Guide To Angeles National Forest Hikes
With over 200 trails, there are Angeles National Forest hikes for everyone. Most of Angeles National Forest is within an hour of LA and Orange County, and it feels like you are worlds away. There are mountains over 10,000 feet, waterfalls, incredible views, solitude, pretty much anything you would want from an outdoors area.
Scroll down for tons of tips on visiting Angeles National Forest!
Angeles National Forest Travel Tips
- Roads like SR-2 and SR-39 that go into Angeles National Forest can be closed for winter conditions, rock slides, fires, and accidents. It always makes sense to check out the official CalTrans website before you go; Google Maps doesn’t always route you for the closures. The Angeles Crest Highway Facebook page is also a great source for road conditions.
- Mountain roads are small and windy. Don’t expect to travel fast on them. 30-40mph is a good guide when planning your trip.
- Check the Angeles National Forest alerts web page too. Sometimes you’ll have fire restrictions or planned closures that might not be reflected in the current road closures.
- Local authorities will try to sell you an Adventure Pass to park, but you’re better off buying a National Parks Pass if you ever travel outside of the area.
- There are (formal) campgrounds in Angeles National Forest for RVs and cars. You can reserve them online here.
- You can also camp in the backcountry camps, which are first-come, first-serve. You often have to hike into these; there is no car access.
- You’ll often see Angeles National Forest abbreviated as ANF
Angeles National Forest Hiking Tips
- Always check the weather conditions before you go. The forest is between 1,200 to 10,064 ft, so the conditions can vary. Find a location near where your hike is and go from there. Good resources include the NOAA website, Mountain Forecast, and DarkSky.
- In the winter, check for snow on the trail. All of the hikes I have on this website are safe to do when conditions are normal. When it is winter, some hikes can become mountaineering experiences and are better left for those with lots of experience. Even people with experience die in the mountains of Angeles National Forest every year when the conditions are bad.
- The general condition of trails in Angeles National Forest is pretty good. There are some older trails that aren’t used much anymore, and are effectively impassable. Any guide that I have on HikingGuy will have trails in good condition, and if not, I’ll note that in the guide. If you’re using a map to plan a hike and aren’t sure of the conditions, call the ranger station and ask.
- There are many streams and water sources, but they can easily go dry. In my guides I’ll mention the water situation, but in general, taking 3L of water on your hike is a good idea.
- Most of Angeles National Forest does not have cell phone signal, so carrying a satellite communicator is a good investment.
- Trekking poles are great to have on climbs, descents, and through the brush.
- Insects can be intense in the summer month. Having good insect protection will save you from insanity.
- Don’t worry about animals attacking you.
- There are rattlesnakes when it’s hot out, but they mind their own business. They don’t actively attack humans unless threatened. Watch your footing and if you see one on the trail, give it space and let it pass.
- Mountain lions are rare but do live in Angeles National Forest. There is only one officially recorded attack recorded here in modern times, and it was non-fatal.
- You might see bears around areas with cabins and trash cans, or in the backcountry areas of the park. I’ve spent hundreds of hours in the park, have encountered bears, and have never had a problem. Usually they will be running away from you before you even see them. It is very rare that bear attacks, but it does happen. If you want to prepare for this, bring bear spray . I don’t bring bear spray with me in Angeles National Forest. When I camp I use a bear hang; I don’t bring a bear canister.
- There are beautiful cute furry animals that you can potentially see.
- You can see mule deer all over the area.
- The higher peaks areas have herds of bighorn sheep.
- If you’re out before dawn or camping overnight, you might spot a ringtail cat.
- Then there’s the normal posse of raccoons, rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, etc.
- There are some good forums to ask questions or get info on current conditions.
- SoCal Hiking on Reddit
- SoCal Hikers Group on Facebook (request membership)
- Angeles National Forest Alerts Page
Angeles National Forest FAQ
Is Angeles National Forest Open?
Angeles National Forest is often open but sections occasionally close when there are fires and other conditions. The Angeles National Forest alert page is the best place to check for any closures. The roads in Angeles National Forest are often closed though, so check out the official CalTrans website before you go.
Is Angeles National Forest Safe?
Even though there has been some bad press about gangs using CA-2 as a place to commit crimes, in general Angeles National Forest is very safe. There have only been a handful of murders in the last 20 years, much less than most places in Southern California. If you are scared of being attacked, I recommend bringing bear spray. Far more common are traffic accidents and preventable conditions like heat stroke.
Where is Angeles National Forest?
Angeles National Forest is the big mountain range to the northeast of Los Angeles. You can sometimes see the mountain peaks of Angeles National Forest towering behind Los Angeles on a clear day. You can reach the forest within an hour from Los Angeles.
Where to buy Angeles National Forest Adventure Pass?
First off, I highly recommend buying a National Parks Pass instead, which gets you entry to all the national lands in the USA and only costs a little bit more. Otherwise check this Adventure Pass list for a location near you.
Where to stay in Angeles National Forest?
You can camp in official campgrounds with your car, or hike into the forest and stay at a backcountry camp. You can find motels in Wrightwood, and AirBnb in towns like Mt Baldy and Wrightwood. There are limited cabins rentals at Sturtevant Camp. There are numerous chain hotel options just outside of the forest along the I-210 and I-10 corridor, with Rancho Cucamonga being a good place to stay that’s a quick drive to many hikes.
7.5 miles - Moderate