Note: This trail has been closed since the 2014 Colby Fire. It is expected to remain closed until 2019. Visit “Citizens to Save Garcia Trail” on Facebook for updates about restoration efforts and progress. Information may also be available on the Garcia Trail Yelp page.
Text and photography copyright 2011 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.
- Location: Azusa, in back of L.A. County Fire Station #97, 18453 Sierra Madre Ave. From the west, take I-210 to the Irwindale Ave. exit. Head north (left) on Irwindale, go 0.3 miles and turn right on Foothill Blvd. Go 0.5 miles and turn left on Todd Ave. Go 0.7 miles and turn right on Sierra Madre. At 1.4 miles, cross through the rotary, and continue on Sierra Madre Blvd. The fire station will be on the left; park on the left side of the street wherever available. From the east, take I-210 to Grand Ave. Take a left on Baseline and a quick right on Grand Ave. Go north for 1.8 miles and take a left on Sierra Madre. The fire station will be on your right in 1.4 miles.
- Agency: City of Azusa/Azusa Pacific University
- Distance: 2.4 miles
- Elevation gain: 1,100 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (Steepness, elevation gain)
- Suggested time: 1.5 hours
- Best season: October – May
- USGS topo map: Azusa
- Recommended gear: Hiking Poles
- More information: here
- Rating: 6
No, it’s not a typo: this hike really does gain more than 1,000 feet of elevation in just over a mile, making it the second shortest PG-13 hike to date on this blog, behind only Ladyface Mountain.
That being said, anyone in decent physical shape should have no problem with this hike, especially if they take their time, and it’s a cool day. Until you get near the top, the trail condition is great, and the route couldn’t be simpler to follow. Its easy location, combined with the great views and vigorous workout it offers, makes it very popular, especially with students at nearby Azusa Pacific University, so remember that if the sorority girls can do it, so can you. On my trip, besides the college kids, I saw families with small kids, solo hikers and even a few trail runners. Masochists!
From the fire station, follow the sign to the Garcia Trail, which starts climbing up the ridge. The views are good almost immediately and get wider as you climb, including the Santa Ana Mountains, downtown L.A., the Palos Verdes Peninsula and the ocean. The grade of the trail is fairly consistent – it’s never brutally steep, but it never lets up either.
About three quarters of the way up, you round a bend and you can see the giant white “A” on the hill, which is visible from the street. Here, the trail becomes a little rougher, so be careful, especially on the descent.
Soon, the trail ends at the Glendora Mountain Motorway, where you get a nearly 360-degree view of the surrounding area. Die-hards can continue their climb to nearby Azusa Peak, another 200 feet higher, but most hikers, including the author, will probably find this trail – short as it is – to be more than adequate a workout. The experience of the Garcia Trail is perhaps best summed up by a descending hiker that I met when I was nearing the top: “Well, I hated it coming up, but now it’s nice.”