Elfin Forest Nature Trail
- Location: Lower San Antonio Fire Station, 3000 N. Mountain Ave, Upland. From I-210, take the Mountain Ave. exit and head north for 4 miles. (Note that Mountain Ave. makes a few turns on the way up, so be sure to follow the street signs.) The fire station is on the right, shortly before Mountain Ave. becomes Shinn Road and meets Mt. Baldy Road. A United States Forest Service adventure pass ($5 per day or $30 for the year) is required for parking. Click here to purchase.
- Agency: Angeles National Forest/San Gabriel River Ranger District
- Distance: 0.9 miles
- Elevation gain: 200 feet
- Suggested time: 30 minutes
- Difficulty rating: G
- Best season: Year-round
- USGS topo map: Mt. Baldy
- More information: here; Everytrail report here
- Rating: 3
This short trail takes in nice views of Mt. Baldy, San Antonio Canyon and the Inland Empire. Although it never really escapes the sights and sounds of nearby civilization, it is a nice introduction to the San Antonio Canyon area, and is conveniently located to many Inland Empire residents. It makes a fun outing with the kids on a weekend (although it does tend to get crowded), or a nice little evening hike after work; stretching your legs here surely beats sitting in traffic on the 210 Freeway.
From the parking area near the fire station, head up into the canyon. A somewhat obscure trail follows the canyon’s east wall (you’ll be climbing over rocks) before heading uphill, past the back side of the fire station and up to a viewing platform. Here, you can see Mt. Baldy to the north.
The trail continues, clinging to the side of the canyon, crossing a couple of bridges. There are also interpretive plaques describing the natural history of the area, including its recovery since the 2003 Padua Fire. Stay left at the split and continue along the trail, which continues east for a little ways before heading back. After a slight uphill grade, you descend back to the road on a few switchbacks, arriving at the fire station.
There’s plenty more to check out here; with caution, you can scramble up the rocks of the canyon, or you can walk along the fire road on the south side of the street. It’s also not far to Mt. Baldy Village and the many trails that branch off from there.
The Elfin Forest trail is also known as the Joatngna Trail, which means “Village at the Snowy Mountain.”
Text and photography copyright 2012 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. By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.
Difficulty G Distance 0 to 2 miles Dogs allowed Rating: 1-3 San Gabriel Mountains Season: All year Adventure Angeles National Forest Cardio day trip Elfin Forest Trail Exercise family Fitness Health hiking Inland Empire Joatngna Trail los angeles nature Outdoor San Bernardino San Gabriel Mountains southern california sports Travel vacation walking wellness