Sturtevant Falls is one of the more attractive waterfalls in the Southern California area. The moss and algae growing on the cliff where its waters run adds lovely colors to this pleasant 50ft waterfall.
Located in Big Santa Anita Canyon in the foothills of the Angeles National Forest just north of the suburb of Arcadia, it's an extremely popular attraction. Therefore, you may end up having a difficult time either finding parking that's reasonably close to the trailhead or having to walk upwards of an additional 1/4 or 1/2 mile (or more depending on how crowded it is!) after finding a suitable pullout to park the car along the winding road to the trailhead.
The hike can be anywhere from around 3 miles to nearly 4 miles round trip depending on where you park your car (see directions below). Once you're at the Chantry Flat Fire Road gate, you walk downhill along a hot, exposed-to-the-sun, paved road leading right down to creek level in the depths of Big Santa Anita Canyon. Notice I said downhill, which means this trail is kind of an upside-down hike, and therefore, you're going to have to climb back up this paved stretch at the end of your hike.
Once at the base, the pavement gives way to a well-established, forest-shaded dirt trail flanked by cabins built before the area was designated Forest Service land. Many of these cabins looked like they're still in use (even actively inhabited) and have been renovated or have been well kept. Along the creek, you'll find several manmade dams, which I suspect are either for small scale hydroelectricity for the cabins, flood control, or some kind of water diversion. I'm not sure.
After three fairly straight-forward stream crossings, you'll be at the base of the attractive (especially by Southern California standards) Sturtevant Falls. If you like, you can cross the creek one last time to get to a direct look at it. Expect to share this falls with at least twenty to thirty people at a time on weekends. I'm sure on weekdays, it's much quieter. Still, it's somewhat hard to believe that such a getaway could be so close to the city. It's definitely a great way to get good exercise, scenery, and a revitalization of mind and body.
Directions: To arrive at the Chantry Flat Fire Road trailhead, take the 210 Freeway and exit Santa Anita Ave. heading north. Take this road all the way into the foothills to the end of the road where there's a car park, pack station, and the start of the trail itself. You must have a Forest Adventure Pass displayed on your parked vehicle since it's on National Forest land. And given the popularity of this place, we actually witnessed a ranger actively patrolling and writing up tickets for violators who fail to display a pass (something we rarely seen until we did this trail). If you fail to buy one in advance at stores like REI, Sports Chalet, etc., you can purchase one at the pack station by the car park. Finally, we must say that early birds tend to get better parking spots.