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Big Dawlton Canyon Trail

Big Dalton Canyon Trail + Coulter Pine Trail

In This Guide
  • Video and Turn-by-Turn Directions for the Big Dalton Canyon Trail
  • Optional Extension to Mt Baldy Views on the Coulter Pines Trail
  • Parking for the Big Dalton Canyon Trail
  • Insider Tips and Recommendations
Total Distance (?)2.2 miles (3.5 km)
Other Options 3.5 with Coulter Pine Return
Hike Time1-1:30 Hours (Total)
Difficulty (?)Easy
Total Ascent (?)200 feet (61m)
Highest Elevation1,400 feet (427m)
Fees & PermitsFree
Dogs AllowedLeashed
Alerts & Closures (?)Big Dalton Canyon Wilderness Park
Park Phone626-914-8200
Weather & ForecastLatest Conditions
Stay SafeCopy this webpage link to the clipobard and share with a friend before you hike. Let them know when to expect you back.
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The Big Dalton Canyon Trail is just about the perfect family-friendly hike. It’s short, shaded, has lots of twists and turns, is picturesque, and follows a shallow stream that kids can safely enjoy. If you want a little bit more of a workout, take the Coulter Pine Trail back, offering epic views of Big Dalton Dam, Mt Baldy, and Big Iron Mountain. It’s a gem of a hike tucked into suburban LA.

Where is the Big Dalton Canyon Trail?

The hike starts in Big Dalton Canyon Wilderness Park, which is run by the City of Glendora. Use this trailhead address:
Big Dalton Canyon Trailhead, Big Dalton Canyon Road, Glendora, CA 91741

Big Dawlton Canyon Trail Directions 3
The trailhead is a short way after turning onto Big Dalton Canyon Road, past this park sign.
Big Dawlton Canyon Trail Directions 4
The parking area is on the right, shortly before arriving at the bridge to the campground. The trail starts across the street from the parking area.

Gear For the Hike

This is an easy hike that you can pretty much do in any type of clothing. Some areas of the trail can be overgrown, so if you don’t like plants on your legs, wear long pants. It can get muddy after rain and there are a few small stream crossings (easy to jump across). In the summer, the trail is well-shaded, but there can also be insects.

Griptightone Gpod Tree

Joby GripTight Smartphone Flexible Tripod
Take your selfie stick game to the next level. Part of the fun of a hike is taking pictures, and a flexible JOBY smartphone tripod takes it to the next level. You can use it as a selfie stick, as a regular tripod, but more importantly, as a flexible tripod that can attach to tree branches and other objects. It’s not expensive, and it’s something you can use when not hiking too.

Latest Price – Amazon

Astro Headlamp

Black Diamond Cosmo 300 Headlamp
If something goes wrong and you get lost, sprain your ankle, or get delayed, you might be caught out after dark. And one of the top items that search and rescue departments recommend you carry is a light. Smartphones can work as flashlights, but that drains the battery quickly. It’s better to invest in a reasonably priced and high-quality headlamp like this Black Diamond. It takes AAA batteries, can last 200 hours, and has an emergency strobe. Carry it with you off the trail to use in emergencies as well.

Latest Price – REI | Amazon

Rei Member Card 2

REI Membership Saves You Money Forever
Have you shopped at REI before? They have all kinds of active clothes and gear, from fitness, to hiking, to snow sports, to casual wear. It’s an overall great place to shop (here’s why) and they offer a $30 membership that gets you 10% back on everything for life, along with frequent coupons, free shipping, discounts, and member-only sales. It’s a no-brainer.

REI Membership – REI

Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated May 2022.

My May 2022 Top Gear Picks

No company pays me to promote or push a product, all the gear you see here is gear I use and recommend. If you click an a link and buy gear, I get a small commission that helps keep the website ad and promotion free. There is no cost to you.

Big Dalton Canyon Trail Maps

Big Dawlton Canyon Trail Directions 2
The trail is generally wide and easy to follow. The second half of the trail can get a little overgrown, but is always easy enough to see.
Click Here To View

Explore Map on CalTopoView a Printable PDF Hike MapDownload the Hike GPX File

If you try to download the GPX file and your browser adds a “.txt” or “.xml” extension to it, simply rename it as a “.gpx” file.

Gaiagps

How Are You Going to Navigate This Hike?
Here’s what I use. If you are a hardcore hiker and/or hike in extreme conditions, I recommend getting a dedicated GPS like a GPSMAP 66sr or 66i, or a wrist-based GPS with maps like the Garmin Fenix 7 or Epix. If you only hike in fair weather and a touchscreen is fine, or just want a solid tool, I highly recommend downloading the smartphone app, Gaia GPS. It’s a piece of cake to use and very powerful, just make sure your phone is in airplane mode so the battery doesn’t drain. You can also check for wildfires, weather, snow, and choose from dozens of map types with a premium membership (HikingGuy readers get a big discount here). Note that I also carry a paper map with me in case the phone dies or gets smashed.

To access this guide when out of cell phone range on the trail, simply save the webpage on your phone ( iPhoneAndroid ).

3D Map

Big Dawlton Canyon Trail 3d Map
The trail follows Big Dalton Creek for about a mile upstream. At the end, you just turn around and come back the way you came. I’ve also included an optional route on the way back (in dark blue here) that has about 400 feet of climbing and offers nice views of Mt Baldy and Dalton Dam.

Can I Hike to Big Dalton Dam?

Unfortunately not. Some guides show a trail going all the way to the dam, but today the trail ends at a parking lot used by a construction team. From that lot, there’s a paved road that’s open for about a half-mile before reaching a gate with “no hikers or bikers allowed” signs. I wish the area were open; perhaps it will be in the future.

Hike Brief

Dalton Hotshots
As you approach the trailhead you’ll pass the Dalton Camp Fire Station, home to the Dalton Hotshots. They were formed in 1953 and originally were based at an old Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp that stood here in the valley. Dalton Hotshots Photo Courtesy USFS

XX Hike Directions

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Video Directions

Turn by Turn Directions

Big Dawlton Canyon Trail Directions 5
The Big Dalton Canyon Trail starts across from the parking area and is well marked.
Big Dawlton Canyon Trail Directions 6
Sometimes you can also find maps in this box.
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You’ll start up a small hill.
Big Dawlton Canyon Trail Directions 8
And quickly make the right turn onto the Big Dalton Canyon Trail. The post in the middle of this shot has the name of the trail on it. You’ll find these trail posts along the whole hike route.
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You’ll cross a small bridge.
Big Dawlton Canyon Trail Directions 10
And then start following Big Dalton Creek.
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When you get to the campground area, go straight along the creek.
Big Dawlton Canyon Trail Directions 13
You’ll pass a small pavilion that you can rent for events, weddings, etc.
Big Dawlton Canyon Trail Directions 12
There’s also a bathroom here, the only one on the hike.
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Continue past the campground area to continue the trail.
Big Dawlton Canyon Trail Directions 15
The trail continues to follow Big Dalton Creek.
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There are a few areas where you can access the creek. Great spots for kids on a hot day.
Big Dawlton Canyon Trail Directions 17
You’ll cross over a large bridge.
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And then across another.
Big Dawlton Canyon Trail Directions 19
Then you arrive at a majestic grove of oak trees. The path continues to the right. The path up to the left goes through the oaks.
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This area is really beautiful, and there is an interpretive display with some info on the oaks.
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At the end of the oak grove, continue straight on this side of the creek.
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From here the trail is more primitive, but still very much there.
Big Dawlton Canyon Trail Directions 23
You’ll have a couple of small stream crossings.
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When you see the fork, go right to visit the mini-falls, a great place for kids. The end of the trail is a short distance up to the left.
Big Dawlton Canyon Trail Directions 25
Here’s the mini-falls.
Big Dawlton Canyon Trail Directions 26
And if you continue a short way, the trail dead-ends at a parking lot. There’s no more trail past this point, just about a half mile of public road. After that it’s all private property owned by LA Waterworks.

Head back the way you came. If you’d like to add the Coulter Pines Trail to the trip back, continue with the directions below.

Coulter Pines Trail Back to the Start

Coulter Pine Trail 1
When you’re hiking back, after you cross the first bridge, look for this exit to the road.
Coulter Pine Trail 2
Make the left, back in the direction you just came from, to find the Dunn Canyon Trail entrance. It’s just past the parking lot on the right.
Coulter Pine Trail 3
Here’s the entrance to the Dunn Canyon Trail. We’ll be taking this up the hill and then joining the Coulter Trail.
Coulter Pine Trail 4
The Dunn Canyon Trail will have about 400 feet of climbing, and it starts right from the beginning.
Coulter Pine Trail 5
As you hike up the canyon, it definitely has a primeval, untouched feel, which you don’t see much of in SoCal. I imagine this is how a good portion of the hidden valleys in the San Dimas Experimental Forest feel.
Coulter Pine Trail 6
When the Dunn Canyon Trail ends, make the right onto the Coulter Pines Trail.
Coulter Pine Trail 7
Continue hiking uphill along the hillside.
Coulter Pine Trail 8
When you get to the t-junction, hike to the right.
Coulter Pine Trail 9
And continue uphill.
Coulter Pine Trail 10
You’ll have some wide switchbacks and some long gradual uphill sections.
Coulter Pine Trail 11
The highlight of this stretch is looking back, where you’ll see (left to right), Big Iron, Pine Mountain, Mt Baldy, and the Big Dalton Dam below.
Coulter Pine Trail 12
Eventually you’ll start the descent back down to the road.
Coulter Pine Trail 13
When you backtrack on the wide switchbacks you’ll get views of Baldy in front of you.
Coulter Pine Trail 14
And as you approach the road, you’ll start to see the Coulter Pines that the trail is named after.
Coulter Pine Trail 15
When you rejoin the road, just hike back down to the parking lot where you started.

This guide last updated on December 19, 2021. Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.

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