Another weekday hike with S from my favorite OC hiking book – Afoot and Afield by Jerry Schad. This time we went to Harding Canyon, which is right next to the popular Harding Truck trail over in Modjeska Canyon.
Both the hikes share the same trailhead just to the right of the Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary. Harding Truck trail is very exposed and is the main trail while the Canyon trail veers off to the left near the beginning.
You will need some nerves of steel for this hike if you choose to do it in April. You’ll see lots of wildlife here such as frogs, newts, birds, caterpillars, beetles, grasshoppers, and not pictured… snakes. Lots of them. And some of them are angry. We surprised a rattlesnake who curled up and rattled his tail as we walked toward it. Fair enough. We froze and backed away… then ran. The rattle is louder than you think and really does shake you to your core! We spent a good 10 minutes getting our nerves back and debating whether or need we should continue or turn around. Turning around was a very appealing option since nobody else but us two were in this canyon at the time. If one of us got bit, the other one would have to do some serious dragging to get back to civilization. No phone signal whatsoever in this canyon either. In the end we decided to throw rocks into the area where we saw the snake to ensure it wasn’t sticking around, and continue on with the hike fully on guard for any hidden snakes.
If you choose to continue on it is worth it. Lots of pools of water all cascading into each other. As we continued we saw two more snakes, but this time we gave them fair warning by using our poles to tap on all rocks before passing by to give snakes ample warning of our approach. It worked as the two remaining snakes we saw were slithering away from us instead of hissing of us. I’m sure there were more that we did not spot but I am glad I did not see them. One snake is a cool sighting, but three is just nerve racking.
The almost end! This pool is a nice place to break for lunch. The falls are about 3/4 of a mile from here, but apparently it involves a lot of climbing and at this point we were too freaked out by the thoughts of snakes so we turned around. But this ending is not so bad either! We started around 10AM and got back to our car around 5PM. 7 hours total while the book suggested 5 hours. Normally we are not that slow, but we slowed our pace down considerably due to the snakes. When you purposely hit every rock and pebble in front of you with poles before proceeding, it takes a lot of extra time. In the end we were just happy to be back at the car safe without any snake bites.
Date hiked: April 11th, 2017
Time: 7 hours
Miles: 6.4 miles round trip (with waterfall it is 7.5 miles. source here.)
Trailhead: Harding Truck Trail Trailhead