Heaton Flat to Heaton Saddle is a 8.4 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Azusa, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is best used from November until June.
This is one of my favorite areas in the Angeles National Forest. I first discovered it when I hiked the East Fork Trail a few years back (Bridge to Nowhere).
This time, however, I decided to try the Heaton Flat Trail to see what else is out there. I didn't go all the way to Heaton Saddle, though. Instead, I stopped at Bonita Peak (a mile or so before the saddle). The Heaton Flat Trail also goes to Iron Mountain, which is supposed to be a real ass kicker.
The hike to Bonita Peak isn't easy, though. It's a steep climb and has barely any shade. I imagine it's brutal on a hot and sunny day (the recommended months are October to April). Make sure to bring extra water.
The views are incredible. I went on a clear winter day and was able to see numerous peaks and canyons and even Catalina Island. The trail is lightly trafficked and overgrown in parts, but I never lost track of the path.
Next time I'll make sure to go all the way to Heaton Saddle (and eventually to Iron Mountain).
A great hike if you're looking for a good workout, with fewer hikers along the way, and awesome mountain views from up high. My Garmin watch tracked it at 9 miles total (that includes the .5 miles from the parking to where the trail begins ascending). Took 4.5 hours to complete at a steady pace and with 30 minutes of resting.
I've done this trail 3 times, including the time I completed the strenuous Iron Mountain, of which this path is the "easy" first 4 miles of the 7 miles to the peak. I would still rate this as difficult and not a trail I would casually take someone new to hiking or that's not somewhat fit... for that, Bridge to Nowhere is what most people drive here for.
But if you're looking for an uphill challenge that rewards you with scenic feedback the higher you go, try this hike. Be aware that a good portion of the hike is along the ridge and therefore in direct sunlight. I've managed well with 2 liters of water on a cloudier Winter afternoon. Have fun!