The short, kid-friendly section of this hike originates at the Upper Chilao Trailhead and finds its natural turnaround point at the Horse Flats Campground. For a bit more work and an excellent reward, an additional 0.5 miles earns hikers panoramic views of the San Gabriel Mountains from the Horse Flats Boulders by way of the Mount Hillyer Trail.
The full, historical 53-mile Silver Moccasin Trail originates at Chantry Flat Recreation Area above Arcadia, California, and traverses through a rugged and secluded singletrack trail that connects Mount Balden-Powell, Mount Burnham, Throop Peak, and Mount Hawkins, ending at Vincent Gap on the Angeles Crest Highway near Wrightwood.
The section of the trail featured here is just about at the halfway point and travels north. With sweeping views over the Big Tujunga Canyon, it affords hikers a privileged picture of the creeks that carve through the crumbling hills and make their way into the bottom of the giant chasm.
The river that runs through the Big Tujunga is a major tributary of the Los Angeles River that stitches together the San Gabriel Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, offering the big-city dwellers a link to a natural wooded environment. Because of its relative inaccessibility by humans and its natural riparian ecosystem, it is an important and essential haven for wildlife and a habitat for a number of sensitive animal species.
The fragrant smell of sagebrush fills the air as lucky hikers get a peek at coyotes, gray foxes, bighorn sheep, bears, or a wide variety of predatory hawks. This trail makes for a perfect day-cap before collapsing under a gleaming star-filled sky. Though it’s just 18 miles away from the bustling, cacophonous city of Los Angeles, there are remarkably few hikers along the trail, making this a welcome reprieve from crowds and city noise. Even though the hike is short, bringing plenty of water, especially on a hot day, is highly recommended.