California Fool’s Gold — An Angeles Forest Primer

Angeles National Forest

Angeles National Forest is a vast 650,000 acre wood that serves as a residence for few humans and mountain playground for a population already spoiled for choice with ocean, desert and urban options… all available to be enjoyed in a single day. The National Forest was established by Executive Order in December 1892. It stretches from the Pacific Ocean to the Mojave Desert along the San Gabriel Mountains, spreading across five counties.


Pendersleigh & Sons‘ Official Map of Angeles Forest

In the Los Angeles County portion, the Angeles Forest is divided into two halves; one in Northwest Los Angeles County and the other, larger section, to the east, separated by the Antelope Valley Freeway and a series of small canyons formed along the seasonal Santa Clara River. This larger area of Los Angeles County‘s portion of the forest is known as the Angeles Forest District, which includes three sparsely populated neighborhoods, Angeles Crest, Lopez & Kagel Canyons, and the Tujunga Canyons. Angeles Forest is surround by San Bernadino County/The Inland Empire to the east, Pomona Valle to the southeast,Antelope Valley to the north, Northwest Los Angeles County to the west, San Fernando Valley to the southwest, and the Verdugos and San Gabriel Valley to the south.


Bear in Angeles Forest

The tiny population (4,346 in 2000) is roughly 73% white, 16% Latino, 6% black and 2% Asian. Non-human residents include bears, mountain lions, elk, coyotes, bobcats, deer, sheep and many other, less glamorous species. Trees of the area include endemic broadleaves like the Leather oak and many conifers including Bigcone Douglas-fir, Coast-Douglas Fir, Coulter Pine, Jeffrey Pine, Lodgepole Pine, Ponderosa Pine and White Fir. There are also many California Walnuts.


Angeles Crest Highway tunnel

The main highway in the region is the Angeles Crest Highway. Construction began in 1929 and was completed (by prisoners) in 1956. It’s been featured prominently in a few films. In Donnie Darko, when the title character awakens in the middle of the road, he’s on the 2 in Angeles Forest. It was also seen in two episodes of the Herbie franchise, both in The Love Bug and Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo (where it was meant to pass for the Alps). I’m sure there’s a lot more to the history, culture and specifically film world tied to the region and if the neighborhoods get enough votes, I’ll dig deeper.

And now, onto the neighborhoods:



Mt. Baldy

Angeles Crest is the largest “neighborhood.” Its residents are 72% white (mostly English, Irish and Lebanese), 12% Latino (mostly Mexican), 10% black and 2% Asian. There are many mountains in the area including Bare Mountain, Blue Ridge, Granite Mountain, Iron Mountain, Monrovia Peak, Morris Reservoir, Mount Baden-Powell, Mount Bliss, Mount Emma, Mount Harvard, Mount Islip, Mount Lawlor, Mount Lewis, Mount Markham, Mount Mooney, Mount Sally, Mount Williamson, Pine Mountain, Rattlesnake Peak, San Antonio Ridge, Silver Mountain, Smith Mountain, Strawberry Peak, Twin Peaks East, Waterman Mountain and Winston Ridge. The tallest mountain is Mount San Antonio, commonly known as Mt. Baldy because of its floral alopecia. Mount Wilson is home to the Mount Wilson Observatory, an astronomical observatory containing two historically important telescopes: the Hale Telescope built in 1908, and the Hooker Telescope, which was the largest telescope in the world from 1917 till 1948 (check out the Mount Wilson webcam). There’s also the San Gabriel River-fed Cogswell Reservoir for fun times.


Kagel Canyon homes

The smallest neighborhood in Angeles Forest are the Lopez & Kagel Canyons; its small population is roughly 62% white (mostly English, German and Canadian), 27% Latino (mostly Mexican) and 9% black.Kagel Canyon is home to several parks; Glen Haven Memorial Park, Sholom Memorial Park, and Dexter Park. Lopez Canyon is… Lopez Canyon.


Tujunga Canyons

The second largest region of Angeles Forest are the Tujunga Canyons. The residents are about 77% white (mostly German, English and Canadian) and 15% Latino (mostly Mexican). Mountains include Agua Dulce Mountain, Condor Peak, Fox Mountain, Hoyt Mountain, Kagel Mountain, Limerock Peak, Magic Mountain, Mendenhall Peak, Mount Gleason, Mount Lukens, Parker Mountain and Yerba Buena Ridge. Reservoirs in the vicinity include the Big Tujunga Reservoir and the Pacoima Reservoir. Neighborhood parks Placerita Canyon State Park, Saddletree Open Space, Soledad Sands Park and Wilson Canyon Park.

If you’d like to to vote for any of the neighborhoods of Angeles Crest or any other Los Angeles County communities to be covered on the blog vote here. To vote for Los Angeles neighborhoods, click
hereTo vote for Orange County neighborhoods, vote here.

Eric Brightwell is an adventurer, writer, rambler, explorer, cartographer, and guerrilla gardener who is always seeking writing, speaking, traveling, and art opportunities. He is not interested in writing advertorials, clickbait, or listicles and jobs must pay more than slave wages as he would rather write for pleasure than for peanuts. Brightwell’s written work has appeared in AmoeblogdiaCRITICS, and KCET Departures. His work has been featured by the American Institute of Architects, the Architecture & Design Museum, the Craft & Folk Art MuseumForm Follows FunctionLos Angeles County StoreSkid Row Housing Trust, and 1650 Gallery. Brightwell has been featured in the Los Angeles TimesHuffington PostLos Angeles MagazineLAistEastsider LABoing Boing, Los Angeles, I’m Yours, and on Notebook on Cities and Culture. He has been a guest speaker on KCRW‘s Which Way, LA? and at Emerson College. Art prints of his maps are available from 1650 Gallery and on other products from Cal31. He is currently writing a book about Los Angeles and you can follow him on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

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