The Meaning of Hahamongna

The original settlers of the region were sometimes called the Hahamongna Indians. The word means "Flowing Waters, Fruitful Valley" in the native Tongva language.

Hahamongna News


Steve Scauzillo: Oh, the places you'll go for shade





Steve Scauzillo


Whittier Daily News


On extremely hot weekends like this one, when the sun is more of a tormentor than a caresser, we head indoors in search of air conditioning or a fan.
But it can be a perfect time to catch a cool breeze in the late afternoon or evening that will serve to tickle the hairs on your sweaty neck.

Some of the best places to find shade and still see nature in the San Gabriel Valley are those out-of-the-way hidden gems. A few of my favorite places come to mind:

Lario San Gabriel River Trail Park, 15701 Foothill Blvd., Azusa 91702. Sandwiched between the Vulcan mining plant and Encanto Park in Duarte is a lovely little park on the east bank of the San Gabriel River. A perfect place to bring a brown bag lunch and on a hot day, wait for the wind out of the canyon to literally bathe you in comfort. It never disappoints, no matter what the mercury level.

I'll bring a lunch or ride up in my car - bike in the hitch - and hop on the San Gabriel River trail. You can go north into the canyon or south across the boulevard, under the 210 Freeway, and its only a short ride into the alluvial fan sage scrub habitat of Santa Fe Dam. (The best time for a floral display is February through early June).

Or just sit at one of several picnic tables at this little park and watch the bike riders go by, or stop and say "hi" as they stop for a breather at the park. The view is expansive - the canyon walls towering over both sides of the river - pulling your thoughts


up and over as well. Just remember to blot out the damage to the mountain done by the mining operations with one hand.
Peck Road Water Conservation Park, 5401 N. Peck Road, Arcadia 91006. The place is hard to find but once you do, you'll be amazed at the expansive twin lakes complete with ducks, cormorants and sometimes a visiting great blue heron. A great place to eat lunch or bring a picnic dinner. Improvements by the county of Los Angeles and Amigos de los Rios include new trees, bioswales and picnic tables. Also, there is ample shade if you want to get out of the sun but still feel and see nature all around you. It's a great place to bring a bike, since it is where the Rio Hondo Bikeway begins.

Rio Vista Park, 4275 Ranger Ave., El Monte 91732. I went here a few weeks ago on a very hot Saturday. The wildflowers were colorful, in both pinks and reds. The historical markers tell of the immigrant settlers who once set up "camp" here and in the adjacent Rio Hondo riverbed. Also, you can find shade in a wickiup structure, on a bench or on the playground. It's a great place to sit and watch the planes take off and land at El Monte Airport across the river.

Cascades Park, 700 South Atlantic Blvd., Monterey Park 91754. I want to thank my college buddy, Frank, who grew up near here, for introducing me to this Monterey Park landmark. If you haven't been, punch this address into your phone or GPS and go. The 2-acre green space is basically two lawns bisected by a cascading water treatment. You can't get much more soothing on a hot day (unless you jumped in).

Hahamongna Watershed Park, Oak Grove Drive and Foothill Boulevard, Pasadena This 1,300-acre green space is more than picnic grounds and a disc golf course. It's acres of scrub and trees, calling birds and even frogs. But it's being threatened by a sediment-removal project. So here's to a delicate removal of silt and a wholly functioning Devil's Gate Dam. And a place that you can hang out to avoid the heat but not Mother Nature.

I read a story about two visitors to Joshua Tree National Park who died of exposure to extreme heat. The ranger said people become so air conditioned, that when they step out of their cars or homes their bodies are shocked. It's not a good way to go. So if you do go out, don't try to conquer Mt. Wilson or run the 10K. But it's a good idea to keep our bodies accustomed to the environment. And these places can help us stay grounded.

Steve Scauzillo covers the environment and the communities along the Puente Hills. He's also the current recipient of the Aldo Leopold Award for Distinguished Editorial Writing from The Wilderness Society.

Read more: Steve Scauzillo: Oh, the places you'll go for shade - Whittier Daily News