Big Santa Anita Canyon Gabrielino National Recreation Trail

Mount Wilson, California 91023

Big Santa Anita Canyon Gabrielino National Recreation Trail

Big Santa Anita Canyon: Gabrielino National Recreation Trail Professional Review and Guide

"Cascades, a waterfall and giant woodwardia ferns are a few of the many delights of historic Big Santa Anita Canyon. The bucolic canyon has been popular with Southern California hikers for a hundred years. William Sturtevant, known to his friends as “Sturde,” pioneered many miles of San Gabriel Mountains trails. He traveled from California to Colorado in the early 1880s with forty burros. A packer par excellence, he soon found his services to be in great demand in the San Gabriels. Sturtevant hewed out a trail over the ridge from Winter Creek to the top of the canyon and in 1898 opened Sturtevant Camp. The rustic resort consisted of a dining hall, tents, and a store and was a popular trail resort well into the 1930s. In Santa Anita Canyon today some eighty-odd cabins are serviced by a burro train from Chantry Flats, named for another early packer, Charlie Chantry. One of the more colorful sights in the local mountains—and a look backward into a bygone era—is a glimpse at the pack animals plodding up the trail to Sturtevant Camp, now a Methodist Church retreat."

More Big Santa Anita Canyon: Gabrielino National Recreation Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"In the lush and shady recesses of the Front Range of the San Gabriel Mountains you can easily lose all sight and sense of the hundreds of square miles of dense metropolis, and the millions of Angelenos, that lie just over the ridge to the south.

With easy access from the San Gabriel Valley by city street and mountain road, you can be laying bootprints down a fern-lined path less than half an hour after leaving the freeway traffic behind."

"In the lush and shady recesses of the Front Range of the San Gabriel Mountains you can easily lose all sight and sense of the hundreds of square miles of dense metropolis, and the millions of Angelenos, that lie just over the ridge to the south. With easy access from the San Gabriel Valley by city street and mountain road, you can be laying bootprints down a fern-lined path less than half an hour after leaving the freeway traffic behind."

Big Santa Anita Canyon: Gabrielino National Recreation Trail Reviews

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6/2/2018
A beautiful hike, especially in the cooler months, but there is still a nice amount of shade and relief from the sun if you want to attempt it in the summer. I've done this trail several times. It's always awesome to find a sanctuary of nature so close to Los Angeles. The hike is strenuous if you do it all in one day, but worth it. In June the flower display is great and the poison oak is growing all over, so take care when seeking shady spots.
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2/4/2013
Great trail and views, weather perfect during this time of year mid 40's at night to high 60's during the day. Only met day hikers no over nighters at both campsites so had the whole place to myself. Easy going as the majority of the trail is shaded and at this time of the year stays nice and cool. Plenty of water (treat before drinking) along the way so never ran dry. In all, a great trip and highly recommended if your in the area.
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6/30/2012
Long, Hard Hike, But Worth It. It Took Our Group Much, Much Longer to Complete the Loop. 8 Hours! No Time to Relax. No Time for Putting Our Feet in the Water. No Time to Stop at the Falls! Enjoyed the Workout but.... Too Much for Some of the Less Experienced People in My Group. Next Time We Will Go Up to Spruce Grove and Back at Max. I Want to Stay at Camp Sturtevant Overnight, Then Continue the Loop the Next Day. It Would Be Much More Enjoyable and We Would be Supporting the Last Camp Left. Camp Sturtevant is Hurting Real Bad for Funds to Stay Open. It May Very Well Be Closed in the Near Future.
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7/29/2011
Awesome hike. We did this 8 mile loop yesterday and it was beautiful. Took us about 4 hrs at a leisurely pace. Quick note on the trail stats posted here: the elevation gain is not 4000 ft, it's more like 2000. It was 85 degrees in Arcadia, but the trail was mostly covered and we were very comfortable. Just enough exposure to catch some beautiful views and a little sun. Lots of creek crossings with a gorgeous waterfall and swimming hole. The summit of Mt Zion is just a couple hundred feet off the trail, so don't skip the detour. The hike-in campgrounds along the way were terrific. Spruce Grove was empty when we passed around 4pm on a Friday. Hoegees was filling up with young backpackers and families -- but far more peaceful than even the quietest drive-in campground. We'll be back for an overnight trip for sure. Grab a free basic trail map at the general store at Chantry Flats and look out for critters: although we didn't see any, this is rattlesnake, mountain lion and bear country. Highly recommended!
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2/21/2011
We were lucky to get out on the trail early on Monday of President's Day weekend. We started hiking just after 8:00 AM in 40 F air, but it was worth it because by the time we wrapped up around noon there were no spots anywhere to park. It's a great trail with ample shade in the morning and if you do the loop counter-clockwise (as the guide recommends), the most of your climbs are in shade. Snow on the ground for most of it after some weekend weather, but nothing that really slowed us down. The huts along the way are unique and interesting and the river was flowing steady in mid-February. I recommend it, but watch out for the crowds, especially near the waterfalls.
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5/29/2010
I just went with a friend and two dogs. The trail was BEAUTIFUL! There was plenty of water flow and tons of shade (except at the highest point). The trail was very obvious even with quite a few stream crossings. We camped 2 nights over a holiday weekend (05-29, 30, 31-2010). We were told that there were more than likely not going to be spots available for us, but there were. There's an overflow section at spruce grove campsite just before or just after the campsite depending on the direction you're coming from. If you’re day hiking or even camping make sure you have your adventure pass and fire permit. You can get a fire permit and adventure pass at Chantry flats. I actually got my fire permit at the Arcadia Angeles Forest office, however I would have gotten it at Chantry flats if I had known I could get it there. Make sure you bring your own toilet paper. The ranger informed us that he takes all rolls left in the out houses so that the area is less likely to get thrashed with trash.
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5/31/2009
I give this one five stars for scenery. Got to Chantry Flatts at 7am and the parkinglot was already full, so get there early. We took the Upper Winter Creek Trail, making the loop in a clockwise fashion. The trails are well maintained and well dug in, and as for the scenery...Incredible, you feel as if you have entered another world! the morning we went, the fog was dense, adding to the effect of being far from home. There were more hikers, trailrunners, and bikers than i generally care for but the sight quickly excuse that factor. Near the end of the hike you come to the junction for Sturevant Falls. This is where you see the most traffic. An easy mile and a half hike and the outcome is worth it. The falls drop into a pool large enough to wade in on a hot day, with plenty of room around for to rest and have a snack. You'll need the energy for the steep half mile trip back to Chantry. This si the hardest part of the hike. Very strenuous! Bring plenty of water, a camera, and Enjoy! Oh, alittle ways before the Sturtevant Falls junction you will come across a shallow, 20ft deep cave off to your right. Climb inside, it'll make for some fun pics!
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9/7/2008
We just got back from taking the Upper Winter Creek Trail portion of the Big Santa Anita Loop and it was just shy of spectacular. The ups and downs, turns and straights can only be described as a small roller coaster winding around the side of a mountain. Starting from the main parking lot and making our way to Hoegees Camp was a perfect morning hike for us as we’re still working up to longer, more challenging trips. Our original plan was to try for Mt. Zion but the three miles to Hoegees and back proved enough for us on this hot summer day. There is 75% tree cover along the trail as it gives you portions exposed in the sun -- allowing you to take in views of the other mountain ranges -- and also portions secluded in the forest -- giving you an intimate taste of the lush trees and smaller creeks. We came upon two spots (both around small water sources) that were dancing with butterflies. There were dozens fluttering about and my girlfriend was quick to hop in and play with them. The larger water sources are going to be on the other side of the loop, but these small creeks had their own character. We did stumble upon a gopher snake sunning itself on the path before we disturbed him. The picnic areas at the trailhead (right along with the parking) and the Hoegees Camp are extremely well kept -- very clean and little signs of graffiti or too much wear and tear. We passed hikers of varying experience levels and gear, along with overnight campers, kids, elderly, dogs, and a few shirtless men. We also came in contact with three different park rangers along our short walk which is very encouraging as to how much attention this area gets -- very safe feeling. On our way out of the national forest we came upon two deer grazing just before the residential area began. Definitely one of our new favorite hikes… I cannot wait to see what the rest of the Big Santa Anita Loop yields along with the Lower Winter Creek Trail.
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8/17/2008
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7/30/2008
My group did this July 26-27, expecting extraordinary heat and no water in the river. The weather turned out to be perfect, and there was enough water to completely submerge in a couple shallow pools. The environment is a great combination of chaparral and forest. The hike is a SUPER narrow descent into a canyon (never backpacked anything quite like this 1foot-across switchback trail. The campsite in the canyon is wide and open, with a couple of trees for shade. Hiking further down the empty (in late july) river bed becomes a fun and hairy rock hop adventure searching for rock markers set up by previous kind hikers. We never made it to the falls (it was getting late), but the hike was a blast. DO NOT FORGET BUG SPRAY. we got chewed alive. and keep a wary eye for poison oak. There is a ton. These two factors should not dissuade you from the hike. Bring bug spray, make a fire at the campsite pit (smoke keeps skeeters away), and know your poison oak. Definitely plan to do this trail again.
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Big Santa Anita Canyon: Gabrielino National Recreation Trail Photos

Trail Information

Mount Wilson
Nearby City
8
Distance
4,000 feet
Elevation Gain
Several options
Trail Type
Moderate to Difficult
Skill Level

Activity Feed

Sep 2018