George’s Gap to Pines Picnic Area (Angeles National Forest)
- Location: Angeles Crest Highway. From I-210 in La Canada, take the Angeles Crest Highway northeast for 8.3 miles. The George’s Gap Trail Head is a large parking lot on the left side of the road. The trail head is one mile west of Clear Creek Junction (where the Angeles Forest Highway and Angeles Crest Highway meet). 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: 2.8 miles
- Elevation gain: 600 feet
- Suggested time: 1.5 hours
- Difficulty rating: PG
- Best season: October – June
- USGS topo maps: Condor Peak
- Recommended gear: sun hat; insect repellent
- More information: Video describing some of the challenges of the hike post-Station Fire here; Map My Hike report here
- Rating: 6
This short but enjoyable hike has the distinction of being one of the westernmost trails on the Angeles Crest Highway, located only 8 miles from La Canada, making it an easy way to enjoy some nature. The trail is also known as the World of Chaparral Trail; some signage still uses that name and a few interpretive plaques that survived the Station Fire can be found on the route. Thanks to the volunteer efforts of the Trail Legacy Crew, the condition of the trail has improved greatly since the Station Fire and since the video linked above was shot, keep an eye out for poison oak which is prevalent, even on some of the exposed slopes. The bugs can be quite annoying as well. Despite these drawbacks, this hike is well worth a visit.
From George’s Gap, the trail descends on a series of switchbacks. Some of the best views on the hike come right at the beginning, notably Josephine Peak dominating the landscape to the northeast and Strawberry Peak’s distinctive shape in the distance. You also get a nice aerial view of Clear Creek, a tributary of Big Tujunga Creek and namesake for the nearby ranger station and you’ll see your destination, the pines that give the picnic area its name.
At half a mile, the growth becomes thicker although still easily passable. Three quarters of a mile from the start, the trail enters the oak-shaded bottom of Clear Creek. At a junction, stay straight (the left fork heads toward Hoyt Mountain Road, an option if you want to extend the hike.) You’ll cross the Clear Creek stream bed and the trail then ascends, following a ridge between Clear Creek and a smaller tributary.
At 1.2 miles, turn left at a junction and follow the trail around the headwaters of Clear Creek, up some stone steps and into the Pines Picnic Area. Though no longer maintained by the Angeles National Forest, this is an enjoyable spot to sit and relax for a few minutes before heading back to the Angeles Crest Highway.
Text and photography copyright 2015 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.
George’s Gap and Pines Picnic area are currently being restored and maintained by a group of volunteers led by Brenda Beck of Trail Legacy Crew. It is used by the firefighters for their physical training exercises. Thanks to her and her crew’s efforts that it is now open.
Yes, excellent work by Brenda Beck and company, thank you!
Just attempted this hike June 2020. Very overgrown with lots of poison oak! We ended up turning back — if you come, be prepared with long sleeves and pants.
On the plus side, we were the only ones on the trail, so it definitely won’t be crowded.