The Marx Brothers (the immensely popular family act known for their stage and film performances from the early 1920s to the late ’60s), bought the 107-acre tract in 1960 and planned to sell it for use as a cemetery. Fortunately, a group of local ecologists stepped in, purchased the land and turned it over to the Forest Service in 1971 as a nature preserve.
This one had a bigger opening but didn’t have much depth to it.
Gold mining activities in the canyon started around 1881 but soon merged with tunneling for irrigation water which was more profitable. Only one of the tunnels within the canyon (tunnel #8) is still in operation. Because of excessive fluoride and uranium, it has not been used for drinking water since 1974 and is now used only for reclamation purposes. Another one of the mines is named after the founder of Rand McNally & Company. Andrew McNally’s old estate is located nearby at the intersection of Mariposa and Santa Rosa Streets.
Tunnel #4 is one of the best mines to explore within this steep, overgrown canyon.
Inside Tunnel #4 which is the longest of the 12 mines within the canyon at 837ft.
There’s about a foot of water at the beginning of the mine…
…which tends to scare most people off from exploring it, but once you get in a little ways, the water recedes and it begins to open up.
Like other mines located in the San Gabriel Mountains, calciferous deposits can be found in numerous sections of tunnel #4.
There are several drifts that branch off from the main adit…
…but all of them dead end at some point.
Fools gold shimmers deep within the mine.
This is the only timbered stabilizer within Tunnel #4.
Most of the water found inside is generated from springs located within the mine.
Cave Pearls vs Hard Rock
After spending 30 minutes inside tunnel #4…
…it was time to go back out into the light and make my way to work. On the hike back to my car, I passed through a section of the trail with sage growing on both sides of the path. Thank you Las Flores Canyon for the perfect ending to an incredible morning.