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Switzer Falls and Bear Canyon Camp via Gabrelino Trail

MODERATE 48 reviews
#3 of 21 trails in

Switzer Falls and Bear Canyon Camp via Gabrelino Trail is a 8.5 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near La Canada Flintridge, California that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October.

DISTANCE
8.5 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,548 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

backpacking

camping

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

bird watching

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

no shade

This is a beautiful hike - it starts off paved and calm with a nice little stream running through it, but soon switches to an off the beaten path adventure. Nice stream crossings as you journey along the bottom to Bear Canyon campground. If you just want to see Switzer Falls, turn left at the bottom of the trail. Beautiful scenery, some rigorous crossings, and at times some irritating bugs. Bring water, lots of it, and a little snack to enjoy at the picnic benches that seem to appear out of nowhere at the campground. Remember you need an adventure pass to access this trail.

hiking
blowdown
bridge out
muddy
over grown
rocky
scramble
13 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!

hiking
1 month ago

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
rocky
scramble
1 month ago

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.

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!

hiking
2 months ago

One of my favorites!! Beautiful area ✌️

backpacking
7 months ago

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.

hiking
8 months ago

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.

hiking
8 months ago

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.

hiking
8 months ago

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.

hiking
11 months ago

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!

hiking
11 months ago

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

backpacking
Monday, March 19, 2018

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.

hiking
Saturday, March 17, 2018

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.

hiking
23 hours ago

hiking
12 days ago

hiking
18 days ago

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