For a list of Trails check your local book store or library
for the book, 'Trails of the Angeles, 100
Hikes in the San Gabriel Mountains', by John W. Robinson.
The Big Tujunga Creek
The Big Tujunga offers fishing,
camping, hunting, target shooting,
hiking, mountain biking, off- roading, and plain old fashioned Sunday driving.
To get to The Big Tujunga, you take the 210 freeway to the community of Sunland.
Take the Sunland Blvd off ramp and go north. About a mile or so, you get to
Oro Vista. There's a fast food joint and a 7-11 at this intersection.
Go left. If you've forgotten anything, you might want to get it here.
The only place to buy essentials up the
mountain is Hidden Springs Cafe and General Store. From the 210, (where you
turned onto Sunland Blvd) it's 18 miles to the cafe and general store. It's
a super little place and it's owned and run by the Lewis family. You can pick
up a Wilderness Pass there along with a great bowl of chili.
They have the basics: ice, beer, soda,
canned goods, and some other stuff you might need around the campsite. A lot
of local history is told in this classic little place.
Follow Oro Vista Road, and it will become
(run into) The Big Tujunga Canyon Road. Follow this road and you'll run along
side the Big Tujunga Creek. The creek starts on the left side of the road
and changes sides numerous times the farther up you travel. There are lots
of places to stop and picnic or fish or whatever.
The Little Tujunga is included on the
map. In the Little Tujunga you'll find The Wildlife Waystation. The
Waystation saves animals and reintroduces them to the wild and it's definitely a
great place to take the kids. Every now and then they need volunteers.
For more info on the Waystation please call (818) 899-5201
Remember, be safe and please do
not leave your trash in the mountains
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Big Santa Anita Creek
This is a great place
to visit if youíd like a look into the past. There are cabins located along Big
Santa Anita Creek that go back over a hundred years. Fishing, hiking, camping, and
even a quickie picnic are what this canyon is all about.
How You Get There
This canyon is located
above the community of Arcadia. For reference, Arcadia is found about halfway between
the communities of Pasadena and Azusa off of Highway 210.
∑ From Highway 210
∑ Take the Santa Anita
exit off Highway 210 and go North.
∑ Follow Santa Anita
Avenue six or seven miles up the mountain to the end of the road is Chantry Flats.
Here youíll find plenty of parking, restrooms, and picnic areas with barbeque grills.
The Chantry Flats Ranger Station is located here also as well as Lonerganís Pack
About Lonerganís Pack Station
Thatís right, a pack
station just like the old days. They have ice cream, sodas, and a small assortment
of "stuff" like youíd find at any out of the way mountain type pack station. There
are also mules that will carry your supplies for a price. The mules are often used
to deliver supplies to some of the privately-cabins in the canyon beyond Chantry
∑ From here on out,
itís hiking or biking.
∑ As you start to journey
away from Chantry Flats, youíll drop down from the parking area on to a fire road.
Follow this road.
∑ There are a couple
of ways to get down to the creek from this road. The way I like to go is on First
Water Trail. Itís a small trail that youíll see on the right of the fire road. It
has a lot of cutbacks and is a pretty hike down to the water. (If you have a map
of the area, youíll see the trails.)
∑ Youíll be on First
Water Trail a good 20 minutes before you reach the water. When you reach the creek,
youíll begin seeing some of the privately-owned cabins. These cabins are historic.
No more can be built. In fact, the existing cabins can only be repaired but not
altered. These cabins are owned by regular folks who hope you respect their privacy.
∑ A trail makes its
way upstream and leads to Sturtevant Falls. These falls are approximately sixty-feet
high and are only about two miles up the trail or an hours hike from Chantry Flats.
The falls are named after William M. Sturtevant. He was an early pioneer in the
canyon and built a beautiful resort that even had a tennis court for his guests.
Sturtevant Resort Was The Place To Play
At one time it was "the place" for people like Zane Gray, Humphry Bogart and other
notables to get away for the weekend and fish, hunt, or whatever tickled their giggle.
Unfortunately, the resort was washed away by the flood of 1938. But the area is
still known as the one time famous playground for many Hollywood legends.
The fish at Sturtevant Falls here are
small rainbows and are plentiful because most of the folks that fish these small
California streams practice catch and release. I hope you do, too. Fish are more
fun when you can catch them more than once.
All In All
The Big Santa Anita Canyon is a real forestÖlike the kind youíd expect
in a Disney film. Big trees, a creek, waterfalls and animals. In fact, donít forget.
The wildlife here is wild, so donít feed or pet the bears.
safety. Stick to the trails. Donít hike alone. And take care of the forest.
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Probably the only place
in the world you can enjoy catching and releasing a beautiful little native rainbow
and glance up and see a giant Condor. Yep, thereís still a few up in the mountains
and canyons in and around Sespe Creek.
The Sespe Creek is
located up above the absolutely beautiful community of Ojai. Itís definitely worth
the drive up to just take a look even if you donít fish.
If youíre into golf,
bring your clubs and try the course at the Ojai Valley Inn. Itís the same course
that hosts some of the seniors tour events and when youíve been sitting in your
living room watching those legends whack whitey around and thinking, "Wow, whereís
that?" Well, now you know.
How You Get There from LA
∑ Take Highway 101
north (or west) to Ventura
∑ Take Highway 33 east
∑ As you come to the
community of Ojai, thereíll be a fork in the road. On the left is Highway 33; the
right or straight goes into Ojai
∑ If you continue straight,
the Ojai Valley Inn is only a minute or so from this intersection. The Innís Oak
Cafť, overlooking the golf course, is a neat place to grab a cup of coffee and a
∑ At this intersection,
youíll notice a strip mall to your left. If you need anything, get it now. Thereís
not much of anything up the road where youíre headed.
∑ Follow the fork in
the road left (Highway 33) north and continue about fourteen miles to the Rose Valley
∑ On the way, youíll
pass a couple of neat little bars, some campgrounds, and the Wheeler Hot Springs.
∑ If you stop, Iíd
recommend staying away from the squirrels. Though it may be okay now, in the past,
the squirrels have been found to carry a plague which can be transmitted via their
∑ When you get to Rose
Valley Road, make a right (east) and go approximately seven miles to Lions Campground.
Here, youíll see a
couple of fishing ponds off to the left and camp grounds to your right. If you turn
into the campgrounds and go to the end of the road, youíll find a foot path that
follows the creek for about twelve miles. You might even come across some hot springs
and want to stop and do a little natural hot tubbing.
To Reach the Upper Sespe
∑ Instead of stopping
at Lions Campground, you could continue on Rose Valley Road. Youíll pass a shooting
range off to your left and a little further up (and down) youíll come to Beaver
Fly Tying Anyone?
Thereís an organization
called the Sespe Flyfishers, and theyíve done some great things to help the Sespe
and make it a good place to fish. Every now and then they have world famous flytyers
and fly casters visit to share their expertise. If you have an interest in the club
and would like to know more about it, give Wayne a call at Malibu Fish and Tackle
in Thousand Oaks. (805- 496-7332.)
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Bouquet Canyon Creek
Bouquet Canyon Creek
is a busy little canyon above Six Flags Magic Mountain and the community of Santa
Clarita. Iíve been told they stock the creek with Rainbows every other week starting
in April and continue through till September. Once you get up to the creek, youíll
find thereís easy access to it along the road.
How You Get There
∑ Take Highway 5 to
Six Flags Magic Mountain
∑ Go right (East) on
Magic Mountain Road
∑ Continue about two
∑ Take a left (go North)
on Bouquet Canyon Road
∑ Follow Bouquet Canyon
Road about ten miles until you get to the creek
∑ Continue on this
road (which runs next to the creek) for approximately ten more miles up to the Bouquet
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The San Gabriel River
The San Gabriel River is located in the San Gabriel Mountains
above the town of Azusa. The river has east, west, and north forks. All are scenic
and teeming with wildlife.
If you look on the
community map, youíll see Azusa is northeast of Los Angeles. It lies in the foothills
off the 210 Freeway between Pasadena and Glendora.
How You Get There
From Highway 210
- Take Highway 39 (i.e.,
the Azusa off ramp)
Go north on Highway
(Highway 39 northbound
is two lanes one way. Where the one way portion of the road ends, there's a convenience
store and a fast food restaurant on your left. Iíd tell you their names, but theyíve
changed so many times since Iíve been going up there I donít want to confuse you.
This is the intersection of Sierra Madre Avenue and 39 North. Itís a good place
to stop, if thereís anything youíve forgotten.
- Continue 3/4 of a
mile on Highway 39 North
- Stop at the forest
service parking permit station and get your permit
When you get your parking
permit, grab any maps they may have, too. If no one is at this station, you can
get a parking permit at either Camp Follows or Camp William's.
- From here it's uphill
all the way
Be Very Careful on this Road
The shoulders off this road quickly become cliffs and are very
steep. If youíre driving too fast and an animal or mountain biker gets in youíre
way, it can be very dangerous. Many times I've had to stop because a coyote with
an attitude was standing in the middle of the road and didn't feel like moving.
There are plenty of
pullouts for sight seeing and parking. If another car follows you too close, use
these pullouts to let it pass. Itís not only the polite thing to do itís the safe
thing to do. This way you can take your time and enjoy the scenic ride.
- As you make your
way up the mountain, the first body of water you see on your right is Morris Reservoir.
- The next body of
water is the San Gabriel Reservoir. If it's full, it's worth stopping to see the
water coming over the dam.
- As you get to the
north end of San Gabriel Reservoir, you'll be able to see where the west and east
forks of the river flow into the reservoir. If the water level is down, this is
a great place to go four-wheeling.
- Youíre now about
eleven miles from where you turned off the 210 onto Highway 39. You should be at
the bridge that begins East Fork Road.
- To go to the East
Fork, turn right here.
- To go to the West
Fork, continue on. Youíll find the trail that runs along the West Fork a short
ways up on the left.
- First letís cover
what youíll find in the East Fork.
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The East Fork of the San Gabriel
- As you continue on
East Fork Road, youíll cross a bridge, and make your way along the East Fork of
Pull Over and Fish
I like the East Fork because as you travel along, you can pull
over any time youíd like and fish the river. Small rainbows are abundant in the
six to eight*-inch size with the trophy being a twelve-incher. You can call the
Fish and Game Department to check on the last plant. Their phone number is 562-590-5020.
PERMIT ALERT If You Stop Ö Even Just to Look!
If you plan on stopping
and parking your car along the road , you'll need a Wilderness Pass or parking permit.
They only cost a few dollars, and it all goes to the upkeep of our great outdoors.
I buy mine at Big Five but Iím pretty sure you can buy the at most sporting goods
stores. In a pinch you can probably get one at a local establishment in the mountains.
If you start spending
much time in the mountains, you might want to purchase a yearly permit. It costs
about thirty dollars and is good for not only the San Gabriel National Forest, but also for National Parks
and Forests in the Los Padre National Forest, San Bernadino National Forest, and
the Cleveland National Forest in the San Diego area.
- I should have mentioned
earlier that I have always stayed on the road that hugs the river. Any left or right
off of East Fork Road is for you to explore on your own. So enjoy. If you find something
fun, let me know.
- About a mile after
the bridge on your left is the entrance to the Burro Canyon shooting range. This is a safe place to take
your rifles, pistols, and shotguns if you want to do any plinking.
- A little ways past
the shooting range on the right is Fire Camp #19. The fire camp is off limits to
the public unless youíre reporting a fire.
- Continuing on another
six tenths of a mile, youíll arrive at Follows Camp. A remnant of those glorious
days of gold mining. You can still pan for gold here.
Fun at Follows Camp
I've tried my hand at panning and sluicing and had gold flake
and garnets appear in the bottom of my pan. It was a lot of fun but really hard
work. A great thing to turn the young kids onto. History and fun all together.
If youíre really lucky,
you might turn up a good-sized nugget or two. Follows Camp has everything you need to get you started
and, if you get serious, you can load up on gold mining supplies at Keene Engineering
in Chatsworth on Bahama Street. Keene Engineering's phone number is 818-993-0411.
They have everything anyone would ever need to pan or mine for gold.
The fishing at Follows
Camp is pretty good and the Fish and Game Department stocks here on a regular basis.
They have approximately 200 campsites and, last time I checked, it was eighteen
dollars a night per campsite. They also have a restaurant there and serve a wide
variety of dishes. Follows Camp includes a camp store in case you've forgotten something.
They sell parking permits here, too. Camp Follows phone number is 626-910-1100
Again, any pullout
that youíd like to stop at and fish or pan, feel free to do so. Exploring is the fun part.
- Continuing up the
road a little over a mile from Follows Camp is Camp William's. The camp is on your
left; there's mobile home park on your right.
- Just before you enter
the camp, there'll be a restaurant with plenty of parking. You can't miss it. It
has a large sign that says "Camp William's Cafe and General Store."
Camp Williamís Cafť and General Store
"This is a neat little place to have a cup of coffee or a cold
sandwich. The property supervisors are Mark and Jeannie Yelton. If you'd like to
call ahead their phone number is 626-910-1126. You may purchase parking permits
More About Camp Williams
If you want to stay at Camp Williams, you'll need to talk
to Jeannie Yelton. She runs the campsites up there and tells me there are
now about fifty campsites, and the campground, cafe and facilities have recently
been totally redone. If you'd like to call and check on the availability of
a campsite or to check on stocking days the phone number is 626-910-1126.
I prefer nature and
solitude, so after stopping in for a cup of coffee, a parking pass and a little
chat about the things that have happened since my last visit, I move on up the river.
- Up river, about a
half a mile from Camp Williams, is an old wooden bridge. The bridge crosses
Cattle Creek (some call it Cow Creek). Where Cattle Creek flows into the East Fork
is a great place to pan or fish. After heavy rains, you'll see lots of panners down
in the river. It's a pretty cool sight. There is a good fishing hole here,
and, every now and then, someone pulls out a pretty nice fish.
- After you pass the old bridge, it's another half a mile or so to the end
of the road.
- As you arrive at
the parking area, you'll see a sign that tells you youíre at the Wilderness Fire
Station (ranger station). The station is up on the right. This also begins the Sheep
Mountain Wilderness Area. You can usually catch a ranger on duty. Hopefully, youíll
be able to pick up a map of the area at the station. People, who are backpacking
into the wilderness area, will usually park here overnight.
To Park or Not To Park
I personally have never had anything bad happen to a vehicle of
mine or my friends when parking here overnight. But that's your call. For an easy
backpacking trip, you can park here and take the fire road that continues on into
the mountains. This is a great place to start a child into backpacking.
ó Okay. Letís assume
youíre parked and youíre geared up. Where do you go?
Beginners and the Young
There is a perfect campsite about a half a mile up the road. It's
a stand of evergreens, and the area is flat with relatively no stones to dig into
your back while you sleep. It's just far enough for a child to think they've conquered
something great and not be to sore or tired to make them dislike it. A perfect way
to begin a lifetime of enjoying the outdoors with incredible stars and a beautiful
little stand of trees by the river known as Heaton Flats.
Who Was Heaton?
Heaton was a miner in the eighteen hundreds and was known to have
settled here and panned for gold. He and his place were washed away in the flood
of 1862. Itís a lesson in history to experience the area.
For the Advanced and More Adventurous
Up into the narrows, a few miles from the ranger station and parking
area is a the Bridge from Nowhere. My friend Mike and I have hiked there and camped
overnight. Itís a pretty impressive bridge that seems to hang above the river and
doesn't seem to be coming from or going to anywhere. Hence the name.
Itís a pretty tough
hike especially in hot weather. Be sure and carry lots of water.* The fishing is
good up here. I've caught a fourteen*-incher in the narrows and in these waters
that's a true trophy.
When youíre up in this
neck of the woods, you might see some of the mines that have been dug into the mountains.
If you decide to explore them be very careful. I've entered a few of them
but being somewhat claustrophobic as soon as I couldnít see the light from the end
of the* tunnel, I stopped.
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The West Fork
Letís back up for a minute. If you had choosen not to turn
on to East Fork Road off of Highway 39, then you would continue on to the West Fork
of the San Gabriel. The West Fork has wonderful camping sites, great fishing, and
waterfalls. Hereís how to find these great spots.
- Continue straight
up the road to the West Fork.
- A short ways up on
your right, youíll see the entrance to the off-roading and four-wheeling area. Parking
permits can also be purchased here. Remember youíll need one to park anywhere in the San
Gabriel National Forest.
- About a quarter mile
or so on the left side of the road is a large pullout for parking. Park here if
youíre ready to hike. The hiking on the West Fork can be strenuous, so carry lots
- From the parking
area, walk north a ways until you come to a fire road with a locked gate (cable).
The road drops down to the river below the south side of the bridge that allows
the west fork to flow under Highway 39.
- This fire road follows
the West Fork for approximately eight miles west to Cogswell Dam and reservoir.
Fish, Trees, Shade
Ö Now, Hereís a Good Spot to Camp
The fishing here is really good. If you have a mountain bike,
it's the easiest way to fish the entire West Fork. The camping is also good here
largely due to the trees providing shade and cooling things down a bit in the summer.
But remember ó this is bear country and there have been attacks..
- When you get within
a mile or so of the Cogswell Dam, you'll find a few picnic tables and campsite stoves.
Another Good Spot
It's a nice place to spend the night. The fish and game folks
stock this part of the river every now and then so you might want to give them a
call and see when their scheduled plants are.
Donít forget to take
a map of the area so youíll know on which of the trails off the fire road, youíll
find water falls. The falls up above Glen Trail Camp in Glen Canyon are beautiful.
Theyíre a short hike from the campsite and are worth seeing.
Okay, youíve parked, hiked, fished and maybe even spent the night. Youíre
ready to continue your drive up Highway 39.
- Continuing on up
Highway 39, you'll see the waters of the North Fork of the San Gabriel River as
it flows along the side the road.
- Highway 39 takes
you all the way to Angeles Crest Highway (Highway 2) and, if even if you do nothing else, this is a beautiful drive.
Crystal Lake is up this way also and is known for its fishing and camping.
All In All
What I have shared
with you so far only scratches the surface of what the San Gabriel Mountains have
to offer. These wonderful places within the East, West and North Forks are all within
one to two hours of Los Angeles, Hollywood and the surrounding area. Theyíre beautiful
and can create memories to last forever. Enjoy.
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Piru Creek is one of
my favorite places to fish. The rainbows are pretty aggressive and itís close to
my home. I can be on the water catching fish within an hour of my front door.
My favorite spot at
Piru Creek is about a mile or so above Frenchmanís Flat. Iíve had some great times
at Piru in the mornings just before the sun-up.
Usually Iím the only
one on the creek and the wildlife hasnít been scared away yet so I get to see deer,
coyotes, and the occasional Bobcat. I love to watch how animals react to each other.
How You Get There
Piru Creek is located
North of LA, off of Highway 5, about 13 miles north of Six Flags Magic Mountain
and about seven miles north of Castaic. A good reference point is Magic Mountain.
∑ From Highway 5
∑ Take of the Templin
Highway exit. (Approximately 13 miles after you pass Magic Mountain Six Flags and
the community of Santa Clarita.)
∑ Templin Highway is
the old Highway 99 North and it parallels Highway 5 for about five miles up (and
down) to Frenchmanís Flat.
Donít be surprised
if you see a film crew or two shooting a movie, TV show, or commercial. Some great
scenes have been shot up here including the scene in "Breakdown" where the conclusion
takes place. The scene at the bridge where the truck is wrecked and crashes down
on the bad guy and squishes him. That is one of my best fishing spots. There should
have been a disclaimer saying "no trout were injured or killed during the filming
of this movie." (just kidding)
∑ At Frenchmanís Flat,
youíll find parking. From here on, itís all on foot.
∑ You can either drop
down west to the creek and fish or follow the road north along the river and pick
a fishing spot further up.
∑ Youíll want to check
the current regulations with the Fish and Game Department.
The fishing here is
good and, if you really want to go for it, take a couple of days and do an overnighter.
You can camp and then and head downstream to Lake Piru. The pickup spot would be
Blue Point at the north end of Lake Piru. If you do this little backpacking trip
remember to tell someone where you are going and when to expect you back.
All in All
The area of Piru Creek
at Frenchmans Flat is great. Iíve seen all kinds of animals here, too. Though Iím
still a little bias to the beauty of the North Carolina and Virginia hills where
I grew up, Iíve seen a lot more wildlife in Southern California than back home.
I think thatís because of the lack of trees and foliage here. I carry a small pair
of binoculars in my vest and have seen wildlife I could not have seen without them.
They also allow me to see fish in the stream below when Iím on the higher trails
A Rambling Tale
Once while standing
in the Piru creek, I heard a loud noise and looked up to see two coyotes
attacking or trying to get what I think was a small mule deer. The coyotes had the
deer backed up to the creek and were spread to either side with their tails and
heads angled down in a stalking position. The deer had kind of frozen with her head
cocked to an angle and was trying to keep an eye on both coyotes.
The coyotes were doing
a yipping noise and were moving a couple of steps side to side when all of a sudden
the little deer turned and jumped into and out the other side of the creek. She
was gone in the blink of an eye. She was so small that when she was moving through
the water it was up to her chest.
The coyotes both gave
chase with one pulling up short of the water and the other barreling into it. The
one that hit the water freaked and jumped back out as fast as heíd gone in. When
he got back on dry land, he immediately shook to get the water off and the other
one whimpered around him like he was checking to see if he was OK. Then as I watched
they both slinked away. If they ever saw me, they didnít act like it.
Ya'll Come Back
Now Ya Hear
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