Bridge to Nowhere / East Fork San Gabriel River Trail

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Bridge to Nowhere / East Fork San Gabriel River Trail

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  • East Fork parking area and trailhead. Filling out a free wilderness permit at the trailhead is required.- Bridge to Nowhere / East Fork San Gabriel River Trail
  • The Bridge to Nowhere Trail begins just behind the gate at the end of the parking area.- Bridge to Nowhere / East Fork San Gabriel River Trail
  • Enjoy the level trail with a view of the San Gabriel River. This is the easiest part of the hike.- Bridge to Nowhere / East Fork San Gabriel River Trail
  • A group camping area near the beginning of the trail.- Bridge to Nowhere / East Fork San Gabriel River Trail
  • Several river crossings are required along the hike.- Bridge to Nowhere / East Fork San Gabriel River Trail
  • Signs of old mining towns and the abandoned highway are visible throughout the hike, such as these bridge supports.- Bridge to Nowhere / East Fork San Gabriel River Trail
  • A small bridge along the trail is a sign that you're about halfway to the Bridge to Nowhere.- Bridge to Nowhere / East Fork San Gabriel River Trail
  • Climb out of the river canyon and trace the old roadbed along the mountainside.- Bridge to Nowhere / East Fork San Gabriel River Trail
  • Portions of the trail require dodging sharp yucca plants.- Bridge to Nowhere / East Fork San Gabriel River Trail
  • A view of a year-round river flowing through a dry valley environment.- Bridge to Nowhere / East Fork San Gabriel River Trail
  • Signs noting that the Bridge to Nowhere and surrounding land lies on private property.- Bridge to Nowhere / East Fork San Gabriel River Trail
  • A view of the Bridge to Nowhere.- Bridge to Nowhere / East Fork San Gabriel River Trail
  • Continue hiking past the Bridge to Nowhere to access the Narrows and its backcountry camp and swimming holes.- Bridge to Nowhere / East Fork San Gabriel River Trail
  • Small waterfalls and pools to cool down just beyond the bridge.- Bridge to Nowhere / East Fork San Gabriel River Trail
  • Backcountry camping in the Narrows.- Bridge to Nowhere / East Fork San Gabriel River Trail
  • The Narrows section of the canyon is full of scenic small waterfalls.- Bridge to Nowhere / East Fork San Gabriel River Trail
  • The Narrows.- Bridge to Nowhere / East Fork San Gabriel River Trail
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Overview + Weather
Pros: 
River parallels much of the trail. Amazing swimming holes located in the Narrows.
Cons: 
Crowds along the trail. Easy to lose track of the trail.
Region:
San Gabriel + San Bernardino Mountains, CA
Congestion: 
Moderate
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Day-Use/Parking Pass Required:
California Adventure Pass
Total Distance: 
10.50 mi (16.90 km)
Trailhead Elev.: 
2,020 ft (616 m)
Net Elev. Gain: 
800 ft (244 m)
Trail Uses:
Hiking, Horseback
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Dogs allowed: 
Yes, with restrictions

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Hike Description

Hike Description

Pro Contributor

The trail leading to the Bridge to Nowhere is a very popular hike lying about an hour from downtown Los Angeles and heading into the wild canyons of the San Gabriel River.

Also known as the East Fork Trail, the hike gets its name from the scenic and grossly out of place arch bridge lying about 5 miles up the canyon with only a trail on either side. The bridge was built during the planned construction of a highway connecting the San Gabriel Valley with the mountain city of Wrightwood. Work began in 1936, but about two years later, a large flood washed away the roadbed, and plans to continue working on the highway were suspended. Today much of the former roadbed is visible and makes up a portion of the hike itself, though sporadic floods and landslides ensure that the landscape and trail network remains fluid.

The route to the Bridge to Nowhere moves through the shaded canyon bottom and the shadeless plateaus along the former roadbed. Several river crossings are required, though the changing trails mean that this number might fluctuate from one season to the next. Having the right footwear to walk through shin-deep water is a must.

The hike itself is very technical, crossing running water, sandy washes, stony dry riverbeds, and narrow yucca-filled labyrinths just waiting to stab hikers who aren't sufficiently careful. Some scrambling is also required. Although the trail splits and becomes hard to follow at quite a few points, heading upriver will eventually lead you to the bridge. At about 3.5 miles, look uphill to the east, and the old roadbed will become visible. The easiest way to proceed is getting onto the trail on this roadbed.

The bridge itself is on private property, with permission to pass granted by the owners. There are no amenities at any point along the river. On weekends, the bridge serves as a popular bungee jumping spot. 

While the Bridge to Nowhere is a popular hiking destination, the Narrows of the East Fork Canyon lying a quarter mile beyond it offer the most scenic swimming holes of the hike, along with several flats among the trees where hikers can set up camp for the night. The Narrows is prone to flooding, which can change the available campsites; however, there are multiple areas that are suitable for camping that can be found by hiking deeper into the Narrows and further from the bridge.

Since the vast majority of hikers are on day hikes to the bridge, camping out in the Narrows gives backpackers an opportunity to experience the bridge along with some of the swimming holes without the crowds. 

Before beginning the hike, hikers are required to fill out a wilderness permit, available in the East Fork parking area or about a half-mile in at the group campsite. All cars in the East Fork parking area must display a California Adventure Pass, available at Big 5 Sporting Goods or Liquor Land - both located on Azusa Avenue north of the I-210 freeway in Azusa. For those interested in camping, be aware that daily Adventure Passes are good only until 10 a.m. the following morning. Vault toilets and trash cans are available in the parking area. 

Be sure to carry plenty of water and sun protection, and be sure to watch out for the poison oak that lies in areas along the trail and in the Narrows camping areas.

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(23 within a 30 mile radius)

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