San Gabriel Mountains Hikes

The map and table included below contain all the San Gabriel Mountains hikes covered on this site.

The tall mountains to the north of Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley that are dramatically shrouded in snow after winter storms are the wondrous San Gabriel Mountains. This is a large and diverse mountain range, much more so than most realize, and its treasures exist close to home, waiting to be explored. The range runs almost 70 miles, starting from the east at the Cajon Pass – through which runs the 15 freeway – and from there all the way to its western boundary at the 5 freeway and Newhall Pass. From north to south it’s up to 25 miles across at points, thus covering an area of almost 1000 square miles.

San Gabriel Mountains IMG_0696

Because of its large size and tall summits – over 10,000′ – the range offers tremendous diversity, encompassing granite peaks with stunning views, lush alpine forests of pine and cedar, lovely stream fed canyons lined with old growth oaks, and spectacular gorges where pure mountain streams cascade over magnificent waterfalls. Almost the entire San Gabriel Mountains are contained in the Angeles National Forest, but oddly a portion of the eastern end of the range is actually in the San Bernardino National Forest. On October 10, 2014, President Obama designated a large portion of the range as the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, which provides further federal protection for this magnificent area.

These mountains have a close historical connection with the Los Angeles area, and many of the older communities are in the foothills of this range, situated at the mouths of canyons that provide year round water. Prior to the construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct cities had to rely on water from streams originating high in the San Gabriel Mountains, and to a lesser extent from wells. As this range is so tall and large, it receives much more precipitation at higher elevations than the remainder of the Los Angeles basin. This comes primarily in the form of extensive snow packs in the winter months, and also at times from torrential summer thunderstorms.

The fact that this range contains dozens of year-round streams is not well-known. Thus in the summer and fall when streams in the lesser ranges like the Santa Monica Mountains or the Santa Ana Mountains run dry, the San Gabriel Mountains enjoy a number of areas that always have flowing water. Another little known fact about this amazing range is that as a consequence of the relatively abundant water, and because this is such a geologically young and thus steep mountain range, it contains numerous deep and rugged gorges with stunning waterfalls.

San Gabriel Mountins IMG_2136

Access to the largest part of the San Gabriel Mountains is primarily through the spectacular Angeles Crest Highway or SR2, which runs 66 miles from the foothills of La Canada in the west all the way up into some spectacular alpine topography on the high country crest of the range, through the ski resort of Mountain High and the lovely mountain resort town of Wrightwood, and down into the Mojave desert at Highway 138 on the Northeastern corner of the range. If you were to then take Highway 138 east to the 15 Freeway, then the 15 Freeway south to the 210 Freeway, and the 210 Freeway east back to La Canada you would have driven through and around a large percentage of the San Gabriel Mountains.

There are other scenic access roads as well. Mt Baldy Road begins in Upland from Mountain Avenue and takes you  through picturesque Mt Baldy Village up into an alpine wonderland on the flank of the tallest peak in the San Gabriel Mountains, 10,064′ Mt San Antonio, also known as Mt Baldy. Another road is Highway 39 from Azusa that runs up the canyon of the San Gabriel River approximately 25 miles to the dramatically situated Crystal Lake Campground. And on the western edge of the range Lytle Creek Road accessed from the 15 Freeway travels up Lytle Creek Canyon offering easy access into some of the most spectacular scenery of the range. Also spectacular Big Tujunga Canyon Road travels up the deep gorge of Big Tujunga Creek from Sunland up to SR2.

If you want to familiarize yourself with the San Gabriel Mountains I would strongly recommend that you drive all these major roads, especially the Angeles Crest Highway. If you have not seen with your own eyes the astonishing beauty and tremendous diversity of the San Gabriel Mountains you will be truly amazed, and excitement will build for future hiking adventures as you enjoy the magnificent terrain of this beautiful range that exists so close to home.

Map of San Gabriel Mountains Hikes

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San Gabriel Mountains Hikes

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Lower Holcomb Canyon Hike: 34.416958, -117.837269
Allison Gulch Falls: 34.237108, -117.764894
Trail Canyon Falls: 34.305164, -118.255239
Middle Fork Lytle Creek to Lower Fall Set: 34.253681, -117.540358
Upper Eaton Canyon: 34.239295, -118.093393
Etiwanda Falls: 34.165630, -117.523308
Devils Punchbowl Punchbowl Creek: 34.413960, -117.858546
Cooper Canyon Falls with Optional Buckhorn Falls Hike: 34.347522, -117.910948
Rubio Canyon Waterfalls Hike: 34.203024, -118.122899
Stoddard Canyon Falls : 34.173224, -117.674093
Eaton Canyon Falls: 34.178373, -118.096569
Sturtevant Falls: 34.195660, -118.022471
Devils Punchbowl Devils Chair from Below: 34.421326, -117.838725
Graveyard Canyon: 34.237230, -117.812281
Dawn Mine Hike: 34.214655, -118.181074
Switzer Falls: 34.266147, -118.144304
Big Horn Mine Hike: 34.373261, -117.751760
Mt Waterman Hike: 34.345567, -117.920701
Grizzly Gulch: 34.289418, -117.551048

Table of San Gabriel Mountain Hikes

Hike NameDifficultyTypeLocationLength (RT)TimeElevationSummary
Middle Fork Lytle Creek to Lower Fall SetStrenuousWaterfall/Adventure HikeLytle Creek Area6.5 miles5 hrs1,500'Magnificent alpine canyon featuring perennial stream, old growth pines and cedars, and spectacular waterfalls - but rough ride to trail head.
Trail Canyon FallsModerateWaterfall Hike - Good TrailBig Tujunga Canyon Area4.2 miles3 hrs700'Well graded trail up a dramatic canyon to a lovely 40' waterfall
Sturtevant FallsEasyBeginner/Waterfall hikeSanta Anita Canyon3.5 miles1.5 hrs650-Easy hike, but very popular and often crowded, into gorgeous Santa Anita Canyon to lovely 40' waterfall.
Upper Eaton CanyonStrenuousAdventure HikeMt Wilson Area7 miles5 hrs1,500'Drop into the pristine alpine wilderness in the upper reaches of this famous canyon, miles from the crowds far below - and above.
Etiwanda FallsEasy to ModerateWaterfall HikeRancho Cucamonga Area4 miles2 hrs700' Well graded though shadeless trail to lovely tree-lined stream with multi-tiered waterfall 100' total height
Devils Punchbowl Punchbowl Creek HikeModerate to StrenuousAdventure HikeDevils Punchbowl Area7 miles5 hrs1,200'Dramatic sculpted sandstone and spectacular geologic formations, with waterfalls and pools in season, all deep in the bowels of the Devil's Punchbowl far from the crowds on the defined trails
Allison Gulch Falls HikeStrenuousWaterfall/Adventure HikeEast Fork San Gabriel River Area10 miles6 hrs2,000'Boulder hop up a rugged gorge from its confluence with the East Fork San Gabriel River to the rarely seen 80' tall Allison Gulch Falls.
Cooper Canyon Falls – Buckhorn Falls HikeModerateWaterfall/Adventure HikeBuckhorn Campground Area5 miles5 hrs1,000'The San Gabriel high country at its best - alpine scenery, old growth pines and cedars, lovely waterfalls.
Rubio Canyon Waterfalls HikeModerately StrenuousWaterfall/Adventure HikeAltadena Area3 miles4 hrs1,100'Easy hike to first fall, but then adventure hike on unmaintained trail with some hazardous scrambling to get to viewpoints of spectacular waterfalls.
Eaton Canyon FallsEasyBeginner/Waterfall hikeAltadena Area4 miles1.5 hrs650'Nice hike up easy to follow but sometimes crowded trail to mostly year round flowing 40' waterfall.
Lower Holcomb Canyon HikeModerateAdventure HikeDevils Punchbowl Area5 miles3 hrs500'Beautiful secluded canyon with perennial stream
Devils Punchbowl Devils Chair from BelowModerately StrenuousAdventure HikeDevils Punchbowl Area4.5 miles4 hrs800'View the dramatic Devils Chair formation from below, deep in the bowels of the spectacular geologic formations of the Devils Punchbowl, after entering the Punchbowl from the confluence of Punchbowl Creek with Big Rock Creek. All off trail with boulder hopping up stream and several areas of Class 3 and 4 scrambling.
Graveyard CanyonEasy to ModerateAdventure HikeEast Fork San Gabriel River Area5 miles3 hrs900' Interesting and easily accessed hike up a sandy stream bed with gentle grade deep into a dramatic canyon below Rattlesnake Peak.
Stoddard Canyon FallsModerately StrenuousWaterfall/Adventure HikeSan Gabriels - Mt Baldy Area4 miles4 hrs1,100'Relatively easy hike to first fall, but then adventure hike with no trail and some dangerous scrambling/climbing to access spectacular waterfalls.
Dawn Mine HikeModerateMine/Waterfall/Adventure HikeSan Gabriels - Altadena Area6 miles4 hrs1,500'This entertaining hike up wooded Millard Canyon in the San Gabriel front range features great waterfalls, a lovely seasonal stream, and a super cool abandoned gold mine.
Switzer FallsEasy to ModerateBeginner/View/Waterfall HikeSan Gabriels - Arroyo Seco Area5 - 6 miles3 - 4hrs750'Hike into a historic canyon to see a wonderful 50' tall waterfall in a beautiful wooded gorge with great views and numerous pools and cascades. Nice, popular trail with optional off trail segment up-stream to reach base of Switzer Falls.
Mt Waterman HikeEasy to ModerateBeginner/View HikeSan Gabriels - Mt Waterman Area6 miles4 hrs1,200'Hike on excellent trail to the summit of 8,041' Waterman Mountain (aka Mt Waterman), in the magnificent San Gabriel high country. Exposed granite, great views, and healthy alpine forest give this hike a flavor of the Sierras, but much closer to home.
Big Horn MineEasyMine/View HikeSan Gabriels - Vincent Gap Area4 miles2 hrs650'Hike to the surprisingly extensive remains of an abandoned gold mine high on the side of massive Mt Baden-Powell. The alpine scenery in this area of the San Gabriel Mountains is spectacular, and if you're adventurous you may be able to explore the mine as well.
Grizzly GulchModerately StrenuousWaterfall/Adventure HikeSan Gabriels - Lytle Creek Area6 miles5 hrs2,300'Hike, boulder hop, and climb short sections into a wild, pristine, and intensely unique gorge featuring stunning white cliffs.

 

 
    
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