The last couple of times on Bommer Ridge, I’ve been giving a particular trail the evil eye as I pass:
From what I remember the last time I was down there almost two years ago, there was a ton of beauty. I also recall many curse words coming back out, even when I was in shape. But I guess, time heals all wounds (or at least deadens the pain), and yesterday I ventured back into Emerald Canyon.
The trail starts off dropping gently as it hugs a ridge off of Bommer:
Then, all of a sudden, there is a steep drop into the bowels of the canyon. At the bottom of the canyon is a wonderful grove of oaks and sycamore trees. This would be a great place for a picnic if it wasn’t three miles from the closest parking!
Right smack in the middle of this grove is the spur trail to climb back out:
It used to be that you could continue down the canyon to a dead end where Emerald Canyon enters a private community (Emerald Bay) in Laguna Beach. But, that trail was obliterated by the heavy rains during winter 2010/2011. There doesn’t appear to be any plans to rebuild access to the lower canyon.
Less than a quarter mile from the beginning of the spur, the trail pops out into something that we really don’t have a lot of here in Southern California – a meadow:
Just past the meadow, you reach the trail’s namesake – Emerald Falls. The falls themselves are a little anticlimactic. Hopefully people don’t take this trail for the view of the falls themselves (my handheld water bottle is thrown in for perspective):
In another half mile or so is where the fun really begins - a steep, rocky, technical trail that climbs relentlessly out of the canyon. I don’t think this photo gives the feel for just how steep the ascent is:
Maybe this one does. We were in that meadow down there a quarter mile ago:
Finally, two miles many gasping breaks and a few choice curse words after taking off from Bommer Ridge, we find ourselves back on El Moro Ridge:
And shortly after that, back on Bommer:
Total mileage from Pacific Ridge to Emerald to El Moro Ridge to Bommer Ridge and back to Pacific Ridge: 6 miles.
The good news is I was able to pig out at Mi Casa for dinner!