Oak Spring Trail to Yerba Buena Ridge
- Location: Western San Gabriel Mountains near the San Fernando Valley. From I-210 in Sunland, take the Foothill Blvd. exit and head northeast (turn right if you’re coming from the east; left if you’re coming from the west.) Take a quick left on Osborne St. and follow it for a total of 3.8 miles (it becomes Little Tujunga Canyon Road along the way). Turn right on Gold Creek Road and go 0.8 miles to a dirt turnout on the left side of the street, a few dozen yards past the signed Oak Spring Trailhead. Trailhead coordinates are N 34 19.133, W 118 20.000. 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, Los Angeles River Ranger District
- Distance: 4.6 miles
- Elevation gain: 1,400 feet
- Suggested time: 2.5 hours
- Difficulty rating: PG-13 (elevation gain, steepness)
- Best season: October – May
- USGS topo map: Sunland
- Recommended gear: hiking poles; insect repellent; sun block; sun hat
- Recommended guidebook: Afoot & Afield Los Angeles County
- More information: Trip reports here and here; Flickr photo gallery here; Everytrail report here
- Rating: 7
This scenic and rigorous hike explores the secluded western corner of the San Gabriel Mountains. In the wake of its post-Station Fire re-opening, it is popular with hikers and trail runners. Just a short distance from the northeast edge of the San Fernando Valley, the Oak Spring Trail offers a welcome escape into nature during the fall, winter and spring months.
From the parking area, cross Gold Creek Road to the signed trailhead and begin your ascent. You start off shaded by oaks but soon enter exposed terrain as the trail switchbacks its way up a ridge. At least you are on a north facing slope so with an early start (recommended) the sun won’t be too intense.
As you climb higher you get a good aerial view down into Little Tujunga Canyon, with the Mendenhall Ridge dominating the landscape toward the north. The trail moves to an eastern slope, meaning more sun exposure, making the steep ascent more draining. However, the grade levels out at about a mile and soon after you reach a saddle with a great view of the Valley to the west.
The trail passes by a solitary tree, crosses a fire break and then drops into a meadow, passing through thick bushes of ceanothus flowers (be careful of bees). You then enter the welcome shade of the Oak Spring Trail Camp (1.3 miles). This makes a good resting spot.
Continuing south, the trail crosses a stream (be careful of poison oak) and enters the exposed hillside again, soon climbing up a steep, sometimes rough, break. At the top you follow the trail through a ridge with more ceanothus–and more bees–enjoying wide-ranging views. Finally you reach a four-way junction with a fire road. Follow it briefly downhill to where the single-track branches off south toward Fascination Spring a mile away (an additional destination if you have time and energy). Here you get excellent views of the Verdugo Mountains; if the air is clear you can see Old Saddleback in Orange County and Catalina Island. To the west, you can see the Santa Susana range and with good visibility the western end of the Santa Monica Mountains.
The hike up to the fire road is a substantial workout, but if you want to extend your trip you can do so either by dropping down to Fascination Spring or following the fire road in either direction.