Sycamore Flat Campground is a small, 12-site campground located on the northern edge of the San Gabriel Mountains. On the drier side of the mountain range, the campground and surrounding area is characterized by desert chaparral, an open scrubland dotted with short shrubs. Likewise, the campground possesses a unique, otherworldly quality that can’t be found on the southern side of the San Gabriel divide.
Being a small campground directly adjacent to Big Rock Creek Road, Sycamore Flat Campground is short on amenities and limited in privacy. Officially, the campground has running water during the summer months, but reports are mixed, suggesting frequent periods of unavailability. Pack in plenty of water. Additionally, campgrounds are close together, huddled around a copse of juniper and sycamore. Campers here will be in close proximity to one another, and the amount of shade each campsite gets is directly proportional to the length of its parking spot—the longer the spot, the farther away from cover and shade.
Nevertheless, Sycamore Flat Campground offers unique adventure opportunities that make it a worthwhile visit. It sits in a basin that includes the Devil’s Punchbowl, a fascinating artifact of Southern California plate tectonics. At an intersection of the San Andreas Fault, Pinyon Fault, and Punchbowl Fault, The Devil’s Punchbowl is a syncline canyon created by mountain building forces and soil erosion, and from the area’s many hiking trails, several layers of Southern California’s geology are visible. Insulated by the San Gabriel Mountains from Los Angeles light pollution, its clearer skies and open terrain make it ideal for stargazing and astrophotography.
Given its moderate visitation, Sycamore Flat Campground may very well be empty of other campers. That makes it the perfect desert hideout for backcountry adventure.
Note: Sycamore Flat Campground is open year-round and sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.