As seen in the Nobody Hikes in L.A. Guidebook!
Text and photography copyright 2010 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. The author does not take any responsibility for injuries sustained during hikes or walks on the routes described here. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.
Winter Creek Loop
- 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 National 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: 5.5 miles
- Elevation gain: 1,000 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (elevation gain)
- Suggested time: 3 hours
- Best season: All year
- USGS topo map: “Mt. Wilson”
- Recommended gear: hiking poles
- More information: here; trip reports here.
- Rating: 8
No matter what time of year it is, the Winter Creek Loop is a great hike. Whether you are looking for a springtime walk along a swiftly flowing stream, shade from the summer heat or great autumn foliage, you’ll find it on this trail. It offers a lot of the scenic attractiveness of nearby Sturtevant Falls, but it is not as heavily used, and like the other trails in the Chantry Flats area, it will make you forget that you are only half an hour from downtown L.A.
From the parking lot, take the paved road down into Santa Anita Canyon, as if you were headed to Sturtevant Falls. However, after crossing the footbridge at the bottom of the hill (0.6 miles), take a hard left and head up the Winter Creek trail, following the stream. You immediately enter a woodland of oaks and adlers, made all the more pleasant by the sound of the flowing water (be careful on the creek crossings), and soon you negotiate a few switchbacks up a hillside to arrive at Hoegees Camp, the approximate half-way point of this hike.
From Hoegees, follow the trail out of the camp and take a left at the next junction, and soon after a second left, to access the Upper Winter Creek Trail. This trail climbs out of the canyon, giving nice views of the nearby peaks above and the parking lot below. After topping out, it begins its descent to hook up with the fire road that completes the last half mile of the loop. This is a hike that rewards repeated visitation, not too strenuous for beginners but still an enjoyable challenge for veterans.