Remarkably close to cacophonous Los Angeles, it takes around an hour of weaving through the rugged San Gabriel Mountains to reach the site. For those hoping for an open campsite in the winter months, it’s an excellent alternative to its neighboring Manzanita Loop from mid-November to mid-April.
Low vegetation allows sweeping views over the new, rugged mountains, though the lack of substantial and rooted vegetation exposes campers to harsh sun in the summertime and whipping winter wind. Be proactive and set up a tent underneath a sun shelter or behind a formidable wind blocker. Behemoth granite boulders speckle the grounds and can offer much needed wind shields on a rough day.
Potable water is not available at the site, and if you find yourself with limited food and water, Newcomb’s Ranch is a mere mile from the site and serves up pints of microbrews and decadent homemade beef chili. Although it’s a biker favorite and shoulder-to-shoulder leather jackets often occupy the bar, a sojourn by the fireplace in the midst of a lively crowd can be a welcome reward after a day tromping along dusty trails.
Near the entrance of the campground the road intersects the 53-mile-long Silver Moccasin Trail. Widely renowned as one of the best trails in the area, it follows old Native American trails and continues on toward the rocky and impressive Mount Waterman. Bighorn sheep afford those with a keen eye a chance sighting among the fragrant cedars and the vanilla-scented pine.
Widely broadcasted across the campground are signs to be cautious of bear activity, but wildlife spotted in and around the site includes bobcats, coyotes, mule deer, badgers, mountain lion, weasel, and grey fox, none of which pose a threat to campers who diligently and safely store their food and travel in pairs.
For even the dustiest of souls, taking in the expansive and brilliant star-filled night sky is like hitting the refresh button, and a welcome reprieve from the city's light pollution.