Lytle Creek offers a quick getaway into the wild

I am amazed to find that it is six years since I visited Lytle Creek. It was back in November 2002 that I went to talk to the rangers at their station at the entrance to the park. It had once again been a very dry year and there were lots of warnings and restrictions in operation to limit people's movements in the area.

One year later in 2003, fires swept through the area, and then around Christmas there was a terrible flood that caused mud to flow down the creek and trap campers and drivers. It was a very bad time.

Six years later, nature has replenished itself, and today the creek is a lovely sight with softly flowing clear water; bubbling and sparkling its way along the rocky banks. A photographer's dream - if you can avoid the reflection off the surface, particularly if you are there in the afternoon. This is when the sun begins to drop behind the mountaintops, causing an early end to the day.

This was the first time I had gone up the creek the 10 miles to where the pavement runs out. I was surprised to find so many residents along the way. Houses and trailers are gathered in quiet spots and no doubt they are always on the lookout for signs of another rising of the water level following any storm.

There is a shooting range after seven miles, for target practice, and there are several places to camp within sound of the running water. It's hard to realize that the busy Interstate 15 is just a few miles to the south east. Drivers there are intent on reaching their goals of spinning roulette wheels, snapping cards, and rolling dice, mostly unaware of the beautiful countryside they are passing beside.

For the truly outdoor oriented, there is a hike from Lytle Creek to Mount Baldy. One of the rangers casually mentioned that it takes a couple of days with an overnight stop. I was forced to think of the circumstances that would encourage me to make that trip.

I like the outdoors, but today with temperatures dropping as quickly as the sun, I don't think it would be on my immediate list of things to do. But for people wanting to escape the so-called rat race, surely there can be no greater solution than four days of isolation - with two overnight stops, of course. I assume the rangers would permit a small fire to cook by and scare away the nocturnal animals; but maybe not. Maybe you have to face the nights with just a cold dinner and cold drinks surrounded by sounds that might originate from anything. I have to confess that any slight tendency I had towards such a trip would shrink greatly with the lack of a fire.

Although restrictions are in force for many of the trails, there are still plenty of places to get away from it all and maybe just sit and relax. It is hard to realize that the burgeoning city of Rancho Cucamonga is so adjacent.

The ranger station itself is well stocked with items for your visit - maps, books, T-shirts and a staff of very helpful, knowledgeable people to handle any inquiries you might have.

There has been a station here since the 1800s, as the area has always been of interest to people wanting to experience something of nature. Although not very high up at 2,700 feet, rising to 3,300 feet, one feels completely in the mountains without having driven a long distance. An Adventure Pass is necessary for any exploring you might want to do, but it's good value for all the sights you will see before you have to get back to true civilization, just 10 miles away.


WANT TO GO?

Ranger station: (909) 382-2850
Target shooting range number: (909) 782-7438
Adventure Pass: $5 per day
Fishing licenses are not sold at the ranger station.