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The Big Tujunga Creek  

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Big Santa Anita Creek 

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Sespe Creek   

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Bouquet Canyon Creek  

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The San Gabriel River

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East Fork of San Gabriel  

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West Fork of the San Gabriel

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Piru Creek

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,tujungamap.jpeg 
(29289 bytes) 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.

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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 Station.

 

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 Flats.

∑ 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.

Think safety. Stick to the trails. Donít hike alone. And take care of the forest.

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Sespe Creek

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.

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∑ Take Highway 101 north (or west) to Ventura

∑ Take Highway 33 east towards Ojai

∑ 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 muffin.

∑ 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 Rd.

∑ 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 fleas.

∑ 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 campground.

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.

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∑ Take Highway 5 to Six Flags Magic Mountain

∑ Go right (East) on Magic Mountain Road

∑ Continue about two miles.

∑ 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 Reservoir.

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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.

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From Highway 210

- Take Highway 39 (i.e., the Azusa off ramp)

Go north on Highway 39

(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 the river.

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 beer and
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 here also.

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 oldbridgecu.jpeg (86522
 bytes) 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 of water

- 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

(Frenchmanís Flat)

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.

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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.

Hollywood Alert

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.

Good Fishing

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 above.

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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