Switzer Falls and Bear Canyon Camp via Gabrelino Trail

MODERATE 253 reviews
#2 of 17 trails in

Switzer Falls and Bear Canyon Camp via Gabrelino Trail is a 8.5 mile heavily 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

walking

bird watching

running

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
rocky
washed out
4 days ago

hiking
blowdown
muddy
over grown
rocky
scramble
1 month ago

Huge pile of fresh bear crap right in the middle of the trail - someone is trying to send a message. Yes, it's called Bear Canyon for a reason. I would not go back here unless you are willing to stay alert for fall/winter bear activity in the San Gabriels. It is rugged, overgrown, and hard to avoid wet feet with the recent rain and snow. Only saw one large group, and a couple people slipped and fell in the water trying to avoid wet feet, instead they got soaked when it was 45 degrees outside. We had fun sloshing right through.

hiking
bugs
2 months ago

went to Bear Canyon Camp and beyond towards Tom Sloan Saddle. trail beyond camp is overgrown but beautiful.

Beautiful little trail with some nice fall color right now. Saw only two other pairs of hikers on the out and back between the turnoff for the falls and Bear Canyon Campground—the solitude was lovely and a nice counterpoint to the many people on the falls trail. Definitely better early for this reason. Be prepared for an extreme number of gnats the last mile on the way to the campground. Some narrow sections along the cliffs. Overall a lovely, pretty easy hike.

hiking
bugs
3 months ago

Easy wide trail / road, leads to a good trail. Falls are predictably light if it hasn't rained,but the stream is great. Hike from falls to bear canyon camp is lovely except for last little bit and campground which is away from the stream. Overall very enjoyable and highly recommended hike.

trail rough in the body

hiking
bugs
4 months ago

Backpacked in a couple weeks ago, the brush and elevation keep you isolated form the blistering September heat but the knats are unreal right now. However, once you start a fire at camp it should be no problem. Really nice getaway so close to LA!

hiking
4 months ago

Partial hike. Great trail, lots of water and very pretty!

hiking
bugs
no shade
rocky
scramble
4 months ago

In a word - BUGGY!! I applied two different bug sprays and was still swarmed by bugs in the early morning. No bites though. This was my 3rd time down here this year but 1st to Bear Camp. There were only a few groups on the trail by 8am. I ran across 2 racer snakes and 1 unidentifiable grey snake and 1 blue tailed skink. I made it to the first main Falls then up to the 2nd larger falls for my 1st time up that far. Then I headed to Bear Camp. It was quiet on that stretch on the trail. Only a few groups of hikers. The pools with mini falls were wonderful to dip into. I took full advantage there and back of each watering hole. I used my LifeStraw down and back and actually ended up w nearly 2 bottles of ice water when I got to my car. Better over prepared than under. Especially in this hot time of year. I hit the main falls again to cool off before heading out. It was pretty packed by then. Lots of dogs too. It was just too hot for dogs but not my pets. Some folks were smart and wrapped their dogs in wet T-shirts before the walk out. While I was at the 2nd Falls I saw folks at the top of that falls. I presume they came down in there behind the old ruins before the exposed canyon wall section. Always be extra careful back there. A hiker died the following day falling from one of those falls areas. I hauled out of there passing some vomits on the hot exposed section of canyon. I timed it and was only in that section 11min so that was fine. If you’re fit and used to trail running or frequent hiking this should be no problem to traverse quickly to limit sun exposure. Once back at the day camp parking area it was crazy how many holiday wknd visitors were occupying the camp ground. Each picnic area was like 30 deep. Vultures swarming as I pulled from my fantastic parking spot. Lots of trash on the trail unfortunately.

hiking
bugs
4 months ago

Shaded for most of hike. Cute falls. Lots of bugs!

hiking
5 months ago

very enjoyable hike with a waterfall. plenty of shade. the trail to bear canyon can be a challenge to see as you get close to bear canyon camp. the Switzer part of the trail was very crowded on the Sunday I hiked. lots of snakes. I saw two Rattlers, another with long stripes, and two others swimming in the pools.

Great hike today. The weather was very good for this time of summer. This is an all around good hike. Lots of shade for most of the way through the canyon. Not to strenuous but just enough. We ended up doing a bit of running our way back. Thought there would be a more difficult elevation gain but it felt easier than I expected it to.

hiking
5 months ago

I hike here all the time and often times bring my 7 year old daughter. She loves this trail!

We were there today 8:00am-1:00pm and no biting flies found. Maybe a couple of weak attempts, but nothing even close to "very uncomfortable". Used regular insect repellent. Hike is very nice, several places to swim, a lot of shade.

hiking
bugs
6 months ago

Previous review about biting flies is true. Ran into a rattlesnake along the trail too luckily no bears. Beautiful views but the biting flies knocked it down a star for me.

Great trail with stunning views of the mountains that leads down to a refreshing swimming hole.

hiking
7 months ago

Trail is very well maintained! However, at Bear Canyon there are giant swarms of horseflies / biting flies of some sort!! Very uncomfortable. Planned on resting at the camp for a bit but decided to hike back immediately because the biting flies were so many. Another hiker suggested summer season may not be best for the bear canyon camp hike due to biting flies. Also ran into a bear on the hike back.

7 months ago

This is a beautiful trail featuring flowing water (as of now), plenty of shade, and gorgeous mountains. There are plenty of creek crossings, so bring your balance. I made it just fine in some ventilated shoes and dry wicking socks with only a toe dipping in that dried up before the next creek crossing.

hiking
7 months ago

Great hike! Beautiful trail that runs along several water crossings and a couple small waterfalls. Went solo and took about 3 hours. Be prepared to get wet if you don’t have waterproof footwear. Also there are two lots to park in. The bottom campsite lot gets full during busy hours so be prepared to had an extra 0.5-1 miles to your journey if you can’t find a spot.

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