With the London Olympics less than a year away, we’re going for the gold ourselves, without having to cross the Pond. Instead, we’ll cross the San Gabriel River a dozen + times, walking past recreational miners going for their own gold along the way. We’ll even get a bit of heart-stopping sport watching in at our destination, as the weekend bungee jumpers provide live, lunchtime entertainment.
1. About the trail
The highlight of the hike is a regal, arched, white concrete bridge built in 1936 over the East Fork of the San Gabriel River to connect Asuza and Wrightwood. After a great flood in 1938 demolished most of the road, it was never rebuilt and the bridge instead became one of the most popular hiking – vs. driving -- destinations in the Southland. This trail zigzags repeatedly across the river, in the scrub brush along its banks and on a high ridge trail overlooking the river’s plain. There are gorgeous granite walls flanking the plain and crashing cascades below the Bridge itself.
It’s about 10 miles roundtrip (out and back) with 800-ft. elevation gain/loss. We’ll take 6-to-7 hours to complete it, pending how long we hang at the bridge. We’ll plan to be back to our cars between 2 and 3 pm. This is a moderate-level hike for the distance and number of stream crossings, not for elevation. If you haven’t hiked 10 miles in a day recently and want to do this, try to get in a few longer conditioning hikes before the 27th.
2. Things to know
● We’ll be crossing the San Gabriel River (at least 20-ft. wide and 2-to-2-1/2-ft high) many times enroute to the Bridge, probably every 15-to-20 minutes. Expect to get wet at least up to your knees/mid-thighs.
● It’s generally very flat with gradual elevation gain.
● Don’t put anything in your backpack that you don’t want to get wet and/or place everything first in a garbage bag and tie it.
● Dogs are permitted, but we advise against bringing them due to the scrub along the trail and number of stream crossings.
● For safety and timing purposes, we’ve limited the number of participants in this hike and there will be a waiting list. If you RSVP and your plans change, we expect you to cancel as soon as possible – a minimum of two days prior – so those on the waiting list can prepare and plan accordingly. We’ve had a number of last-minute cancellations on limited-capacity hikes before and it’s unacceptable, not to mention rude to your fellow hikers. This hike is popular and done frequently, so you’ll have no problem signing up to attend with another group in the future.
There are many photos and videos of this hike online, so feel free to check them out on YouTube, Flickr and other Meetup sites to get a feel for the hike.
3. What to bring
● Your feet will get wet, and hiking boots can get heavy, so consider tennis shoes or hiking sandals with socks (to keep pebbles at bay). No flip flops.
● Wear lightweight, quick-drying clothes. Shorts are fine, but be aware that in sections the route is thick with spiky-sharp Spanish bayonets, so slacks may help protect your legs
● Swim suit if you want to swim in the pools below the Bridge
● Poles or a walking stick may be helpful, but not essential, for the stream crossings
● At least two liters of water in a camelbak or backpack so your hands can be free
● A light lunch and snacks to share
● Sunscreen and a hat – the trail is fully exposed
● Extra socks and clothes if you want to change after the hike.
● One Adventure Pass per vehicle (You can purchase one online here (http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/sanbernardino/ap/vendors.php) or at any Big 5, REI, Sports Chalet or other locations for $5/day or $30/year
4. Stream Crossing Tips
This late in the summer, the water level in the river probably won’t be very high and the current not very fast moving. But here are a few common sense tips when crossing
● Unbuckle your pack and leave it on (if you stumble you can ditch it fast).
● If there’s much of a current at all, face upstream and shuffle-step sideways (without crossing your feet - right foot out, left meets right; right foot out, left meets right; repeat). Take your time. ● The best use of a walking stick or trekking poles is to probe the water ahead of you, so you can get an idea of what's coming to help you balance (vs. relying on them to assume any weight)
From the 210 or 10 Freeway in Azusa, exit Route 39/Azusa Ave. and head North.
Continue (as the road turns into San Gabriel Canyon Road) for approx. 12 miles north of the 210 Freeway; or 14 miles north of the 10 Freeway. Turn Right at East Fork Road over a bridge.
Five miles past the bridge there will be a very sharp right hand turn onto Glendora Mountain Road. Don’t take it. Instead, turn veer left onto National Forest Road 8W16 (into the Sheep Mountain Wilderness) and continue on it for about 8/10ths of a mile until it ends at the Coyote Flats parking lot. The parking lot may be full even at this early hour. If so, park along the edge of the road leading to the lot, as far off the road as possible.
Display your Adventure Pass on your dash or rearview mirror (one pass per vehicle). We’ll meet at the gate down the service road northeast of the parking lot.
Here’s a map (http://maps.google.com/maps?daddr=34.236641,-117.765284&hl=en&ll=34.164091,-117.90596&spn=0.282371,0.617294&sll=34.235151,-117.763224&sspn=0.044562,0.066175&mra=mift&mrsp=1&sz=14&z=11).
Carpooling : Since this is an extremely- popular destination, we encourage carpooling. Anyone who wants to carpool coming from the West (Valley/Glendale) should meet @ the Park and Ride lot (http://maps.google.com/maps?q=E.+wilson+and+Harvey+Drive+Glendale+CA&hl=en&ll=34.147152,-118.23&spn=0.00156,0.003433&sll=34.147361,-118.230344&sspn=0.00156,0.003433&t=h&z=19) on the Northwest corner of East Wilson and Harvey in Glendale (just south of the 134) at 6 AM. Email Shawn if you’re planning to do this so we’ll know; otherwise, we’ll assume you’ll meet at the trailhead.
Shawn’s mobile: 213/[masked]
The Organizer, Assistant Organizer and event hosts in this group are not professional guides. The function of the organizer is only to organize the trip. Each person who signs up for a trip/meetup/ or outing is responsible for his or her own safety and the safety of his or her guests. By signing up for a hike, or any other event organized by this group, you are acknowledging that you are aware and have made your guests aware of the risks, dangers and hazards associated with any outdoor activity and freely accept and fully assume all such risks, dangers and hazards, and further agree to release and discharge the Organizer, Assistant Organizer and event hosts of this Meetup Group from and against any and all liability arising from your and your guest's participation in the group activities.