“An easy outing on the Gabrielino Trail from Red Box picnic area to Valley Forge Campground”
— Tim Whalen
River/Creek · Views
While this might be a bit long for a day trip, the availability of camping makes this a great first backpacking trip for youngsters.
An Adventure Pass is required for parking at Red Box picnic area on Highway 2. Avoid the trail during and after rains.
This route is a nice day trip or short overnight camping opportunity in the middle of the Gabrielino Trail (NRT)
Need to Know
Bring plenty of water in the summer and fall. In the winter and spring you'll have to cross the stream several times. Avoid this trail during and after heavy rains.
From the trailhead located along Hwy 2, look for the sign at the top of some stone steps. Head down and the dry grassy route will quickly enter the trees and descend along the west fork of the San Gabriel River. The riverbed is dry most of the year so bring plenty of water. After about a mile, look for a marker as you cross Rincon Red Box Road to pick up the trail on the other side.
Off to the right of the trail you'll spot some big buildings. This is the site of the Long Beach School District's Hi-Hill Outdoor School. It has been closed since 2008 due to fire danger and cost savings but was spared by the Station Fire in 2009. You'll pass several old cabins soon after but another marker below them marks the continuation of the Gabrielino Trail (NRT). The trail cuts through a big patch of blackberry bushes. Take a few to power you through the next section of trail if the season is right.
About 1.5 miles past the road you'll see a sign to Valley Forge campground and leave the Gabrielino Trail (NRT) to the left. Continue along a short downhill stretch and you'll arrive at the campground. There are several picnic tables, some signboards and vault toilets at the campground. The journey back out to the Red Box trailhead will take a little longer as you climb back up the arroyo.
A popular variation that uses a short car shuttle is to take the Valley Forge Trail #12W09
down from the Mt. Wilson Red Box Road and return back to Red Box on the Gabrielino Trail (NRT).
Flora & Fauna
Watch for poison oak along the trail. At one point the trail will cut through a huge blackberry patch. This route is mostly shaded by oak, bigcone spruce, alder, sycamore and bay trees. Deer and coyotes are commonly seen.
History & Background
The Long Beach School District's Hi-Hill Outdoor School (closed since 2008) is midway along this route.