Explore the most popular Backpacking trails in San Gabriel Wilderness with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

hiking
blowdown
bridge out
muddy
over grown
rocky
scramble
10 days ago

It's lovely back there. We went right after the rains and there was so much water! But the trail is blown out. Expect 20+ creek crossings down to the campground and lots of scrambling across rocks and fallen trees. You can probably manage to get across the first ten creek crossings without getting your shoes wet if you have good balance. It's relatively easy to track the trail if you just make sure to look up and scan the way. It took us almost 3hrs to get to the campground, going gingerly across the streams. And 2hrs on the way back when we just gave up and sloshed through. All the concentration and scrambling becomes strenuous!

Lots of water after the rains. Water was rapid so washed away most crossings. Not a problem if you don't mind getting your feet/shoes wet. Started hailing when I went 2/17/19.

hiking
snow
1 month ago

Snow covers all the trail. It is awesome.

Loved this little backpacking trip. I took a complete beginner, and he had a blast!

Great campground if you can make it all the way to bear CG. Lots of water in January, but I hear that is gone later in the year so plan accordingly.

Hike can have its steep parts, especially returning after the camp. River crossings, rock scrambling, and log walking to be expected. You can do it without getting your feet wet if careful, but bring extra shoes and socks just in case.

backpacking
1 month ago

I went to camp there, and it was a lovely experience. Will go again some time in the future. :)

Went after a week of rain so the water levels were very high! Definitely recommend poles for all the river crossings. The trail was less well maintained on the way to Bear Canyon campsite and the high water levels made some areas pretty difficult to navigate but made for a very fun hike!

One of my favorites!! Beautiful area ✌️

hiking
2 months ago

Only went 3 miles in to the saddle at Smith Mtn. 1st mile is a bit steep & hovers over the road. Keep going. It's worth it. Lots of birds, a skunk, and few people. Have gone the other direction from West Fork as well. Love it!

Did this hike over two days, the descent down to the river can be tricky, especially with a big pack, as much of the trail is washed out. Didn’t see anyone else for the duration. Saw some bear tracks. Over all good hike.

Only did 7.3 miles total, including the mile from West Fork parking along Cogswell Dam/Devil's Canyon Truck Trail. Really glad I looked at the elevation profile & realized there's a few miles before the hard part. 18 river crossings along the way. A few different microbiomes. Great campground area & other places to stop for a snack, a rest, or just to take in the view. One of our favorites.

One of my favorite hikes, did it roundtrip from the first West Fork parking, went up Bear Creek, past the turnoff aways, then back down to continue the trail up to the saddle, climbed Smith Mt., then on to Hwy. 39 and ran that back to my vehicle. Almost 20 miles total.

backpacking
6 months ago

This has become my go to site. Beautiful hike and over night backpacking. Every time I have gone shared the site with at most 2 more groups and sites are spaced out far enough you really don’t get overlap at all. Be aware of the trail when it turns off the main creek it can be easy to miss, you want to go up the hill before the creek splits. From the fork there is no way to miss the spot. Trail can be tricky in spots depending on the water and time of year. In the winter there can be high water and tricky crossings with rock hopping and once we had to use a fallen tree to cross in the early spring.

switzer “falls” is looking pretty sad about now, but the hike towards bear canyon after switzer falls was pretty shady the whole time and it wasn’t too strenuous. the only tough part about this hike is the short exposed area before getting to switzer falls.

backpacking
7 months ago

Great hike. No water source until about mile 5. Trail can be hard to follow at times. Lots of rock hopping. We only saw one other group of backpackers the whole time. In July the mosquitos were prevalent at night. Overall a fun overnight trip about 45 mins from a main town.

Really great hike with lots of interest along the trail - great views from the canyon rim, beautiful creek crossings, and several small waterfalls on the 8.5 mile trek. Lots of shade makes for a great trail on a warmer day. Bring lots of water (2-3 liters) - about 4 hours round-trip.

Great trail that is well shaded (except for the half mile before Switzer Falls). Recommended when it's hot (was >100* when I hiked this).

The trail to Switzer Falls is well trafficked with a few stream crossings. The water level is very low at the moment, but there is certainly enough to splash around in. There are a few step drop-offs and cliffs along this trail - keep an eye on kids!

Beyond Switzer Falls, the trail is far less maintained, but is still easy to follow. There are around 20 stream crossings between Switzer Falls and Bear Canyon Creek but all are easy - no need to get wet feet!

Bear Canyon Camp has a half dozen spots for a tent, about 3-4 stoves/fire pits and a few picnic tables. Great spot and well shaded. Given the low water level, I wouldn't rely on the water for drinking.

Overall, recommended trail, especially when it's hot given the stream and tree cover.

Great hike!! Beautiful views from the ledge hiking to the second falls. The trail became very rugged past the falls on the Bear Canyon trail with downed tree obstacles from the floods to cross. Certainly a trail worth doing.

This is a nice trail that leads down to a creek. There was water but it was a trickle. Enough to refill my bottle. This trail is more moderate than easy. I would say it is easy for those in better shape and those who hike more often. I did this trail because it was rated easy and I wanted to work on ascending. This was not easy and can be somewhat steep in some places. It was a beautiful hike with fragrant spring blooms. I gave it 4 stars because some people use part of the trail to walk their dogs and leave doggie bags along the trail. Also, bring your own toilet paper as the vaulted toilet at Cooper Canyon didn't have any available.

I went on 3/31/18 and there was a rock slide to traverse, about two dozen creek crossings (~half of them include downed trees/debris from recent flooding). It was a lot of fun, but a little bit more than you might have bargained for!

Great trail! As others have mentioned it is an upside down hike, gradual decline the entire time and of course up the way back. There was plenty of creek crossings through water and the waterfalls had plenty of water. If you traverse up towards the right of the first fall it can be a bit tricky but worth the travel towards the second fall. The majority of the hike is shaded and cool. Highly recommend!

Pros: Shaded (large majority), water crossings (spring time), waterfalls

Cons: Dirty restrooms

Fun route to get down to cooper canyon. The first part of the trail can be either the road or the PCT. I recommend taking the PCT the whole way.

I hiked his trail just after a snow melt and the stream was flowing heavy. The smell of spring was very strong in the air and there were clouds streaming over the mountain tops and a constant cool breeze. Couldn’t have asked for a better day.

Spent the night at bear canyon camp. Beautiful easy hike. If you plan on staying the night, check out the last campsite in the back. The spot where you pitch the tent is on a little drop off with an awesome view of a peak. Watched hawks flying around all day. Loved it.

We were not able to make it to the camp ground. There was a downed tree we managed to get around. Then not to far there was a landslide that completely wiped out the trail. We got over that with difficultly. However the water up ahead washed away the trail and we could not continue forward.

The best part of the trail was the view to the falls. If we did this hike again we would just hike to the falls and then head back.

backpacking
Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Fun backpacking adventure. Finding campground is difficult, we ended up setting up camp at a flat along the river. Lots of rock hopping on the way out.

backpacking
Friday, January 06, 2017

This is an easy trail which also happens to be a segment of the PCT. At the bottom of this trail segment is a falls in the creek that trickles even during the summer in drought years. It is a good place to replenish water if you have a filter. The Cooper Canyon Trail camp is well equipped with pit toilets, picnic tables and stoves. To get down to the falls involves a scramble down the bank with the assistance of an existing rope. A fit person could probably do it without the rope, but some may not be able to do it even with the rope, especially if you have a fear of falling. I did this trail as a Boy Scout backpacking weekend. We also saw families with young children. Its a good easy route.

hiking
9 days ago

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