An area we frequent on our hikes is Big Santa Anita Canyon in the mountains above Sierra Madre and Arcadia. This is located in part of the Angeles National Forest. From I-210, follow Santa Anita Avenue north into the foothills. Parking is at the top of the winding mountain road, in what is known as Chantry Flat. The trailhead to the following hikes begins right at the parking area. There are several trails that start here:
Hermit Falls- 2.5 miles, out and back- The hike is a moderate 1.2 miles from the fork to the falls. The hike to the falls is generally safe, though there are a few narrow spots you want to watch out for. About half of the route is well-shaded, the other half is in the sun, so sunscreen is a must. The falls are popular with teens as there are some large pools that are deep enough to jump into, especially when the water is high. However, I would never recommend that. Every year there are reports of severe injuries and even deaths from accidents at the falls. Indeed, on our last hike to the falls, there were young adults still on summer break who were cliff jumping. We stayed at the pools at the top of the falls, which were cool, clear, and deep enough for the kids to get completely soaked.
Hoegees Loop- 5.3 mile loop, Upper and Lower Winter Creek Trails- Hoegees Loop is one of our scout training hikes during our spring/summer hiking season. It is approximately 2.3 miles from the trailhead to Hoegees Camp. I have written about Hoegees Camp in a prior post , as we have backpacked to the campground with the Scout Crew. There is easy camping at Hoegees Campground, or if you’re looking for a day outing, it makes for a good loop hike or an out-and-back. This hike does not end with a waterfall but follows the stream through the tranquil forest. Our Golden retriever loves the stream crossings, especially now that the water is higher due to this past winter’s rains. Another cool sight, and word of caution, we have seen bears on this route. In fact, on our last Hoegees Hike back in July, we saw a young mama bear with her two cubs. We haven’t had trouble with bears on our hikes. We keep a respectful distance and just enjoy watching them in their natural habitat.
Sturtevant Falls, Big Santa Anita Canyon- 1.8 miles from the Chantry Flat parking lot to the falls. This one is the more popular trail and so gets the most traffic. The kids love the rock hopping and water crossings, and at the end, you’re rewarded with a beautiful 60-foot waterfall.
Some things to note:
These hikes are in the Angeles National Forest. An Adventure Pass is required to park within the forest land. This may be purchased at REI or Big 5. You may also visit the Forest Service website for a complete list of vendors. I would recommend a National Parks Service Annual Pass if you plan on visiting other federal lands or national parks and monuments.
Dogs are okay as long as they’re leashed, but I would not recommend bringing them on really hot days. The half-mile from the parking lot to the first stream crossing is paved, mostly in the sun and gets really hot. There are is a warning to pet-lovers because of a dog’s death that occurred as a result of heat exhaustion and his paws were severely damaged. Indeed, our own doggo did fine up until the last quarter-mile or so, and plopped down on the trail for a rest on a warm and rather humid day, and that was with plenty of water.
Those are just a few of our favorite day hikes at Chantry Flats. I’ll share more hiking trails in future posts. There is so much to do an see in the great outdoors of Southern California. Happy trails!