As seen in the Nobody Hikes in L.A. Guidebook!
- 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
- Recommended gear: hiking poles
- USGS topo map: “Mt. Wilson”
- More information: here
- Rating: 7
There are few places so close to Los Angeles that offer a sense of escape like the Big Santa Anita Canyon area. Sturtevant Falls is probably the most popular destination in the area, and on weekends the parking lot at Chantry Flats is jammed. Because of its popularity, the Sturtevant Falls hike is not necessarily the place to go for true isolation, but for being as close as it is to L.A. and the San Gabriel Valley, it’s hard to ask for an easier, more enjoyable getaway. Even if the waterfall’s flow is not strong, the hike’s moderate length and elevation gain, and the nice scenery it offers (most of which is under thick shade) make it a good year round hike. As of July 6th, the flow is particularly strong, thanks to recent drizzles and the heavy rains of this past winter. See a video of the waterfall here.
The trail to Sturtevant Falls heads down into the canyon from the lower end of the parking lot. A winding paved road descends at a fairly steep grade for 0.6 miles, arriving at a footbridge crossing Winter Creek. This brings you to an intersection, where you stay straight to head toward Sturtevant Falls. The trail enters a thick woodland of oaks and alders, following the creek, with a series of vacation cabins that are sure to make you envious. After a mile or so, you’ll arrive at a four-way junction. The route to Sturtevant Falls heads to the right and crosses the stream. After about a quarter mile, two more stream crossings bring you to the base of the falls.
On the return, if you don’t want to make your ascent by the steep paved road (known by many as “Cardiac Hill”), consider taking a left at the junction on the way back to the First Water trail, which still involves a steep climb, but on a shaded single-track trail.
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.