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.
Oak Flat Trail
- Location: About 10 miles north of Valencia. From I-5, take the Templin Highway exit. Head left, go under the freeway, and turn right on Golden State Highway, which parallels I-5. Go 2.9 miles and turn left into the signed Oak Flat Campground. Pass by the campground and park in the gravel lot by the ranger station. A National Forest Service Adventure Pass ($5 per day or $30 for the year) is required for parking here. Click here to purchase.
- Agency: Angeles National Forest/Santa Clarita and Mojave Rivers Ranger District
- Distance: 2.8 miles
- Elevation gain: 950 feet
- Suggested time: 1.5 hours
- Difficulty rating: PG
- Best season: Year-round (Hot during the summer)
- USGS topo maps: Whitaker Peak
- Recommended gear: sun hat; sunblock; hiking poles
- Recommended guidebook: Afoot & Afield Los Angeles County
- More information: Oak Flat campground information here; article about the hike here
- Rating: 7
The western corner of the Angeles National Forest isn’t as well known for its trails as the San Gabriel Mountains, but it’s got some nice ones worth checking out, such as the Oak Flats Trail. This short but steep trail makes for a nice easy escape from the San Fernando or Santa Clarita Valleys. With appropriate preparation, it can work as a summer hike. The only downside is the noise from nearby I-5, but other than that there are few signs of civilization, and the views are great.
From the ranger station, follow the signs for the trail, which lead through the Verudgo Oaks Boy Scout Camp. On the edge of the camp, the Oak Flat trail begins, heading up a staircase. The first half mile is quite steep, but the grade starts mellowing out after that and you get some wide-ranging views. The round bulk of Mt. Lukens is visible, and as you climb higher, more of the San Gabriels come into view. On clear days, sharp-eyed hikers will be able to pick out Mt. Baldy. Meanwhile, your northbound view extends toward the Grapvine Pass, including a little bit of picturesque Pyramid Lake.
The last half-mile, which includes some steps, is pretty steep, but before long you’ve reached your destination, a fire road called Whitaker Spur. Here, you get nice views westward into the Los Padres National Forest as well as the vistas of the Newhall Pass and the Santa Clarita Valley to the east and south. A picnic table makes a great place for a well-earned snack. If the climb hasn’t tired you out, you can extend your trip in either direction on the fire road, but most hikers will agree that the climb up the Oak Flats Trail is quite a workout in its own right.
When I was a child we lived at the Ranger Station on the Ridge Route. I think it was called Oak Flat Ranger Station. It was on the Grapevine. I went to school in Castiac. Is that Ranger Station still there? My Dad was the Fire Control Officer. My job was to raise the flag and take it down everyday.