From the trailhead, walk between the two houses to find the footpath that contours along the west slope of Rubio Canyon, far above the creek. The trail follows the old rail bed of the historic trolley line, but after years of erosion, the rail bed is barely distinguishable. But the hiking trail is usually in good condition and offers a nice stroll. After about a half mile you'll encounter a section of water pipe that parallels the trail. Looking straight ahead just past the large oak tree is the site of the Rubio Pavilion. In another minute you'll negotiate another occurrence of the pipe (or if you veer right, you'll come upon the remnants of the pavilion foundation. Then follow the path to the second occurrence of the pipe). At this point, follow the path down to creek bed.
Hike up the open streambed (north) (see "Rough route" under Trail Notes below). Prior to the massive debris flow of October 2004, you would be greeted by three small falls in routeMaidenhair Falls, Cavity Chute, and Bay Arbor Falls. But today they are covered with tons of rock that had been previously covered the bigger falls upstream. In the years since 2004, plant life has come back along the stream bed and softens the effects of the debris flow, but also posses additional obstacles to negotiate.
Moss Grotto Falls (top) and Ribbon Rock Falls (bottom) - January 2005. Photographer Jim Hayes of Glendora captured this shot. View large photo. View other fine photographs by Jim Hayes at www.jimhayes.com
View the Maidenhair Falls photo page.
After a quarter mile of scrambling up the streambed, you arrive at the base of a picturesque double falls. The lower one is Ribbon Rock Falls and the upper one is Moss Grotto Falls. These had been buried under the huge rock slide, but now once again can be enjoyed. Ribbon Rock is now only a fraction of its former glory (see old photo compliments of Paul Ayers).
In the hayday of Rubio Canyon, there were stairways and catwalks in which visitors could continue up the canyon and enjoy Grand Chasm Falls (a stone's throw upstream from Moss Grotto Falls), Lodged Boulder Falls, Roaring Rift Falls, and the breathtaking 80-foot Thalehaha Falls.
Enjoy your visit to Moss Grotto and Ribbon Rock. Unless you're compelled to explore further, return the way you came. .
View a photo comparison of
The changing faces of Moss Grotto Falls and Ribbon Rock Falls.
Grand Chasm Falls (aka Rainbow Falls) - To view the next falls upstream, take the steep path that heads up the ravine on right (east). After about a 100 yards, there will be another path splitting off to the left. To visit Grand Chasm Falls, turn here and climb this route back toward the main canyon. The route can be rough and precarious, so proceed with care. After a few minutes, you will descend into the canyon arriving at the top of Moss Grotto Falls. Look to your right and take in the beauty of Grand Chasm Falls. As you approach it on the left, look toward the top of the falls and you can see the remains of a small dam which used to provide electric power for the facilities below. Behind the dam was a small pond called Mirror Lake. After your visit here, return back to the trail junction in the ravine.
View the Grand Chasm Falls photo page.
Thalehaha Falls Overlook - From the ravine continue up (east) about 100 yards to where the trail cuts sharply to the left, climbing steeply up the slope, northwest (there is a fig tree adjacent). Your path will take you through a healthy stand of fountain grass (pennisetum setaceum). After a lot of huffing and puffing you'll reach a large outcropping of rock. The views of the waterfalls below are guaranteed to elicit oos and ahs. The larger of the two falls below is Thalehaha Falls (aka Bridal Veil Falls), with water cascading some 80 feet. Below it is Roaring Rift Falls. Downstream, out of view from this vantage point is Lodged Boulder Falls. Be careful around the edge of this overlook; it's a 130-foot sheer drop to the canyon bottom!
View the Thalehaha Falls photo page.
Leontine Falls - After enjoying your views of Thalehaha and Roaring Rift Falls, I recommend heading back. However, the observant hiker will notice a trail continuing northeast up the ridge. The ardent explorer will be compelled to press on to Leontine Falls, the crowing jewel of the falls of Rubio Canyon. But unless you are in good physical condition and have mountain goat agility, don't even think about continuing on. This trail is not for the timid or inexperienced. The route is steep and rough with loose footing in places and can get brushy if it doesn't get periodic trimming. If you choose the challenge to venture on, in the next 15 to 20 minutes you'll climb 180 vertical feet then descend to a ridge offering partial views down toward Leontine Falls. This is as far as you'll go unless you really are daring. The route cuts back to the northeast toward the falls, dropping perilously 120 feet to the canyon bottom. Ropes attached to trees make the descent doable, but heart pounding (Note: it's usually not a good practice to rely on make-shift safety ropes left from a previous party. So use with caution and at your own risk). And once to the bottom you must climb back out the same way, so don't commit to this adventure unless you're confident you have the ability to get out. The route delivers you to the gorge below Leontine Falls. To climb to the base of the falls or to explore downstream, you'll need some elementary rock climbing skills. Again, this trek to Leontine Falls is not for the general public, but only for those with advanced outdoor skills. You assume all liability if you attempt this route. Return the way you came. To descend into Rubio Canyon, see "Alternate routes from Echo Mt." under Trail Notes below.
View the Leontine Falls photo page.
Incline Tram Bed - If you have some mountain goat tendencies and are up for some adventure, you can do some exploring up the old incline tram bed. And if you want to climb all the way to Echo Mountain, the route combines three separately named trails, climbing 1,300 feet (see map). From Rubio Canyon, go to where the main trail arrives at the old pavilion site, near the second occurrence of the water pipe. A fork in the trail heads up the slope (C on the map, Incline Trail). The path climbs steeply, passing the now non-existent lower end of the tram bed. After a few minutes, you reach a series of short zigzags which takes you directly up the tram bed through a road cut, which Professor Lowe had dubbed, "Granite Gorge." At the top of the road cut are some old foundations. You look down into a chasm that had been spanned by trestles. Lowe had named it "Macpherson Trestle." The only thing that remains today are some footings from the trestle supports. If you're brave in heart, you can continue on by taking the route that climbs up the rocks on the left, then continues up the ridge to meet the tram bed on the other side of the chasm. Climb the tram bed via a zigzagging use path. Be careful and watch your step. Enjoy great views of the canyon to the north and the urban sprawl to the south.
Shortly you reach the passing track section, the midway point where the tram cars passed each other. At the top end of this section, the route becomes more difficult and brushy (I have not ventured up the tram bed beyond this point). A narrow trail, however, veers off to the right (D on the map, Old Echo Mountain Trail). This route contours along the southeast face of Echo Mountain. Shortly the route cuts left and begins to zigzag up the slope (E on the map, Chalet Trail). A steep climb delivers you to the site of the Chalet and in another 50 yards you arrive at the Echo Mountain House ruins. This entire route from Rubio Canyon to Echo Mountain is somewhat rustic and quite steep in places and is not for the faint of heart or inexperienced. I don't know how often the trail is maintained, so it could get brushy and dicey in places. View my Rubio Canyon Report - 10-30-04 and my Hiking Blog - 12-27-10 for more information. From the top of Echo Mountain, you can either return the way you came or descend via Sam Merrill to the Cobb Estate trailhead. Unless you have arranged a car shuttle, the walk between the trailheads of Rubio Canyon and Sam Merrill Trail is about a mile.