Descanso Gardens: Chaparral Nature Trail

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Descanso Gardens

Descanso Gardens: Chaparral Nature Trail is a 2.9 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near La Canada Flintridge, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, running, and nature trips and is accessible year-round.

Distance: 2.9 miles Elevation Gain: 515 feet Route Type: Loop

kid friendly


nature trips





wild flowers


no dogs

The gardens are open from 9am-5pm, with last allowed entry at 4:30pm. Admission fees apply: General - $9 Seniors and Students with ID - $6 Children (5-12) - $4 Descanso members and children under 5 - Free (Most of trail is outside garden and can be done without entering or paying fee)

Great hike with switchbacks, incline. Stay on fire trail. Snakes are out

2 months ago

The map starts you off in the parking lot for the Gardens but then has you exit it and walk down some streets (uphill) to Forest Hill Dr. where there is an entrance to Cherry Canyon Park. Once in the park your on a winding dirt path that soon heads uphill to a short steep section. Not sure if I would call that section "easy". It loops around using the Descanso Motorway and Lateral Trails. Nothing special.

nice late afternoon hike. Avoid dead end on Encinas Dr.

Great loop with awesome views.

mountain biking
7 months ago

I went R and looped all the way around Descanso Gardens and went down the switch backs. Then I went back up to do Liz’s loop. First time riding flat pedals.

8 months ago

I had a nice little stroll on a day when it was free to get in didn't really have an itinerary but after almost two hours I looked at the map that they hand out and I managed to see everything lots of shade the only drawback was the lake wasn't real clean but I think you have to go there at least once

Starts in a residential area. The inclines are not for beginners. Not recommended for young children and definitely not for strollers. Overall I loved it!

Entrance is just past gardens, across from horse trail. About halfway through loop there are lots of breakaway trails to explore. Lots of other entrances to path where those other trails terminate. Trails narrow at that point and more shade than first half, which is where all the elevation gains are.

no shade
Fri May 17 2019

The map illustration is a little weird. By all means park in the parking lot for Descanso Gardens, but no part of the trail is in the gardens. Walk back out the gate, go west on Descanso Drive, and you will see wood posts with trail signs on them pointing west, and then up the start of the trail going counterclockwise. After that, the trail is wide going up, narrower going back down. The last half mile or so back to parking is on paved roads after you exit the trail system via the Forest Hills Gate. On a Friday morning in May, we only saw half a dozen people and one friendly dog.

Fri Mar 29 2019

Skip the part in Descanso Gardens and there is no fee- it's not necessary to enter the gardens, as the actual hiking trail is outside the park. I started on the east side of the trail going clockwise, and ended up running into a locked gate on the northwest part of this route that isn't accounted for on the map- route should be updated to show this, as there is no way through from inside or outside the park. I had to double back and take the left fork. Otherwise, a very nice hike with one pretty steep section that kids might struggle with to be aware of, but lots of amazing views. Very lush and green when I went this March.

beautiful trail! fun loop. the beginning you go through a neighborhood. I went with my 8 year old. he loved it. we couldn't get through on the descanso motorway. the gate was locked to descanso. had to turn back and go to descanso lateral.

Mon Nov 12 2018

There is a fee to enter.

Thu Aug 23 2018

Virtual Hike: Decided to go on this hike last minute after dinner during the last bit of light for the day. Sunset is a perfect time for this trail during the summer, as you get to enjoy pockets of sun and shade, as well as views of sun struck mountains and clouds. I started the trail at the entrance located west of the entrance to Descanso Gardens. The trail is steep at first but then opens up to some easy inclines. Looking down into the valley below you can observe Descanso Gardens, and if you’ve ever been there, it’s a cool perspective to get above everything and see how the whole place is laid out. I caught a great sunset over the city of Montrose near Verdugo Hills Hospital. I only saw one trail runner and a couple out on the trail, so it seems relatively less traveled, but that might have been because it was later in the evening. This is an easy hike that almost anyone could accomplish. Hope you enjoy! Playlist for the trail:

Mon Jan 23 2017

Beautiful garden.

Mon Nov 07 2016

Great place! I bought a pass so I can come here to jog and get away from the city. The fresh air scented with pines is fantastic here!!

bird watching
Mon Jun 29 2015

High elevation climb for small children but an excellent high on a cool day(not much tree cover).

3 months ago

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