Difficulty PG13 Distance 2.1 to 5 miles General information: Dogs allowed General information: Hikes with free parking Rating: 4-6 San Gabriel Valley & Foothills (East) Season: Fall/Early Winter Season: Late Winter/Spring

Garcia Trail


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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.

Sunset from the Garcia Trail
Sunset from the Garcia Trail
Looking north into San Gabriel Canyon from top of the Garcia Trail
Looking north into San Gabriel Canyon from top of the Garcia Trail

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.

Garcia Trail

  • 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.”

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8 comments

  1. Wow David, I was just below you watching the very same sunset on Orange Blossom street just off Sierra Madre to the west of the Fire Station, (west side) of Rosedale development. It was very pretty!

  2. Two days behind you on this trail. 😀

    I continued on to the higher peak to the east-northeast. I don’t suppose you have a real topo map that can tell me if that was Glendora Peak? The elevation (or at least a number that I assumed was elevation) on a stake (3547)at the summit did not match the altitude I have seen given on other sources.

  3. Garcia Trail is a tough workout regardless of the shape your in. I’ve ran/hiked it numerous times and it never seems to get any easier. Great write-up!

  4. David – I just clicked on the link, and it appears this trail is closed bec of the Azusa fire – you may want to print a warning up top. Dianne

    1. Thanks for calling this to my attention. For some reason I had the impression that the trail had re-opened but sadly this is not the case. I added a few links where folks can go for updated info.

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