with 46 of them in the San Gabriels. (See my Books page for reviews of these top three trial guidebooks.)
My other favorite hiking area is the Tahoe National Forest (Northern Calif.), where we vacationed many summers since 1993. So whether it's in the San Gabriels, the San Bernardinos, Lake Tahoe, the Mojave Desert, or our local urban trails, hiking has provided me with a great satisfaction. My Hike Log records various hikes I've done since 1993.
My Hiking Philosophy. I've often contemplated what it is about hiking that I love so much. I think for me, part of the satisfaction of hiking is the aspects of exploration and conquest. I thoroughly enjoy exploring and discovering new places. I tend to be a destination hiker, being driven to hike to an interesting place. My favorite destinations are mountain peaks, but I also enjoy hiking to waterfalls, abandoned mines, or other noteworthy places. Just hiking along a trail is not nearly as satisfying for me as climbing to the top of a mountain. And as a person of faith, when I stand on a mountain summit my heart is drawn to worship the Creator.
But in spite of my peak-bagging bent, I also find something very wholesome and gratifying about sauntering alongside a shade-covered creek, just soaking in the life-giving essence of pure nature. I love leaving the concrete jungle and finding sanctuary in the great outdoors. And I can think of no better way to do that than to hike: putting one foot in front of the other and experiencing my environment in the same manner as man has been doing since the dawn of time. What did Adam and Eve do in the Garden? Among other things, they hiked. And so I hike.
My Inspiration page shares some quotes of others that express nicely the appeal of this great activity of hiking.
At the heart of this website is my Hikes and Trails section where I provide write-ups for nearly 60 hikes in the San Gabriel Mountains as well as some in Griffith Park and Hawaii.
Dan's Hiking Blog offers reports and photos of hikes I've done since June 2010 and provides opportunity for reader comments.
I trust that Dan's Hiking Pages will foster in you an enjoyment of hiking and assist you as you hit the trail. Happy hiking!