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Bear Canyon Trail 12W08



4.8 mile 7.7 kilometer point to point


Ascent: 2,241' 683 m
Descent: -366' -112 m
High: 4,890' 1,491 m
Low: 2,656' 810 m


Avg Grade: 10% (6°)
Max Grade: 28% (16°)


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A trail 4.8 miles long from Gabrielino Trail (NRT) to Tom Sloane Saddle.

John McKinney

Features Commonly Backpacked · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife

The section of Gabrielino Trail (NRT) from the junction of Bear Canyon Trail south to the junction with Ken Burton Trail is now open. Make sure you turn onto Bear Canyon Trail.

Need to Know

Bear Canyon Trail Camp is a popular overnight camping location for scouts and small groups.


Bear Canyon Trail starts at the junction with Gabrielino Trail (NRT) near Switzers Falls, about one mile downstream from the Switzer Day Use Area parking lot. Head down into the gorge and at the stream (about 0.4 miles) there is a little turn-off that leads upstream to the base of the falls. Continue down into the gorge past several nice pools (currently partially silted in).

After about 0.7 miles, the trail enters Bear Canyon and follows Bear Creek upstream under a shaded canopy of bay, alder, oak and maple trees. There are many stream crossings that can be difficult after heavy rains. Bear Canyon Trail Camp is about two miles along the trail; the camp has three campsites (non reservable) and there is seasonal stream water available.

The trail continues upstream from the campground and becomes rough and hard to find in a few places. After another mile, the trail climbs out of the canyon near a small stone building reaching Tom Sloane Saddle at about 3.5 miles where there is a junction with the Dawn Mine Trail 12W13, the Tom Sloan Trail #12W22 and a well-used path to Brown Mountain. This trail makes a hard left turn and climbs steeply another mile up the mostly shadeless ridge ending at the Mt. Lowe Road #2N50.

Thanks to John McKinney, The Trailmaster, for sharing this trail description. To learn more about trails in California, check out his guides at The Trailmaster Store.

Flora & Fauna

Alder, oak, bay, maple and bigcone spruce trees line the trail on the canyon floor. Nice mosses and ferns on north facing side. Good wildflowers in spring including Humboldt Lillies, delphinium, collinsia, monkey flowers and bright orange and red flowers on the succulent dudleya. Beware of poison oak. Bears are shy and usually avoid people.

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9 Views Last Month
529 Since Aug 9, 2017



Small stone building in Bear Canyon
Mar 26, 2018 near Altadena, CA
Top of Bear Canyon Trail with views of Los Angeles
Mar 26, 2018 near Altadena, CA
Ferns and mosses along Bear Canyon Trail
Mar 26, 2018 near Altadena, CA
Bear Canyon Trail Crew repairing tread.
Oct 12, 2017 near Altadena, CA
Bear Canyon Trail near Arroyo Seco
Mar 26, 2018 near Altadena, CA
Waterfall in Bear Canyon above camp
Mar 26, 2018 near Altadena, CA

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