Sunday, May 21, 2017

Spotlight: Los Angeles - Greystone Mansion

Spotlight: Greystone Mansion (aka. Doheny Mansion) was designed by Gordon Kaufman, and built in 1928 in the Tudor Revival style at a cost of more than $3 million. Each of the seven chimneys was designed by a different artist. The estate was a gift by oil magnate Edward Doheny to his son, Edward Doheny Jr. - "Ned." Among the 55 rooms, the mansion included servant's quarters, which accommodated a live-in staff of fifteen. The mansion boasts a Grand Hall with black and white inlaid marble. The ornate living room includes a balcony where musicians would perform for special events. The recreation wing was complete with a theater and a bowling alley. The grounds include beautiful gardens, fountains, kennels, tennis courts, a fire station, swimming pool and a greenhouse.



     Ned, his wife Lucy, and their five children lived in the mansion moved into the mansion in 1928. Four months later, Ned died in a guest bedroom as part of a murder-suicide with his secretary Hugh Plunket. The details of the murder remain sketchy, but the official story states that Plunket killed Ned, then took his own life. After Ned's death, his wife re-married, and remained on the estate until 1954.


     In 1965, the estate was purchased by the city of Beverly Hills and converted into a public park in 1971. It has appeared in hundreds of movies, TV shows, commercials and music videos, including: National Treasure II, Star Trek 2, all three Spiderman films, The Muppets, X-Men, Batman and Robin, The Bodyguard, The Witches of Eastwick, Ghostbusters II, There Will Be Blood (loosely based on the life of Edward Doheny) and many more.

Location: Greystone Mansion is located at 905 Loma Vista Dr., Beverly Hills, CA.

Cost: Admission to the grounds is free. Admission to special events may cost extra. Ranger-led tours are available on select dates for $15/person.

Time: The park is open from 10:00 am - 5 pm (Oct.-Mar.) and until 6:00 pm from April - September. Plan on spending about 1-2 hours walking the grounds.

Description: Today, the Greystone Mansion hosts a variety of seasonal cultural events for the city of Beverly Hills. These events are designed for a wide variety of audiences, including: Beverly Hills Flower & Garden Festival, Catskills West Summer Camp, Classics in the Courtyard, Concours d'Elegance, Greystone Tours, Music in the Mansion, Showcase House and The Annual Hollywood Ball.
     Unless you are there for a special event, most visitors to the estate explore the grounds on their own. Rangers are often on hand and can answer questions you may have. Anyone can tour the grounds, but you can only tour the mansion for special events. Special two hour ranger led tours are available on select dates, but you must pre-register to join one.



Rating: 3 1/2 stars (out of 5)

Things You Should Know: - Every year, the mansion is used to perform the play The Manor, written by Kathrine Bates. The Manor is performed by Theatre 40 of Beverly Hills, and takes place in different rooms of the mansion. The audience is split into groups that view scenes in a different order. The plot is a fictionalized drama of the Doheny family, including their involvement in the Teapot Dome Scandal and Ned's murder.
- Greystone Mansion (both interior and exterior) is available to rent for special occasions. The Formal Gardens can comfortably accommodate 400 guests. The Courtyard can accommodate 200 guests. The Pool Area can accommodate 150 guests. The Terrace can accommodate 60 guests.
- The grounds are open seven days a week unless closed for holidays, filming, or special events; so check this site before you go.
Parking in free.
- One of the chimneys has a red signal light. Because the mansion was so remote, they used it to signal the city if there was an emergency.

Nearby: Virginia Robinson Gardens, Franklin Canyon Park, The Getty Center, Hollywood Bowl

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Spotlight: Los Angeles - Getty Center

Spotlight: The Getty Center is a campus of the Getty Museum. After J. Paul Getty died in 1976, his entire estate was turned over to the Getty Trust. When the Getty Collection outgrew the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades (Getty's property), it was decided to open a new branch known as the Getty Center. A beautiful site was chosen among the Santa Monica Mountains, and Richard Meier was chosen as the architect tasked with designing it. The Center was built at a cost of $1.3 billion and opened to public in 1997.
     The Center branch of the Museum features pre-20th Century European paintings, drawings, sculptures, etc. The center also features a photograph collection from the Americas, Europe and Asia, dating from the 19th and 20th centuries. In addition to the indoor galleries, several gardens beautify the grounds surrounding the museums. The large Central Garden was designed by Robert Irwin.

Location: The Getty Center is located at 1200 Getty Center Dr., Los Angeles, CA, just west of the 405 Freeway.

Cost: Admission is free; Parking - $15; $10 after 3:00 pm

Time: Open Tues.-Friday & Sunday from 10:00-5:30; Saturday from 10:00 am - 9:00 pm.; Plan on spending anywhere between 2-5 hours.

Description: The museum's collection of European paintings, drawings and sculptures are on display in four main pavilions, arranged roughly by era and nationality. The North Pavilion displays the collections art from the early Renaissance era (prior to 1600). The East Pavilion primary features primarily 17th century Baroque art as well as sculptures and Italian decorative arts from 1600-1800. The South Pavilion displays 18th century paintings and the majority of the museum's European decorative arts.The West Pavilion displays sculpture and Italian decorative arts from the 1700's - 1900, including Neoclassical, Romantic, and Symbolist sculpture. It is also the home to the Center for Photographs, which are constantly being rotated in order to avoid permanent damage due to excessive exposure to light. Some of the more famous paintings include: Irises (1889) by Vincent Van Gogh, Arii Matamoe (1892) by Paul Gauguin, and Portrait of a Halberdier (1530) by Pontormo, as well as additional Van Goghs and some Monets.


     The Getty Research Institute offers changing exhibits of rare books, manuscripts, photographs, artist's notebooks and other materials from the Museum's special collections.
     The Exhibitions Pavilion displays from collections on loan from other museums around the world. When we were there, the special exhibit was the Cave Temples of Dunhuang, which included exact 1:1 replicas of 3 of the caves found along the Silk Road that were used by travelers along the route. Of the 1,000+ caves, about half of them had artifacts such as statues, paintings, scrolls, etc. The exhibit also included a 3-D movie on another cave, complete with detailed descriptions of the items found inside. It was spectacular.




     Modern and contemporary sculptures are on display throughout the gardens. The 134,000 sq. foot Central Garden contains more than 500 varieties of plants used in the landscaping. It features a natural ravine and a beautiful tree-lined walkway which meander along streams, a waterfall a pool, and lush vegetation. Unfortunately, because of traffic, we didn't have time to explore them.

Rating: 4.5 stars (out of 5), although the traffic to and from the Center gets -5 stars

Things You Should Know: - The Getty is closed on Mondays.
- A computer-operated tram takes you from street-level (one level up from the parking garage) up the hill to the museum. If you prefer to walk, there is a pedestrian sidewalk about 3/4 of a mile in length - but steep. It will take about 15 -20 minutes to walk it.
- To schedule a group tour of Research Institute exhibitions, please e-mail GRIconnect@getty.edu.
- The Getty Center has a companion facility known as The Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades.
- Traffic getting to and from the Getty Center can be frustrating. Also, if the parking lot is full, you will be turned away and told to return at a later time.
- Not all artwork on display is PG.

Nearby: UCLA, Will Rogers State Historic Park, Westridge-Canyonback Wilderness Park, Rodeo Drive

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Spotlight:Southern California - Mount San Jacinto State Park

Spotlight: At 10,834 feet, Mt. San Jacinto is the second tallest peak in southern California. Although it towers more than 8,000 feet over the surrounding desert, it isn't as inaccessible as it may appear. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway in nearby Palm Springs takes visitors from Valley Station (2,643 feet) to Mountain Station (8,516 feet). At Mountain Station, visitors can enjoy the State Park Visitor Center, a restaurant, gift shop, snack bar and bird's eye views of Palm Springs. Nearby Long Valley Ranger Station provides access to a picnic area with BBQ grills, a ski center, a self-guided nature trail, and the Desert View Trail. From here you can access wilderness area, with a permit, that will allow you to camp or hike the Pacific Crest Trail to the top of Mt. San Jacinto where you feel like you're on top of the world.


Location: Mount San Jacinto State Park is in Idyllwild, just west of Palm Springs. It is accessible via the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.

Cost: Tram tickets are $29.95/adult; $16.95/child (3-12); and $23.95/senior (65+). Day-use wilderness permits are free. Overnight wilderness permits cost $5/person. Parking is $5/vehicle.

Time: Park office hours are from 10am-4pm (Monday-Friday) and 8am-4pm (Saturday & Sunday). If you just go for the tram ride, plan on spending between 1-4 hours. If you want to hike to the summit, it will take most of the day, or you can split it up over two days if you want to take your time.

Description: The tram ride from Valley Station to Mountain Station takes 12 1/2 minutes. The tram floor rotates giving everyone a rotating view of the valley and mountain. We were able to carry our loaded packs on the tram with us.




     With our wilderness permits in hand, we hiked two miles to Round Valley where we camped for the night. The girls slept in a tent, while the guys slept under the stars, which were gorgeous.

     In the morning, we donned our day packs and hiked the 3.3 miles to the summit. Along the way, we signed our names in the guest register of a 1930's cabin.



     After spending about half an hour at the peak, we hiked back to our campsite, packed up our stuff and headed back to the valley on the tram.

Rating: 4 1/2 stars (out of 5)

Things You Should Know: - "To ensure the preservation of the natural environment and assure the visitor of a quality visitor experience, the Department of Parks and Recreation has instituted a Wilderness Permit system; everyone entering the wilderness area for the day or for camping must have a permit in their possession.  Day use wilderness permits are free and are available at the State Park Headquarters in Idyllwild or at the Long Valley Ranger Station.  Applications for overnight permits will be accepted up to 56 days (8 weeks) in advance; if you apply by mail, send your request in at least 10 days in advance. Sorry, no telephone or FAX requests can be accepted."
- Click here to access Wilderness Permit applications. Groups are limited to 15 people, and must have an adult. No dogs are allowed.
- If you are unaccustomed to high elevation, you may want to be prepared with medication to deal with possible high altitude sickness.
- The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is the largest rotating aerial tramway in the world. It runs about every 30 minutes.
- The temperature on the mountain can be as much as 40 degrees cooler than temperature on the valley floor, so be prepared with jackets or sweatshirts.

Nearby: Wet 'n' Wild Palm Springs water park, Sunnylands Center & Gardens, Desert Willow Golf Resort, Coachella Valley Preserve

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Spotlight: Snow Canyon State Park

Spotlight: Snow Canyon State Park is one of the most beautiful state parks in the country. If it were in another state, it would probably have been made into a national park or monument. However, because it lacks national park status, it also avoids the heavy crowds that plague the nearby parks of Zion and Bryce. That makes it a premier location for hikers, cyclists, climbers, and horseback riders who want to escape civilization for a day or two. It sports over 16 miles of hiking trails amid the red and white sandstone cliffs, and provides many technical climbs for rock enthusiasts.

Location: Snow Canyon State Park is located north of St. George, just west of Highway 18 on Snow Canyon Drive.

Cost: $6 per vehicle (up to eight people); $3 per vehicle (up to eight people) Utah seniors 62 and older; $4 pedestrian/cyclists (up to eight people); $2 per person commercial use or vehicles with nine or more people. Non-hookup sites:  $20 per night;  Hookup Sites (W&E):  $25 per night. Extra vehicle fees (one extra vehicle per site permitted):  $10 (non-hookups) or $13 (hookups).

Time: The park is open from 6:00 am to 10 pm daily. You can spend anywhere from an hour (for a scenic drive) to several days here (exploring the different trails).

Description: One of the most popular trails in the park is the 1.1 mile Lava Flow Trail. The trail crosses a twisted lava field which access to at least four lava tubes. Make sure you bring your own light source if you plan to explore the tubes past the entrance.
     One of the trails we explored was Jenny's Canyon. This half-mile hike leads into a narrow slot canyon with cool niches that are fun for kids to explore.



     The Pioneer Names Trail is an easy half-mile path that leads past the names of many early pioneers (dating from the 1800's) who passed through the canyon and wrote their names on the rocks with axle grease.


     The Sand Dunes Trail is another half-mile trail, but this trail trudges through loose sand up a slope to reach a large field of red sand that is fun to play in. Some crazy people even like to roll down the dunes.
     Due to its close proximity to St. George, Snow Canyon can be a short day trip, or a multi-day excursion. We've visited twice and only seen a fraction of what there is to explore here. I'm looking forward to returning again sometime soon.

Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)

Things You Should Know: - Although Snow Canyon sounds like a winter wonderland, it rarely ever has snow. Rather, it was named after prominent Utah settlers Lorenzo and Erastus Snow. During the summer, temperatures here can soar well over 100 degrees. The best time to visit is anytime between October to April. If you do visit during the summer months, try to visit the park early in the morning or later in the evening when temperatures are more moderate.
- Click here for a map of the park including the various trails and amenities.
- The park has been the backdrop for several popular Hollywood films including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Nearby: The Tuacahn Center, Gunlock State Park, Pioneer Park, Sand Hollow

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Spotlight: Zion National Park - The Virgin Narrows

Spotlight: The Virgin Narrows are one of the most beautiful canyons in the world. In this section of the park, the Virgin River is enclosed by cliffs towering thousands of feet high, while the river below surges through a gorge that can be as narrow as 20 feet wide. I was extremely impressed by its raw beauty the first time I hiked it. The second time, left an even greater impression on me as I witnessed the raw power of nature as I watched a flash flood sweep through this normally peaceful canyon. That experience became the backbone of my first published novel, The Narrows Escape, which took place in this idyllic canyon. The hike was ranked #5 in National Geographic's rankings of America's 100 Best Adventures. I wholeheartedly agree.

Location: The Virgin Narrows are located in Zion National Park at the base of the Temple of Sinawava. The trail head for the complete hike is located at Chamberlains Ranch, outside of park boundaries; but you can also access the Narrows from the bottom via the Riverside Walk Trail.

Cost: $30/private vehicle for a week-long pass. Commercial vehicles are charged $15/person. If you do the entire hike, you must make a reservation for a permit (non-refundable $5). The permit costs $15 for 1-2 people, $20 for 3-7 people, and $25 for 8-12.

Time: Most people will probably spend 1-2 hours in the lower section of the Narrows (accessed via the Riverside Walk). More adventurous folks might spend 4-6 hours exploring the Narrows. Of course, to do the whole hike, you will spend anywhere from 10-18 hours hiking, which will usually necessitate you spending the night at one of the designated camping spots within the canyon.

Description: There are two different ways to access the Narrows. The most common way is by hiking to the base of the canyon via the one-mile paved Riverside Walk to the base of the Temple of Sinawava. From there you can hike up the river as far as Big Spring - which is a 10-mile round trip all-day excursion. You can't go past Big Spring without a wilderness permit. Of course, most people do not even make it that far. Remember, because you are hiking in the river, it will take a lot longer to hike one mile than it would on dry ground. Regardless of how far up you go, just remember that for every mile you hike up, you need to leave enough time to hike another mile back down.

     The other way to hike the Narrows is to do the 16-mile hike that starts at Chamberlains Ranch and ends at the Riverside Walk. This hike requires a permit and probably a campsite reservation as well (although if you get an early start and are an experienced hiker, it is possible to hike it in one day). It also requires making transportation arrangements to get dropped off at Chamberlains Ranch so that you can access your vehicle once you are through. The drive to and from Chamberlains Ranch from the park is about an hour and a half each way.
     The full hike passes through different phases. You start out in an open valley following an old jeep trail. Along the way there are a few signs of human existence, such as an old cabin or abandoned tractor. Gradually, the trail dips down into a canyon. During this phase, the trail crosses the river periodically, but you don't necessarily have to get your feet wet right away if you try and jump from boulder to boulder. Eventually, however, the river bottom becomes the primary trail.


     The narrowest section of the hike is actually in the Little Narrows, a slot canyon that gets as narrow as 10 feet. Shortly thereafter, the river goes down a waterfall which is about 20 feet high. Although it is possible to jump into the pool below if the water is deep enough, doing so without scouting out the pool for underwater obstacles would be extremely dangerous. Luckily, there is a path to the left of the waterfall (heading downstream) that takes you down to the base.


     Although there are a dozen different campsites in the Narrows, the most popular one is probably #8 - The Grotto. It is a large cave perfect for spending the night as long as you have a permit to do so. Shortly after this spot is Big Spring. This spot has clean spring water that is often used to refill canteens. Even though it appears to be completely safe, you should always use a filter when extracting water from wilderness areas.
The Grotto
Big Spring
     Right after Big Spring, you enter the Narrows, which comprise the remainder of the hike. Although the Little Narrows are even more narrow, the ratio here is astounding. The sun only shines on many parts of these Narrows for a couple of hours each day, creating a surreal type atmosphere.


Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)

Things You Should Know: - The Narrows and branch canyons (such as Orderville) are often closed in the spring due to high volume of water from snowmelt. They are also closed whenever the National Weather Service issues a flash flood warning and remain closed for 2 hours after the warning is lifted. When planning a trip, check with the NPS website regarding closures.
- As a flash flood survivor, I can verify that they are potentially deadly. If there is a risk, don't risk it. We received our permits when the flash flood danger was listed as moderate. Unbeknownst to us, it was upgraded to severe shortly thereafter. Luckily, when the flash flood did pass through, we were in a spot where we could access high ground. However, there are many sections of the canyon which do not have accessible high ground. If we had been in one of those sections, we could have all died. Although I haven't done the full hike again, I have done the bottom section several times since then. To find out more about this near disaster, and see the actual pictures my uncle took, you can refer to one of my other blogs: The DTB Cousins.
- The river bottom is often strewn with bowling ball size rocks. This means that you need to be sure of your footing before taking another step - especially since some of these rocks are covered in slippery moss since they rarely see the sun. While running to get out of the river, my father slipped and got a nasty goose egg on his shin, so be cautious.
- Although you can do the whole hike in one day, I wouldn't recommend it. Part of the adventure is taking time to stop and enjoy the different views that can only be experienced within the canyon walls.

Nearby: Bryce Canyon National Park, Grafton Ghost Town, Kanarraville Falls, Red Cliffs Desert Reserve

Monday, April 17, 2017

Travel Tip #52 - Take advantage of Spring Break to Make some Memories

     Spring Break is a great time to get out of the house and see things. First of all, since your kids already have the time off school, you can take a family vacation without worrying about your kid getting behind in his classes, or trying to get all the homework he/she will be missing while you are gone. As a school teacher, I know how important this can be.
     Another good reason to take a trip during spring break is because it isn't considered peak season for many tourist locations. Since each school district fixes its own calendar, Spring Break can fall anywhere from early March until late April. With only a fraction of the nation on Spring Break on any given week, even popular tourist spots will usually have smaller crowds, less traffic and lower prices.
     Also, the weather is usually just about perfect around much of the nation - not too hot, not too cold. This is especially important if you would like to visit hot climates - such as the national parks in Utah, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, Florida, Hawaii, etc. Of course, after the long winter, don't forget to wear sunscreen!
     Even if you can't afford to take that much time off work, it is a great time to do a couple of day trips locally. Whether we've done big trips (like Florida last year) or smaller day trips (this year), we've always made sure we've done something fun with the kids; because before you know it, they won't be kids anymore. So go out and make some memories!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Spotlight: Zion National Park - The Subway

Spotlight: If you ask any avid hiker to name the best hikes in the country, at least one of the Big Three hikes located in Zion National Park will make the list - if not all three: Angels Landing, The Subway, and The Narrows. Yet, while many avid hikers are familiar with the names of all three hikes, chances are good that if the hiker has only hiked two of them, those two would be Angels Landing and The Narrows. That isn't because those two hikes are necessarily more popular; rather, it is because they are more accessible. You don't need a permit to hike Angels Landing or the bottom section of The Narrows. Anyone in the park can gain access to them (although you do need a permit to hike the upper section of The Narrows). However, no one can legally enter the Subway without a permit; and anyone who does will likely end up paying a hefty fine. Since those permits are limited to 80 persons/day, they are worth more than their weight in gold. The Subway is without a doubt one of the most spectacular hikes in the nation. It sat at the top of my bucket list for years until I was finally able to check it off a few years ago. When I finally did, I wasn't disappointed. If you are an avid hiker, these three hikes are absolute musts!

Location: The Subway is located along the Left Fork of North Creek inside Zion National Park off of Kolob Terrace Road.

Cost: $30/private vehicle for a week-long pass. Commercial vehicles are charged $15/person. In addition, you must apply for a permit (non-refundable $5) which you might not get since there is a lottery in place. Once you win, you need to pay for the permit, which is $15 for 1-2 people, $20 for 3-7 people, and $25 for 8-12.

Time: The hike takes about 6-9 hours. The earlier you start, the better. You don't want to risk getting stuck in the canyon in wet clothes after dark!

Description: There are two ways to hike the Subway. Both are strenuous and require hikers to be in good physical condition. The more adventurous route is to hike down from the top. "This is a strenuous 9.5-mile hike that requires rappelling skills, 60 feet of rope, and extensive route finding experience. The route also requires swimming through several deep pools of very cold debris-filled water. The trail begins at the Wildcat Canyon Trailhead and ends at the Left Fork Trailhead. Both trailheads are located on the Kolob Terrace Road." My group didn't take this route because we didn't have enough rappelling experience or a Subway veteran to lead us (more on that later).
A group rappelling into the Subway
     The other route is to hike up from the bottom and back out again. "This is a strenuous 9-mile round-trip hike through the Left Fork of North Creek that requires route finding, creek crossing, and scrambling over boulders. This hike begins and ends at the Left Fork Trailhead on the Kolob Terrace Road." This is the route we took. Even though we missed out on some of the adventure involved in rappelling down the cliffs, we had a lot of fun jumping into pools of water, sliding down slick-rock water slides, and sitting under waterfalls.

     The trailhead is located several hundred feet above the Left Fork of North Creek. From the parking lot, you follow the trail northeast for about half a mile. The trail then zigzags down a steep cliff for about 400 feet. The trail has a lot of loose rocks and sand, so use caution. Once you reach the bottom, it is a good idea to look back up the cliff and take a mental picture of black volcanic rock outcropping so that you will remember where you need to climb back up.
The cliff
     As you hike up the stream, try to follow the designated trail. Even then, much of the time you will be trudging through the stream or boulder-hopping. In any case, always use care since rocks and boulders may be slippery or loose.


     After roughly two miles, you will start hiking on the slickrock. At this stage, you will see several cascades and waterfalls. The falls can be bypassed on the right. When hiking up the cascades, use caution because they can be extremely slippery due to moss growth. Upstream from the second waterfall is the famous "train track" crack where much of the water flows through a long, narrow crack.

Train Track Crack
     Soon, the canyon will make a sharp right turn and the magnificent Subway formation will become visible. It is a narrow canyon that widens at the bottom creating what looks like a subway tunnel. Once you hike into this section, you will see several small emerald pools you can swim/wade in. If you want to get soaked, continue through these to the Waterfall Room where a 20 foot waterfall cascades down into the pool. This marks the turnaround point since you can't go on without rappelling gear.
The Subway


     Enjoy the scenery from the opposite view as you hike out. You might want to take some time to try out the natural slickrock slides that are present at a few different spots. When you reach the end, the hike back up the 400 foot cliff can be draining, so make sure you leave enough time to get out before dark.

Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)

Things You Should Know: - You must have a permit to hike the Subway, regardless of the direction you travel. Only 80 permits are issued each day in order to keep the area from being destroyed from heavy foot traffic. To obtain a permit, you should apply for one through an advanced lottery system. On-line reservations for each new month (3 months ahead) become available on the 5th day of every month at 10:00 am MT. A few permits are saved for a "Last Minute Drawing." These can be applied for on-line during a window from 7-2 days before the hike (at noon MT).
- After reserving your permit on-line, you must pick up your permit in person the day before (or the day of) your hike at the Zion Canyon or Kolob Canyon Visitor Centers.
- There is no lottery to hike from November-March due to the scarcity of applications. However, hiking during this time frame requires cold water protective gear.
- Hiking in April is more challenging due to spring run-off.
- Do not hike the canyon if there is rain due to the flash flood potential. It is difficult to lose a hard-earned permit, but it is better than losing your life.
- Camping is not permitted in the Left Fork.
- Only experienced hikers should hike the Subway! Regardless, it is always a good idea to hike with a first aid kit since there is always the chance of cuts and bruises due to loose rocks or slippery stones. It is also a good idea to carry some moleskin to take care of blisters.
- There are many "false trails" that have been made by careless hikers. If a trail is "blocked off" by rocks or logs, it isn't the right trail.
- Regardless of how experienced the hikers are, they should be accompanied by someone who knows the route or obtain a detailed route description. Even then, it is easy to stray off the trail. Some friends of mine hiked from the top down and took a wrong turn that took them to a cliff which was taller than their rope. Since it was getting late, they were compelled to go down it anyway so as not to be caught in the canyon after dark. One of them suffered severe rope burns on his hands and another fell about ten feet and hit his head. Luckily no one was injured worse. The moral of the story is that everyone in the group should be familiar with the landmarks of the trail so as to decrease the chances of you taking a wrong turn.

Nearby: Angels Landing, Birch Creek Falls, Pioneer Park (St. George), Snow Canyon St. Park