While many overlook this trail because it is one of the few that doesn’t boast a San Gabriel summit as its climax, it’s an excellent wildlife-filled hike and an ideal challenge for those that enjoy creek crossings and some exposure.
The less intrepid turn away from this trail when they stand at the trailhead and gaze down upon the sharp descent that continues as far as the eye can see. And truly, after almost 7 miles of trekking, the sharp ascent at the very end of the adventure can pose a challenge for those who don’t have much experience with full trail day. With some careful negotiation and a formidable mindset, however, the hidden nooks and potential for adventure are ample in this slice of the San Gabriel Wilderness.
Several stream crossings and scree fields bookend regal waterfall views and impressive fallen trees as hikers scramble over massive boulders to earn the end of the trail at Devils Canyon Trail Camp. Several well-placed logs offer hikers a chance to relax before hoofing it back up from whence they came.
If 3.5 miles hasn’t satiated the adventure bug at this point, another mile of trail navigating and some bushwhacking earns hikers a front-row view of a secluded and breathtaking waterfall. Because the trail occupies an under-trodden corner of the rugged San Gabriels, gray foxes, black bears, red-tailed hawks, mule deer, and coyotes abound, and the pacifying sounds of tree frog symphonies accompany quiet hikers.
White sagebrush and fragrant vanilla-scented Jeffrey pine are rooted along the trail, affording even the dustiest of souls a satiating breath of fresh mountain air. Seasonal streams cut across the path in the spring and make their way toward Big Tujunga Canyon, the grandest of the San Gabriel’s tributaries to the Pacific Ocean and one of the last living veins tying the dusty city to the quiet backwoods. On the trail, it’s hard to fathom that downtown Los Angeles is less than 20 miles away as the crow flies, and it’s an excellent weekend escape for those looking to feel worlds away.