Arroyos & Foothills Conservancy (AFC) has signed an option agreement to acquire 21 acres of open space land in the Altadena foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. Paired with an adjacent 20 acres that the conservancy bought in November 2009, the purchase would complete the preservation of the entire mouth of historic Rubio Canyon, a top priority for the organization. The area is a popular hiking destination for Pasadena natives and other locals.

The conservancy’s board of directors approved the agreement to buy the land from property owner Sameer Etman at its July 11 meeting. The conservancy is now working to secure the funds necessary to acquire the property, applying for government grants and requesting donations from conservation-minded members of the local community.

“We are hoping a few generous people see this as a chance to make a difference,” said Nancy Steele, president of AFC. “If you’ve visited Rubio Canyon, you know it’s an area of tremendous beauty and historical significance.”

In part, the conservancy wants to buy the land in order to prevent development from creeping into the foothills. Mr. Etman, the property owner, has put the brakes on pending plans to build several single-family homes on a portion of the property, opting instead to offer it to the conservancy. The conservancy has until Sept. 30 to purchase the portion of the property slated for development at a discounted price.

About the property

The property could be used to close a wide gap in the Altadena Crest Trail, a well-used but fragmented trail system in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. While hikers are currently diverted onto the shoulder of a paved road where the trail enters Rubio Canyon, the Conservancy plans to develop a trail so people can enjoy a continuous trail from Eaton Canyon to the Lake Avenue trailhead, at the Cobb estate.

The site also provides a new access point to the canyon from Loma Alta Drive, leading hikers to the Rubio Pavilion and Rubio Incline — historic sites along the former Mt. Lowe railroad — and to waterfalls in the canyon. Trails on the site also connect with trails in the Angeles National Forest.