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.
- 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
When planning, always check the park website and social media to make sure the trails are open. Similarly, check the weather and road conditions.
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
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.
I waste my time with lousy hiking gear so you don't have to. Only the winners get onto my gear page. There's no fluff, sponsorships, or promotions. It's just gear I personally use, have tested, and recommend. Right now I'm liking my inReach Mini 2, Garmin Epix, and Lone Peak 6 shoes.
My February 2023 Top Gear Picks
Big Dalton Canyon Trail Maps
Guides to Help You Navigate
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.
- Dalton Canyon is named after Henry Dalton, an early homesteader. Dalton was born in London in 1803, made a small fortune in Peru as a trader, which eventually brought him to southern California. In 1843 he settled in the area and started ranching. When the US took California from Mexico in the 1948 war, Dalton became mired in land ownership litigation, and he died in poverty in 1884. Two fun facts: he was also known as Don Enrique Dalton, and he is credited with importing the first honey bees into the US (from Italy) which started the honey industry here.
- Glendora is known as "Pride of the Foothills" (of the San Gabriel Mountains) and you'll be hiking through those foothills during this hike.
- The Big Dalton Dam, a short distance up the road from this hike, is considered an excellent example of a multiple arch "double-wall" buttress design. Whatever that means, it looks cool. It was built in 1929.
- This park sits on the edge of the San Dimas Experimental Forest (SDEF), formed in 1993, is the largest chaparral experimental forest in the United States. The SDEF is closed to the public, but I think you can get a taste of what it feels like if you return on the Dunn Canyon and Coulter Pine Trails. Also, the SDEF was a UNESCO Biosphere Reserves until it withdrew from the program in 2018. If anyone knows why they withdrew, please contact me.
XX Hike Directions
Turn by Turn Directions
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
This Guide Was Written by Cris Hazzard
Hi, I'm Cris Hazzard, aka Hiking Guy, a professional outdoors guide, hiking expert, and author based in Southern California. I created this website to share all the great hikes I do with everyone else out there. This site is different because it gives detailed directions that even the beginning hiker can follow. I also share what hiking gear works and doesn't so you don't waste money. I don't do sponsored or promoted content; I share only the gear recommendations, hikes, and tips that I would with my family and friends. If you like the website and YouTube channel, please support these free guides (I couldn't do it without folks like you!).
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