- Location: Angeles National Forest, north of Azusa. From I-210, take the Azusa Avenue (highway 39) north for 11.6 miles (make sure to stay on the road where it bares to the left, 1.6 miles north of the freeway and becomes San Gabriel Canyon Road.) Turn right on East Fork Road and follow it five miles a hairpin turn where it intersects with Glendora Mountain Road. If no parking is available on the small lot at the intersection, continue downhill on East Fork Road, cross the bridge and drive a quarter mile, where parking is available on the curb (avoid the “no parking” signs.) A United States Forest Service adventure pass ($5 per day or $30 for the year) is required for parking. Click here to purchase.
- Agency: Angeles National Forest/San Gabriel Ranger District
- Distance: 6.4 miles
- Elevation gain: 750 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG
- Suggested time: 3.5 hours
- Best season: October – June
- USGS topo maps: Mt. Baldy, Glendora
- Recommended gear: insect repellent; sun hat; hiking poles(stream crossings)
- Recommended guidebook: Afoot & Afield Los Angeles County
- More information: Article about the area’s history here
- Rating: 7
This is one of the more enjoyable hikes in the lower country of the San Gabriel Mountains. Cattle Canyon is one of several tributaries of the San Gabriel River’s east fork, and this hike requires about twenty stream crossings. Most of them are easy, but hikers should expect to get their feet wet. Sturdy water-proof sandals are an option, although hiking boots provide better ankle support over the often rocky terrain. It’s like a much easier version of the nearby Bridge to Nowhere hike, but the payoff isn’t quite as good: instead of visiting one of the most iconic sites in the L.A. hiking culture, it ends unceremoniously at a gate. Still, the hike is quite scenic and well worth a visit.
From the road, head down to the south end of the bridge, where a trail heads down into the canyon. Don’t be put off by the graffiti and litter; it’s pretty bad near the trail head but becomes less noticeable as you get deeper into the forest. You soon make the first of many stream crossings, as the trail and river intertwine with each other as you make your way up the canyon.
After about a mile, look for a glimpse of Mt. Baldy, poking up above the hills in the distance. You get a little bit of shade from some oaks, and the terrain gets less rocky as you progress.
Finally, you reach a gate that marks the end of the hike. While this may seem a little anti-climatic as a destination, you can enjoy some nice views higher up into the canyon from behind the fence, or perhaps sit by the last stream crossing and take in the peace and quiet for a few minutes before turning around.
Text and photography copyright 2012 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.