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: Highway 39 south of Crystal Lake in the Angeles National Forest. From the 210 freeway in Azusa, take the Azusa Ave. exit (highway 39) and head north for a total of 20.5 miles. On the way, Highway 39 becomes San Gabriel Canyon Road. At mile marker 34.8, look for a small dirt turnout on the right side of the road. A National Forest Service adventure pass ($5 per day or $30 for the year) is required for parking. Click here to purchase.
- Agency: Angeles National Forest/Los Angeles River District
- Distance: 0.8 miles
- Elevation gain: 300 feet
- Suggested time: 45 minutes
- Difficulty rating: PG
- Best season: Year-round (Check on conditions)
- USGS topo map: Crystal Lake
- Recommended gear: hiking poles; insect repellent
- Recommended guidebook: Afoot & Afield Los Angeles County
- More information: here
- Rating: 6
From the turnout on highway 39, follow a trail that heads up, steeply, into the canyon. You pass by several cabins similar to those in the Santa Anita Canyon area. There are a couple of places where you will have to step over trees, including one particularly tricky stretch about a quarter mile in, but overall navigation isn’t too difficult.
Soon, the trail dips down to meet Soldier Creek, which can present something of an obstacle if the water levels are high and the current is swift. As of this writing, crossing is possible on a large fallen tree with several branches, making an easy, if somewhat nerve-wracking exercise.
On the opposite side, you work your way along the banks, climb up a few rocks, duck under some bushes and soon you’ll hear the cascade of Lewis Falls. The waterfall drops over a large rock face and into a big pool. It’s hard to completely take in the view of the waterfall, but you can still get a decent look at it from dry ground. To see a video of Lewis Falls, click here.