Hike Organizer: Paul Kemp
Location: Angeles National Forest
Hike Difficulty: Moderate, 6/10 (not for beginners)
Distance: 8 miles approx.
Elevation Gain: 1,000 feet
Time: 5-6 hours
THIS HIKE INVOLVES BOULDER-HOPPING AND NUMEROUS STREAM CROSSINGS SO PLEASE WEAR APPROPRIATE FOOTWEAR. ALSO, THE PARKING SITUATION AT THE TRAILHEAD IS LIKELY TO BE TIGHT SO CARPOOLING IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED (SEE BELOW).
OVERVIEW: Rugged Bear Canyon, the largest tributary of the Arroyo Seco, is as near to being wilderness as any place in the front range of the San Gabriels. A beautiful stream, with mirror-like pools, cascades, and small waterfalls, graces the canyon bottom. Stately big-cone spruces keep much of the creek in near-perpetual shade. The "Royal Gorge" of the Arroyo Seco contains plunging Switzer Falls and the numerous little pools that dot the shady chasm. This trip descends the Arroyo Seco to its junction with Bear Canyon, with a side-trip to Switzer Falls, and then ascends Bear Canyon to Bear Canyon Trail Camp, set on a spruce-shaded streamside bench about halfway up the canyon.
HIKE DESCRIPTION: The trail begins at Switzer Picnic Area, crosses the bridge and continues down-canyon a mile to Switzer Trail Camp. It then crosses the stream and climbs and then contours along the west slope above the falls. At the next junction the trail to Switzer Falls drops into the gorge of the Arroyo Seco and turns upstream at the creek for 1/4 mile to The falls. The trail to Bear Canyon continues back downstream from the falls following the woodsy gorge past numerous sparkling falls and miniature cascades about a mile to the Bear Canyon junction. Bear Canyon Trail Camp is located around 2 miles up the canyon.
WHAT TO BRING: Make sure that you wear appropriate footwear, bring at least 2 liters of water, snacks to munch along the way, and lunch to eat at the trail camp. In addition, the trail is generally cool and shaded so bring a warm jacket if you tend to get cold easily.
DIRECTIONS TO TRAILHEAD: Drive up the Angeles Crest Highway (Highway 2) 10 miles from La Canada to Switzer Picnic Area. Turn right and descend the hill to the parking lot.
CARPOOL: In La Canada/Flintridge the carpool meeting point is on Angeles Crest Highway (Highway 2) just north of the 210 Freeway on the right hand side at Chehalem Road. Turn right on Milmada and then an immediate left on the slip road, which is still ACH, Chahalem is the next street up. The meeting time is 8.0 a.m.