On the Road is a weekday feature spotlighting reader photo submissions. From the exotic to the familiar, whether you’re traveling or in your own backyard, we would love to see the world through your eyes.
On the Road will continue, but it will be forever Alain’s.
Brown Mountain Dam is named for Brown Mountain, which was named for John Brown, the abolitionist, by John Brown’s sons, who were known as the The Brown Boys. How cool is that? Even if the dam was not built to hold water (?!) there’s still a waterfall, which makes me happy! ~WaterGirl
Brown Mountain Dam is on Arroyo Seco whose watershed is the area north and west of San Gabriel Peak and flows through Pasadena (including by the Rose Bowl) and on to meeting the LA River just north of downtown LA. The dam is named for the nearby Brown Mountain to the east. Brown Mountain was named for John Brown the abolitionist by his sons (known locally as “The Brown Boys”) who lived in a cabin in the hills above Arroyo Seco. The dam was built in the early 1940’s and it’s intent is not hold water but debris. Some of the water that flows towards the dam stays behind the dam creating a lush landscape. The remaining water flows over the dam, creating a lovely manmade waterfall. This was the goal of this hike.
There are two ways to get to Brown Mountain Dam, park by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and hike up though the canyon, or park by an electrical substation and hike down into the canyon and cut off half the distance, I chose the later which meant that I’d have to climb out of the canyon at the end of my hike. Once you reach the canyon there’s a good sized campground along the arroyo. Heading north you pass a number of crumbling foundations of houses that used to line the arroyo, most falling victim to fire and floods. Unlike the sun baked hills flanking the arroyo, the foliage is lush by the stream with many flowers. After passing a couple of picnic spots and stream crossings (no bridges) you arrive at Paul Little Picnic Area and was greeted by a woodpecker hammering a tree with it’s beak. Heading north a few yards you begin to hear the sound of falling water and know that you’re close to the goal.
The trail up the arroyo begins wide since it used to have accommodate autos for folk to get to their cabins along the side of the arroyo. These cabin have been burned and flooded out over the years and never rebuilt.
Arroyo Seco runs from Mt. Lowe, though Pasadena and converges with the LA River just north of Downtown LA. This portion of the arroyo is about 2 miles north of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
As you reach the Paul Little Picnic area you begin to hear the sound of falling water, a short hike further you see the cause, Brown Mountain Dam.
A pretty good cascade of water falls over the dam into the pool below.
Brown Mountain Dam is a debris dam on Arroyo Seco highlighted in this IR photo.
Arroyo Seco was dammed in the early 1940’s by the US Forest Service by Brown Mountain Dam. The area behind the dam almost immediately filled with sediment and is not useful for irrigation of flood control. It pretty much serves as a man made waterfall.
You can see the lush growth in the silt above the dam.
Returning to the Paul Little Picnic site we hear a hammer like sound, it’s a woodpecker in one of the pine trees (I didn’t take my bigger zoom lens thinking I wouldn’t need it).