Stepping It Up
Slightly Longer Adventures
Bridge to Nowhere
Sheep Mountain Wilderness, Angeles National Forest
Map(s): Angeles High Country (Tom Harrison maps)
Scouts love water, and this trek has lots of it! This 10 mile round trip backpacking trek follows the San Gabriel River to the famous LA landmark: the "Bridge to Nowhere". This truss arc bridge was built in 1936 to prepare a route from the San Gabriel valley to Wrightwood, until a large flood in 1938 washed the surrounding road away ... and left the concrete bridge stranded in the middle of the wilderness. From that point on it became an amusing landmark to be visited by hikers ... and now bungee jumpers.
Parking can be tricky, so read the Internet and plan ahead. The trek itself is modestly uphill to get to the bridge, and makes a dozen or more water crossings of the San Gabriel river ... which is typically flowing year round. Plan to get your feet wet. Scouts will have a blast rock hopping and occasionally getting knee deep in cool water. A rather large open area exists half a mile south of the bridge to pitch tents and make camp (dispersed ... see photo above). From there you can ditch your packs, and finish the last bit to the bridge. If you have time, consider hiking up the river beyond the bridge - in the water - and you'll come across a ton of gorgeous, secluded pools and mini-waterfalls. Next morning, pack up and return to your vehicles.
Bottom line is this is a great hike for scouts who can hike a bit more distance with a pack ... and it keeps them engaged with a ton of river crossings and a cool oddball wonder (aka: the bridge in the woods) as a destination.
For status from the Angeles National Forest, check here.
Related HAT Awards
San Bernardino Trails Award - East Fork Segment
Wilderness permit required, which you should be able to pick up at the trailhead (no reservation required). Will also need an Adventure Pass for your vehicle.
Angeles National Forest
Map(s): Angeles Front Country (Tom Harrison maps)
This is a supper fun and challenging hike with a ton of CA Historical site to see. The Trail starts in Alta Dena - take Lake Avenue off the 210 Fwy and go north until it dead ends. Park along the street and start your hike at the Historical Cobb Estate.
The trail first takes you up to Echo Mountain, the site of the Historic Echo Mountain Resort - Grand Hotel - Tennis Courts, Swimming Pool and more. This portion of the trail is roughly 2.5 mile with some good elevation gain. Lots of non hiker do this portion on the weekends so you will want to start early in the morning to get parking. After taking in the historic sites at the Echo Mountain Resort - there are a couple of Trails that take you up to the Mt. Lowe Trail Camp - a historical site of Ye Alpine Tavern - - this is where you will set up camp (has a new pit toilet - a fancy one) and there is a spring water source just outside of camp.
A favorite trail up to the Trail Camp is to hike along the old electric rail way where there are historic plaques along the way to describe what took place from the 1890's through the 1930's. (More on the history of this place later) Then from there, it is 1.4 miles with 1,100 feet in elevation gain up to the top of Mt. Lowe. After taking a swing ride, it's back down to camp for dinner and then a short day hike just before sunset to get up to Inspiration Point to see the sun set over LA and Pasadena and then the magic of watching the town light up with the city lights as it gets dark. Pretty spectacular. Back into camp for a camp fire and a good nights rest, for after all by this point you have covered 10+ miles and 3,900 feet in elevation gain. Up in the morning - have a good breakfast and hike back down to Echo Mountain and then on to Lake Ave for the short drive home.
Related HAT Awards
San Bernardino Trails Award - Mt. Lowe Segment
No permit required. Five hike-in campsites. Stream water (treat before using). Stream can be seasonal so check online at hiking websites to see if it is flowing before you count on it being there.
Mission Springs on the Pacific Crest Trail, Big Bear
San Bernardino National Forest
Map(s): San Gorgonio Wilderness (Tom Harrison maps)
There are several options with this trek idea, but the primary purpose is to combine easy access in the San Bernardino mountains, some modest elevation gain and mileage, a remote-wilderness feel, an option for no permits, a chance for access to water ... and depending on how you do it a neat opportunity to engage with the thru-hiking community on the Pacific Crest Trail.
With the San Gorgonio Wilderness sitting to the south, Heart Bar provides access to this trail system with some of the least elevation gain of the area ... though that isn't saying much. Several dirt roads branch from the area and can be used to access trailheads and camps either via 4x4 high clearance vehicles or as hiking trails if required. Check with the San Bernardino National Forest webiste to determine if the entrance gates to the road(s) are open or closed based on season or fire closure conditions. In particular, look for information on Forest Service Road1N05.
In terms of locations to trek, a few include:
Fish Creek - Nestled just inside the boundary of the San Gorgonio Wilderness, this location is a popular remote backpacking location that sits astride an often running water source (Fish Creek).
Related HAT Awards
Telescope Peak Award, Orange County Council
No permit required. Campsites are first come first serve.