“A long, wooded trail following streams. Accessed from a number of trailheads.”
— Justin Jasper
Birding · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife · Commonly Backpacked
The section from Switzer Day Use Area down to the falls is a favorite family destination.
Need to Know
Parking area at Switzer Day Use Area, Red Box and Chantry Flats fill up early on weekends and require an Adventure Pass.
From near JPL (on Windsor Ave.), 1.25 miles of paved trail leads to another ~3 miles of nice dirt single and doubletrack following the Arroyo Secco, with only a modest vertical gain. It climbs up and around a debris filled dam and continues to follow the stream to the junction with the Ken Burton Trail
, about 5 miles. From there, the trail continues up past Oakwilde Camp then climbs steeply to a junction with the Bear Canyon Trail 12W08
and further on to Switzer Picnic Area. Thanks to the work of CORBA and MWBA with support from REI, the trail is open all the way to Switzers as of August 2018.
The trail can be accessed again at Switzer Picnic Area. Going west downstream, the trail follows an old road through a shaded canyon for 1 mile then briefly ascends and contours on singletrack around Switzer Falls. It comes to a junction with the Bear Canyon Trail 12W08
which drops down into the canyon. The trail contours west, then drops into a side canyon rejoining the Arroyo Seco
above Oakwilde Camp.
Heading east parallels Hwy. 2 to Red Box. This section goes upstream then begins a series of switchbacks through open chaparral to Red Box. It can be used as a connector loop around Strawberry Peak.
East from Red Box, the trail follows the West Fork of the San Gabriel River through shaded, mostly downhill terrain to Valley Forge Campground then contours and drops to West Fork Trail Camp in 5 miles. The Valley Forge Trail #12W09
and Kenyon DeVore Trail #11W13
both connect with the trail and go south towards Mt. Wilson. It is possible to loop back on the other side of the river along a fire road.
From West Fork Camp, the trail follows the river down a very pleasant mile to Devore Trail Camp then climbs through a mostly shaded forest to Newcomb Pass where there is a junction with the Rim Trail #11W28
. It then descends into Santa Anita Canyon and in 3 miles there is a junction with the Sturtevant Trail which goes upstream. It continues down passing through Spruce Grove Trail Camp and Cascade Picnic Area. There is a fork with the the Sturtevant Loop Trail going straight and this trail going left down and crossing the stream. It passes a rocky section with narrow tread above Sturtevant Falls
and rejoins with the Sturtevant Loop Trail at Fern Lodge. The upper trail is safer and better for stock while the lower trail has nice views of the waterfall but is narrow and rocky in places. From there it heads downstream through a shaded canyon to Roberts Camp. Forest Route 2N40
, a paved road, can be taken up to Chantry Flat which is officially the other terminus of this trail.
Flora & Fauna
Alder, bay, sycamore, maple, oak, bigcone spruce shade much of the trail. Open chaparral of scrub oak, ceanothus, laurel sumac, buckwheat are common on the exposed sections. Deer are often seen but bears are usually shy. Watch for rattlesnakes and avoid the prolific poison oak.