Explore the best trails near Sierra Madre with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.
dogs on leash
I will first say, maybe it was because of the time of year, but we didn't see any waterfall. It was a great hike, I wanted a bit of a challenge. Step up from Moderate hikes to Hard hikes. This definitely was hard. I recommend getting going early in the morning because there isn't that much shade on the trail. And if you have trekking poles they will be a huge plus. Apparently we didn't reach the exact end of the trail, we decided to head over to a picnic table at the top and eat our lunch before the trek back down. Again, I don't know if it was because of the time of year, but this was not heavily trafficked. We came across 2 groups of people. I would say this was a lightly trafficked trail. All in all it was a great hike, and a good jump up from our usual hikes.
My favorite day hike in LA so far.
Pros: Lots to see along the way including lots of water and green stuff. Good shade for the majority of the trail.
Cons: Parking. I got to the trailhead at 8:20am on a Saturday and still had to park a mile down the road.
Just got back from hiking this (mid-week in April, the week after Spring Break). Do not follow the AllTrails map above because it isn't accurate. Nor is the elevation. What this map is showing is the 2.4 mile hike (1145 foot elevation loss) down to Valley Forge Campground. But you have to follow SOMETHING because the trail isn't really marked to tell you where to go. After descending the steps at the trailhead at Red Box Picnic area, the trail turns to the left. It's fairly easy to follow for awhile then you'll come to where it crosses the road. Look for the sign toward your right, by the retaining wall of the road. Follow the trail through the old cabin area (we thought cabin 21 looked like something out of a horror movie) and there's a wooden green trail marker next to the left side of the trail that has no markings on it. At about 2.2 miles you'll come to a fork in the trail. The marker says trail or campground. Valley Forge campground is down and to the left. (We thought that was really pretty and quiet. There are several sites and four pit toilets right by the stream. There actually a couple of more "hidden" sites downstream and two more pit toilets. Probably about a dozen campsites total. There were only three other groups occupying the camp while we were there, but we also did this hike mid-week.) To keep going to West Fork...Follow the trail up and to the right at the fork previously mentioned. You'll come to another fork about .2-.4 miles later (if memory serves). It doesn't really tell you which way to go...GO LEFT. From here the trail gets more open-air with less shade and starts to feel "wrong" because you keep going up and away from the water. (We actually stopped and turned around at mile 4 because of this. It seemed like we were headed straight for Mt. Wilson in the distance so I pulled up this AllTrails map, got really confused, and turned back.) Don't despair...according to other maps and some research I did, we should have kept going and would've come to another fork shortly after that. If we had gone left at that fork and kept following the trail, then it would've crossed the road just before getting to West Fork Trail Camp. We'll try again another time, now that we are better informed.
All along the trail is poison oak/ivy to watch out for and some poodle dog brush (which can cause some serious rashes even though it was dying back). There were a lot of gnats, ants, some mosquitoes, and our dog even picked up a tick along the way. It was in the 40's at night but nice (70's) during the day. It was shaded most of the way and we got some nice breezes. We were able to have a nice fire with scavenged fire wood (even though our lighter was out of fuel) but I will bring an axe (and a full lighter) next time. Make sure you have the fire permit. And make sure you have your recreational pass for your parked car.
This is definitely a moderate hike with the elevation gain/loss, all of the "river" crossings (which were really easy for us to cross, despite our heavy packs, given the water level was pretty low in the streams and there were generous amount of rocks to step on), the narrow trail (at times), navigational issues, the plant life to keep an eye out for, all the downed trees to get over/under, etc. But it's really a low traffic trail, has great views, and is a great little escape from the nearby hustle and bustle of LA.
I recorded the trail using Gaia GPS , basically following the path. It turns out it has length 15mile. Despite this, it is a good trail. Be aware of the bugs on the winter creek trail. They are quite annoying if you want to have some rest. A head net will be very helpful.
This is a great workout. The first part of the trail is VERY busy on weekends and if you don't get to the trailhead shortly after the gates open, be prepared to park on the access road and walk up to the trailhead. Cars will end up lined up about a mile down the road. Even if you don't park in the lot you need an adventure pass, so make sure to get one beforehand or at the camp store to the left of the lot to avoid a ticket! After you hike be sure to stop by the store and grab a drink or a burger to support them. The burgers are actually really good too. The trail is very busy for the first section until you reach the falls and then the crowds disappear. Spruce Grove Campground is nicely covered by large trees and well spread out. Its on the hill beside the river so you get the nice calm sound all night while you sleep. After continuing on the hike you'll reach Sturtevant Camp which has a bunch of single room rental cabins and a large communal center which is open on weekends. Theres a big swing so it's a good place to snap some pictures! Continuing on the loop you'll pass the trail up to summit Mt. Wilson and then come to the Mt Zion Summit trail. Its a very short offshoot and the view is totally worth it. It's a challenging but overall fun hike and the last section is all in the sun away from the water so be sure to have enough water. Also lookout for rattle snakes sunning themselves. We encountered about a 3 footer basking on the last section. Happy Hiking!
Great trail but this page is all wrong. There's nearly 2,500 feet of elevation gain and lost, with lots of rolling hills. The trail is really poorly marked and covered with at least 20 downed trees that you have to climb over and under, which is specifically hard while carrying a pack. Carry a filter and a liter of water and you'll be fine (at least right now after all the rain) because you cross running streams a dozen times. The trail is narrow and there is about 40% open air but lots of shade to keep you cool. Valley Forge is the trail at about 2.2 miles where the sign simply points left to "campground" and right points to "trail" so don't go down that way unless you're looking for a pit toilet and some tables to have lunch at. That said, three of us, with a dog took about 3.5 hours to get from the trailhead to West Fork. Of the 7 campsites, 4 others were full aside from ours. On the way out, we split it into two days with an overnight break at Valley Forge campground. They had 4 pit toilets while West Fork only had one. No TP, terrible ventilation but it's better than digging holes. PACK OUT WHAT YOU PACK IN. These trails have no trash cans and people left all sorts of trash at Valley Forge. Lots of great views though.
Johnny L. on Mount Wilson Loop via Chantry Flats