Big Santa Anita Canyon – Angeles National Forest

Where: Angeles National Forest
Mileage: 9.2 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
Elevation gain: 1800 feet
Recommended: Forest Adventure Pass, Fire Permit

 

To get to the trailhead: Exit Santa Anita Avenue off the 210 Freeway and go North (towards the mountains). Go all the way to the end of the road and look for parking lot at Chantry Flat. Get there early for better parking as I had to park ½ mile down the road. Make sure your Adventure Pass is visible.

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Description:
We finally began on the hike around 10:30am after getting a fire permit at Adams’ Pack Station. Adam’s Pack Station is a family owned business up and running since 1936. Including 80 recreational cabins and Sturtevant Camp. Today, not only is pack service offered, but there is a general store with food and drink and even books and souvenirs. Adventure passes and fire permits are sold here. Click here for more information on Adams’ Pack Station. You can also pick up a free trail map here.

Something to be warned about this trail though is there is plenty of poison oak. Make sure you know what it looks like before you go. When hiking in warmer weather, keep an eye out for rattlesnakes.

We began on Gabrielino Trail and headed to the 55 foot tall Sturtevant Falls. This was a little out of direction of our destination of one of the camps above. I have been here before, but those that were with me have not. It is about 1 ¼ miles from Adams’ Pack Station. Sturtevant Falls is a rewarding short easy morning or afternoon hike. You will hit some water crossings along the way, but all have rocks that you can cross on.

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We retraced our steps back to Roberts Camp and turned onto Lower Winter Creek trail to Spruce Grove Campground. There was a sign that stated “May Your Search Through Nature Lead You to Yourself”. I have to say every time I spend time in nature, it gives me the time to think, the time to just enjoy the beauty of it. The hardest job of the day is getting to the campsite and making food. I recommend time in nature for everyone.

The area is extremely beautiful as you go further on the trail uphill to Spruce Grove. Spruce Grove is about 4 miles from the trailhead. We were about 5 miles in at this point because of our side trip to the falls. Spruce Grove offers several cabins (you can book ahead of time) and campsites that are first com first serve. Not only this, it offers plenty of shade to cool you off on a hot day. We sat down at one of the benches and had our snack before heading on to Hoagees Campground. There are picnic tables, firepits and pit toilets.

We decided to go check out Hoagees Camp. We traversed upward on Lower Zion Trail for about a mile and half until it opened up to the sky. This portion of the trail became very hot as we were out in the open. We had passed by a small trail that took you up to Mt. Zion, but we headed straight down to Hoagees to be able to get a campsite. We climbed 1 ½ miles downhill into the shade and forested green area again. It began to cool down a bit as we hit the sign stating we were 1/8 mile away.

I’ve never seen Hoagees Camp before and well, I would definitely recommend it to anyone who would like a short weekend away from home in the mountains. Hoagees Camp is named after Aire Hoagee who first established it in 1907 by Aire Hoagee. There used to be a building there before it was burnt down in a fire in the 1940s. Hoagees has picnic tables, firepits and pit toilets. It’s really a lovely site that offers over 20 spots. The only vice I had with the place are campsites were too close to each other.

We found a site at the top of the hill and turned out to be just us up there until about 10 pm when a family showed up with a kid who was about 7 years old. No comment on how unready they were for the trip.

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Please make sure you check the weather, check all over to see what you need to take if you are going to sleep overnight in the wilderness. Either way we spent a nice night by the fire with a refreshing drink, some some kolbasz over the fire. Once it hit about 10:30pm it had started sprinkling – we put the fire out with a shovel (they have these hung up on the outside of a small house for use) and headed into our tents for a good night sleep in the rain.

Lucky enough the next morning no one really got that wet. After some breakfast we packed up and headed back down to our cars on Lower Winter Creek Trail. This was only 3 miles and we were back in no time. The weather was misty and rainy, which made the trail back quite enchanting in the forested area of vines, willows and streams; though it was a bit chilly.

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Note to self: Buy a rain cover for my Osprey backpack. New carbon hiking poles worked just right, keep using them on next hikes.

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