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.
Santa Anita Ridge
- 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 hereto purchase.
- Agency: Angeles National Forest, Los Angeles River District
- Distance: 7 miles
- Elevation gain: 1,300 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (Distance, elevation gain)
- Suggested time: 3.5 hours
- Best season: November – May
- USGS topo map: “Mt. Wilson”
- Recommended guidebook: Afoot & Afield Los Angeles County
- More information: here
- Rating: 6
This is a great training trip for hikers who want to increase their endurance when it comes to distance and elevation gain. Veterans might find this long trip on a fire road a little monotonous (although the views of the San Gabriel Valley are great), but if you are yet to do a hike with, say, over 1,000 feet of elevation gain or a 5 mile distance, this is a great place to start.
From Chantry Flats, the San Olene Fire Road heads west along the Santa Anita Ridge, with panoramic views of the Los Angeles basin (especially the nearby race track). While it misses out on the seclusion of the hikes lower in Santa Anita Canyon, such as the Sturtevant Falls trail, the wide vistas are hard to beat. On clear days, you can expect to see the ocean, the Santa Ana Mountains and the higher, eastern peaks of the San Gabriels.
You leave the parking lot via the paved service road (the same road that marks the last stretch of the Winter Creek and Mount Zion loops). After a short uphill climb, stay on the road where the Upper Winter Creek trail branches off to the right. You soon pass by a heliport and you continue your climb.
After three miles of steady ascent, the road passes through a pleasant wooded area, and about half a mile later, you arrive at a flat area where there are great views of the nearby communities. Sunsets are particularly nice here, and with easy navigation and terrain, this trip works well as an evening hike. Just remember that the Chantry Flats gate is closed nightly at 8pm.