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Video – Browns Flat. Anyone make this trip recently?

Has anyone been to Browns Flat recently and actually made it?  If so, please share your route.  Yesterday I was stopped short by thick brush just shy of Browns Flat.  

I set out to from Cow Canyon Saddle to hike to Browns Flat.  I hiked the ridge up to Sunset Peak, and continued up and down on the ridge to the communications antennas.  Everything was straightforward up to this point.  

I hiked west along the communications tower ridge towards Browns Flat.  About 0.5 miles past the communications tower the brush became very thick.  Overhead.  Many branches with thorns.  I kept pushing through until I eventually came to a point where I had to crawl on my stomach commando style to make it through a tunnel of bush.  I included a photo taken from inside the commando crawl zone.  Eventually I popped out the other side and resumed on normal terrain.

I ended up at the yellow star in the photo.  Ideally I would have descended into Browns Flat from here.  But the brush was just too thick.  So I continued through very thick brush to the red star.  Here I tried to advance down.  I did not make it very far before I was floating on top of a pile of fallen limbs, brush, and assorted debris.  I couldn’t touch the ground and lacked secure footing.  I tried hard to get down to the blue star, but just couldn’t make it.

The last photo shows the halt of my final advance down from the red star.  Blocked just short of the target!  The brush was so tall I couldn’t get the camera above it.  

Back near the communications tower I realized the brush had unzipped the pocket of my backpack and my camera and trowel fell out.  I suspected it happened in the commando crawl maze.  Sure enough, I went back and surprisingly found it in the maze!  But the trowel was lost to the maze.

Nice job! Very tough travel through dense brush. Did the "trail" used to go along the ridge top or along the side of the ridge?

It looks like this fellow made it there once in 2005 for some geology field work. I guess the Williams fire had cleared some of the brush a couple of years before then. Some specifics are on pages 5-6:

Here are some photos of visits to Brown's Flat from the 1930s or so.


Probably have to copy the link and paste it.

Hi Walker,

Thanks for the posting the links.  Loved the photos from the 1930's and learning more about the Williams Fire.  

The trace trail stays directly on top of the ridge down to the yellow star.  After the yellow star, except for a few trace signs the trail is gone.  Between the yellow and red stars I left the ridge several times and traveled on the west side of the ridge.  Brush was less thick.

Thanks for the report and photos. I took a look at aerials. Your approach route seems best. Maybe you could hire Taco's team of Machete Brothers to finish clearing the trail.

What a cool destination. It looks like a fairway. You got very close. Thanks for the interesting report and pictures. Good luck on the next attempt!
Uncle Rico

That is very cool. Looking at topos, I've wondered about that spot. But I ain't commando crawling to get there so I'm glad to have you as my surrogate.  Cool

Browns Flat is one of the hardest places to reach which is what makes it a great destination. I have been there about 5 times. From the Cow canyon saddle I mtn Bike to the radio towers. From there you have to look for an old jeep trail that leads down into the flat. There is no marked beginning to this jeep trail..I just remember where it is and would have some difficulty finding it again. The trail starts before going all the way up to the towers and will be on the right.  In some sections it is a road but mostly a trail.  on the 7.5 minute series topo maps there is an old jeep trail marked that is now little more than a foot path with many washed out sections leading directly into the flat. The jeep trail is about 2 miles long. If you find the jeep trail it will bring you down into the eastern edge of the flat. Walking a short distance and looking left you should be looking back at the towers, looking on the ground in this same area are the remains of Mr. Browns cabin. Entering the flat on the eastern edge and walking due West, past the middle depression, there is a very old looking tree stand up a large pine tree. Hunters have been using  this area for a Long time. There is much bear sign in the area, Some of the pine trees have large scratches starting about 12 feet up coming all the way down. Walking through this flat you will have numerous friends wanting to come along.....TICKS.....they always join me in the flat. Literally every blade of tall grass will have a tick perched out on the edge, you've been warned. A long day to be sure reaching browns flat but worth the effort in my opinion.

Re: Video – Browns Flat. Anyone make this trip recently?

hbandrew wrote:

Has anyone been to Browns Flat recently and actually made it?  If so, please share your route.  Yesterday I was stopped short by thick brush just shy of Browns Flat.  

But...but....but... we know that Browns Flat lies within the San Dimas Experimental Forest for like 80+years and is therefore prohibited to the public?

This is a really cool page on it:

Seeing those pictures in John Robinson's book always made me dream about Browns Flat. Theres a picture of a small lake in the center of the meadow on Browns Flat and snow-capped Baldy in the background. Ahh  Exclamation

I like how that geologist was like "its always been carelessly called an ancient landslide" then at the end of his long his paper, hes like "its an ancient landslide"

Hey, that's cool. I still haven't been there. First saw it in high school on a hike. Always wondered about it. I'd be down to go camp there and have a mini party if anyone is down.
David R

I hiked Sunset Ridge and Colver Peak today and also checked out the ridge to Browns Flat. Some observations:

1. The old jeep road that started just as you go up the hill to the installation is impassable based on my first 30 yards of a go at it. The tread is visible from Colver Peak as it traverses the north slope but looks completely overgrown.

2. A possible option to get down to Brown's Flat is just after you get to the easternmost point of the flat, there is a ridge completely overgrown that drops into the flat and just west of that is a shallow draw. The spot can be noted as well as there is a small clearing just west of this draw midway between the ridge and the flat. I dropped down the initial steep 200 yards on sandy slopes with minimal vegetation growing on the slope itself. There was lots of low hanging vegetation which needed to get pushed aside but at least it wasn't underfoot. The initial view shows a lot of growth down there so things could go south quickly but drainages can sometimes be the best bet. In additional the gradient isn't bad once you're off the ridge. The distance looks at most like a half a mile to the flat.

3. The coolest thing about the flat is viewing it from afar as it is an oddity similar to the tarn off of Mt Deception ridge with minimal growth in it. Getting there is a goal but the enjoyment of it for me was viewing it from a distance. Forum Index -> San Gabriels
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