- Location: Angeles National Forest north of Arcadia. From Interstate 210, head north on Santa Anita Avenue (right if you are coming from the east, left if you are coming from the west). After passing through a residential area, you reach a vehicle gate. The road starts climbing up into the mountains, and arrives at the Chantry Flats parking lot after about 3 miles. A United States Forest Service adventure pass ($5 for a day or $30 for the year) is required. Click here to purchase.
- Agency: Angeles National Forest, Los Angeles River District
- Distance: 3.4 miles
- Elevation gain: 700 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG
- Suggested time: 2 hours
- Best season: All year
- Dogs: Allowed on leash (exercise caution on warm days)
- Cell phone reception: None
- Water: Available at a fountain at the trail head; the creek flows year round and usually provides enough water for filtration
- Restrooms: Vault toilets at the trail head and at the bottom of the paved road (0.6 mile from the start)
- Camping/backpacking: Chantry Flats is only open for day use (6am-8pm). If you are dropped off and want to extend the trip into an overnighter, the nearest trail camps are Hoegees and Spruce Grove.
- Recommended guidebook: Afoot and Afield: Los Angeles County: A Comprehensive Hiking Guide
- More information: Trip descriptions here, here, here, here and here; Yelp page here
- Rating: 7
Updated May 2018
Sturtevant Falls is a perennial favorite of all L.A. hikers, offering an experience that is accessible to beginners but also holds up surprisingly well for veterans. The 50-foot waterfall usually flows year-round and can be quite impressive if there has been recent rain. The hike to reach it offers a chance to explore a scenic canyon and features some dramatic mountain views. Sadly the waterfall’s relatively easy access has led to trash and some graffiti, although not as bad as in other places such as Bonita Canyon or Sapphire Falls (or even neighboring Hermit Falls).
Begin by following the paved road on the south side of the parking lot. It drops 400 feet over the next 0.6 mile – an incline which, on the way back, is known as “Cardiac Hill.” You pass a turnoff for Hermit Falls and continue the descent into Big Santa Anita Canyon, finally arriving at a footbridge. The Winter Creek Trail branches off to the left while the First Water Trail to Hermit Falls is on the right. The Gabrielino Trail continues north into a thick woodland of oaks, sycamores, alders and bay laurels. The creek flows past numerous vacation homes and over a few check dams. As you enjoy the tranquility, keep an eye out for poison oak which grows in abundance on the sides of the trails.
At 1.4 miles from the start, you reach a four-way junction. The left and center forks are both part of the Gabrielino Trail while the route to Sturtevant Falls branches off to the right. You make the first of three stream crossings (known as “Fiddler’s Crossing”) and continue north into the canyon, soon arriving at the waterfall which drops down the cliff into a large pool.
One last note about Sturtevant Falls and other hikes originating from Chantry Flat: parking can be nearly impossible on the weekends. Plan accordingly.
Text and photography copyright 2018 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.