Gabrielino Trail Nrt Hike

Gabrielino Trail (NRT) Guide

In This Guide
  • Planning a Hike or Backpack on the Gabrielino Trail
  • Choosing a Campsite
  • Gabrielino Trail Trail Maps & Advice
  • Gear For the Hike
  • Turn by Turn Hike Directions & Hike Video (both directions)
Distance28.8 miles (46.4 km)
Hike Time13-15 Hours (Total)
Difficulty (?)Hard
Total Ascent (?)6,500 feet (1981m)
Highest Elevation4,635 feet (1413m)
Fees & PermitsParking Fee at Chantry Flat
Dog FriendlyLeashed
Park WebsiteAngeles National Forest
Park Phone626-574-1613
Stay In Touch - - -

Stretching 28.8 miles through the heart of Angeles National Forest, the Gabrielino Trail covers not only some of the most popular areas, but also some of the most remote. And not only is it a beautiful hike, but it’s also got historical significance. The Gabrielino Trail was chosen as  the nation’s first National Recreation Trail (NRT) in 1970 because it “represents its region, supports a diverse community, and is among Americas best trails.” Some sections of the Gabrielino Trail were in sad shape (and impassable) until August 2018 when local mountain bikers led a restoration effort that reopened this iconic trail once again. Today you can enjoy the Gabrielino Trail as a backpacking trip or an ambitious day hike. Keep reading for all the details.

Planning Your Trip on the Gabrielino NRT

Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 51
There are some really sweet spots to camp on this hike. Here I am tucked into a campsite at West Fork Trail Camp. On the day that I shot this photo I had the entire camp to myself (a Thursday night in early September). The three trail camps in the middle of the route are pretty remote.

Since the Gabrielino NRT is a point-to-point hike, there’s some planning involved unless you want to do it as an out-and-back trip. There’s no “this is the best way” to do the hike, although when the hike was first announced it was described in an east to west fashion. But it really just depends on your time, logistics, and preferred camping spot if you’re doing it overnight. Here are the popular options.

Camping Along Gabrielino Trail
If you do the Gabrielino Trail as a backpacking trip, here are your main options for camping.

If you’re new to backpacking, this “Angeles National Forest through-hike” is a great starter trip. There’s good camping, gentle conditions, and generally lots of water along the route.

I don’t recommend staying at the Gould Mesa Campground. It can be noisy and popular with people who want “to party.”

Oakwilde Trail Camp is closed and mostly gone.

How to Get to the Gabrielino Trail

The Gabrielino Trail has two ends, the east end of the trail is at Chantry Flat, a popular trailhead for the hike to Mt Wilson. Chantry Flat is technically open from 6am to 8pm, and when it’s closed, the gate to the area is closed so you can’t drive in and out. In reality the gate opens a little earlier most of the time, but it’s not guaranteed. You need a National Parks Pass or Adventure Pass to park at Chantry Flat, and the lot fills up quickly. You can park overnight here as long as you display your pass (and know that you’re locked in while the gate is closed).

East Trailhead:
Chantry Flat, Chantry Flats Rd, Arcadia, CA 91006

Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 1
The parking lot at Chantry Flat is big but fills up quickly. It does empty out by late afternoon so if your leaving later you should be okay.

There’s usually no cell service at Chantry Flat so it doesn’t make for a good place to get an Uber.

The western terminus of the trail is in Altadena, and the parking lot closest to the trailhead is the Windsor Blvd Bike Trailhead Parking Lot, which is used mainly by fitness folks and mountain bikers using the Gabrielino Trail, but it is open to everyone. The status of overnight parking here is murky. I’ve been on the phone with multiple local officials and have gotten multiple answers including “I don’t know.” Fair enough. I’ve parked here overnight several times without any problem. If you’re paranoid, you can pick up an inexpensive overnight parking permit online and give that a try.

West Trailhead:
2755 N Windsor Ave, Altadena, CA 91001

If you want to do this hike solo point-to-point, you can park at the west trailhead in Altadena, Uber or Lyft to Chantry Flat, and hike back westward.

Gear For the Hike

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If you’re doing this hike in the summer, having one of these silly head nets to keep bugs away will save you from certain insanity.

There’s a couple of things to be aware of.

Don’t forget your free campfire permit. You need it for portable camping stoves too.

Gregory Optic 48 Pack

I use the Gregory Optic 48 Pack as my goto backpack for longer hikes. It’s easiest the most comfortable big backpack I’ve ever owned. It’s actually just as light as my day pack, but bigger. I don’t use it for day hikes because it’s too floppy when mostly empty, but once I have some gear in there, it’s great.

Rei Co Op Quarter Dome 1 Tent

The REI Co-op Quarter Dome 1 Tent is a super-light, free-standing, dead-simple tent. I take the tent components out of the bag and put them in my backpack individually, and it packs down to nothing. No big tent back in my pack. It’s almost half the weight of similar tents, easy to set up, relatively inexpensive, and durable.

Garmin Inreach Mini Beacon

If you’re not familiar with the Garmin InReach technology, it allows you to send and receive text messages where you don’t have cell phone signals. You can also get weather reports and trigger an SOS to emergency responders. Even if you don’t have an emergency, sending a quick message telling a loved one that you’re okay or are running late is well worth the cost. The Mini fits in your palm and weighs next to nothing. Read my review and see the lowest prices and reviews at REI.

Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend.See All of My Best Gear Picks Here

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 offset website expenses. There is no cost to you.

Water on the Trail

Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 27
The Gabrielino covers a few watersheds and there are numerous places to fill up. This is the Arroyo Seco at Switzer Picnic Area. It’s not a torrent but you can get water here.

Let me first start out with a disclaimer: the water levels vary. I’ll give you a list of areas where you can usually refill, but I would check with the ranger station or local sources before you go. In the spring there is usually a lot of water, and then later in the fall not so much. Red Box Picnic area has a spigot and is really the only reliable spot for water, but luckily it’s about half-way. They can also turn it off when conditions are below freezing. So again, check with the rangers. Here are the sections where there is usually water.

There are small streams along the way, but consider this list a guide to the major landmarks with water.

Gabrielino Trail (Gabrielino NRT) Trail Maps

If you want a nice overview map of the hike and area, the National Geographic map of Angeles National Forest is a good one to have with you as you do the hike. You’ll be able to ID the peaks around you and see other trail options in case of an emergency.

Click To View Map

Gabrielino Trail (NRT) Guide Map Downloads

Download the Hike GPX File

View a Printable PDF Hike Map

Fenix 6 Pro

I’m a big fan of GPS watches to follow my GPX track (which I also use as a sleep, wellness, and fitness tracker) and my current watch is the Fenix 6 Pro Solar (full review here). I load my GPX tracks onto the watch to make sure I’m in the right place, and if not, the onboard topo maps allow me to navigate on the fly. It’s pricey but it has a great battery, accurate GPS, and tons of functionality. If you want something similar without the maps and big price tag, check out the Garmin Instinct which is a great buy and does a lot of the same things.

Gabrielino Trail Elevation

Gabrielino Trail Hike Elevation
From east to west: you start by climbing from Chantry Flat up to Newcomb Pass, then a descent to Devore Trail Camp, then back uphill until you reach the highest point on the trail, Red Box Gap, from there it’s a long downhill until just after Switzer Falls, where there’s a gentle climb, and then a long downhill to the end with one small (and painful) bump before you reach the Paul Little Picnic Area junction.
Gabrielino Trail Gabrielino Nrt Hike 3d Map
It helps to look at the route from the other side on this 3d map. You climb up to Newcomb Pass along the West Fork, then down a bit, then up to Red Box Gap in the middle of Angeles Forest. From there you wind your way back down along the Arroyo Seco to Altadena.

Gabrielino Trail Landmarks East to West

LandmarkMileDist From LastElevation
Chantry Flat002140
Spruce Camp2.92.93000
Newcomb Pass5.22.34114
Devore Trail Camp6.61.42890
West Fork Trail Camp7.81.23090
Valley Forge Turnoff10.833570
Red Box Picnic Area132.24635
Dispersed Camping15.62.63780
Switzer Picnic Area171.43320
Oakwilde Camp (gone)2251820
Paul Little Junction23.61.61660
Gould Mesa Camp26.22.61410
West Trailhead28.82.61170

Gabrielino Trail Landmarks West to East

LandmarkMileDistanceElevation
West Trailhead001170
Gould Mesa Camp2.62.61410
Paul Little Junction5.22.61660
Oakwilde Camp (gone)6.81.61820
Switzer Picnic Area11.853320
Dispersed Camping13.21.43780
Red Box Picnic Area15.82.64635
Valley Forge Turnoff182.23570
West Fork Trail Camp2133090
Devore Trail Camp22.21.22890
Newcomb Pass23.61.44114
Spruce Camp25.92.33000
Chantry Flat28.82.92140

What’s a NRT and Why is the Gabrielino NRT So Special?

National Trails Act
The National Trails Systems Act of 1986 paved the way for national recognition (and support) on trails like the Gabrielino. One of the main proponents of the act was John Saylor, a conservationist in congress who was dubbed “St. John” by environmental advocates for his work. Today he has a trail named after him which is pretty cool.

You might see the monikers Gabrielino Trail and Gabrielino NRT thrown around in different places, but they both refer to the same place. The Gabrielino Trail is actually a National Recreation Trail (NRT). In fact, it was the first National Recreation Trail ever created (created for “hikers and horseman”), and it’s been around since May 20, 1970.

The NRT designation comes from the National Trails System Act of 1968 which was enacted “to promote the preservation of, public access to, travel within, and enjoyment and appreciation of the open-air, outdoor areas and historic resources of the Nation.” When it was enacted in 1968 it also officially created the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and Appalachian Trail (AT). Those trails are designated as “National Scenic Trails” which offer “spectacular natural beauty and allow the pursuit of healthy outdoor recreation.”

NRT trails are different that Scenic Trail in that they tend to be shorter and focus on a specific region.  “National Recreation Trails recognize existing trails that connect people to local resources and improve their quality of life” according to the National Parks Service. Organizations can nominate trails to become NRTs, which then gives the trail recognition, assistance, and maybe some funding. Other NRT trails that you might know include the Tahoe Rim Trail and Lost Coast Trail.

Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 106
There’s a cool Gabrielino NRT logo at the trailhead in Altadena. If you do the hike, don’t forget to grab a picture with it. It’s the only one around.

But the Gabrielino Trail, running through the heart of Angeles National Forest, was the first of these National Recreation Trails. When the Gabrielino NRT was created, Congress stipulated that it should be reasonably accessible from urban areas, hence the Altadena trailhead. There were also plans to have it join up with the PCT. But in a lot of ways the Gabrielino Trail been left behind by the more glamorous NRTs out there (like the ones I just mentioned). The official NRT webpage for the Gabrielino just includes a sad  picture of the Chantry Flat toilet.

I wasn’t around in the 1970s and 80s when the Gabrielino NRT was relatively new, but from my conversations with old-timers, the trail was “lightly used” in the 90s and 00s with lots of downed trees, rockslides, and other tough sections. The Station Fire of 2009 and subsequent big El Niño rains were the death knell of the trail and it finally “closed” in 2009.

Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 15
There used to be markers on the trail with the Gabrielino NRT emblem in various places (like this post), but they’ve been stolen over the years. You see this with the PCT too. Trails would be so great if it weren’t for people.

Fast forward to 2016 when volunteers started working with the Forest Service to find a plan to fix and reopen the trail. REI and SoCal Edison donated money to hire professional trail builders to tackle the tricky sections, but the majority of work was done by volunteers. The Mount Wilson Bicycling Association (MWBA) organized 102 volunteers on 283 volunteer days, and they performed over 1,900 hours of work to finally open the trail once again in August of 2018. The partnership between the Forest Service, local volunteers, and benefactors like REI is now considered a model for other similar trail restorations.

“This project couldn’t have been done without the hard work and incredible dedication of our volunteers,” said Fabian Garcia, Partnership Coordinator for the Angeles National Forest. ”Our ANF volunteer organizations set a high bar of collaboration and excellence. The Gabrielino Trail Restoration Project is a perfect example of both.”

Gabrielino Hike Brief

Gabrielino NRT Hike Directions

I have the bulk of the information on the hike in the westbound section, including some historical background to the different sites. If you are looking for eastbound directions, I have them below, but I recommend reading the westbound section as well for more context.

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Hike Directions Video

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Hike Directions East to West (Chantry Flat to Altadena)

Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 3
The hike starts at the popular Chantry Flat Recreation Area. Don’t forget to leave a parking pass in your car.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 2
There are primitive (and usually filthy) toilets at the trailhead.
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The trail starts at the gate right before the parking area.
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The first trail sign that you see confirms that you’re on the Gabrielino Trail, which is a good thing. Take the distances on these signs with a grain of salt and use them as a rough guide. They’re usually not 100% accurate.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 6
At the bottom of the hill on the paved section, hike over the bridge.
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Once over the bridge you’ll be at a major trail junction. We’re heading toward Spruce Grove Trail Camp.
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The trail exits out the far side of the junction. There’s toilets here too.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 9
Once you leave the junction, keep your eyes open on the right for this commemoration of an equestrian ride on the Gabrielino.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 10
After gently climbing up through an area with (actively used) cabins, make this hard left.
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Once you turn left, you’re presented with two options to continue on the trail. I recommend the Lower Gabrielino Trail to the right and through the boulders.
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Here’s a closeup of the sign at that junction.
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The trail climbs up past Sturtevant Falls and through the forest. It’s a really pretty stretch.
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At the Falling Sign trail junction, make the hard right.
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Hike through the Cascade Picnic Area to the right and keep climbing.
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Soon you’ll reach Spruce Grove Trail Camp.It’s nice here but is fairly popular, especially on weekends.
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There are seven official campsites at Spruce Grove, first come, first serve. There is a stream next to the camp that usually has water until later in the season.
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Some of the campsites have old wood-burning stoves.
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There are primitive toilets at Spruce Grove. Continue hiking through the campsite.
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Here’s the junction that takes you away from the well worn path that many take to Mt Wilson and onto the more primitive sections of the Gabrielino Trail. At the junction after Spruce Grove, make the right and climb out of Santa Anita Canyon towards Newcomb Pass.
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Here’s a closeup of the sign at that junction.
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While this part of the Gabrielino Trail sees much less traffic than the section that you were on before, it’s still relatively easy to follow. There are some sections that are mildly overgrown, and there’s a downed tree here and there, but nothing major or impassable.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 24
Soon you’ll break out of the trees and get some great views into Angeles National Forest. In the distance is Twin Peaks.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 25
After a healthy climb you’ll reach Newcomb Pass.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 26
Newcomb Pass, at 4,115 feet, is the highest point you’ll be at for a while. From here it’s mainly downhill until West Fork Trail Camp, then uphill to Red Box Gap from there.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 27
There are some picnic benches where you can grab a snack.
Newcomb Pass
The Gabrielino Trail goes straight through Newcomb Pass. To the left is the Rim Trail to Mt Wilson, and to the right is Newcomb Pass Road, which connects with Rincon Red Box Road. There’s also allegedly a helipad on Newcomb Pass Road in case you needed to coordinate an evacuation.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 28
Here’s a trail sign at Newcomb Pass. The Rim Trail is one of the least-used routes up to Mt Wilson, and is quite nice: not too steep and very quiet. Put it on your list for another day.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 29
Once you’ve had your fill of Newcomb Pass, head straight out the other side and start your descent to Devore Trail Camp.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 30
The trail is remote but again, surprisingly easy to follow.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 31
Given the remoteness, there are some downed trees and washouts. Everything is crossable with a small climb or crawl.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 32
When you get to the junction of the Rincon Red Box Road, make the left onto the road.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 33
After a minute or two on the road, look for the trail bearing off to the right.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 34
This shot gives you an idea of the condition of the trail. Again, primitive but easy to follow.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 35
The trail descends along ridges and switchbacks, dropping about 1,200 feet in 1.5 miles.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 36
Soon you’ll arrive in Devore Trail Camp, one of the most remote camps around. It’s named after the Devore family who opened resorts in the area in the early 1900s.

The Devore name has a long history in this part of Angeles National Forest. In 1910 Ernest and Cherie DeVore had their honeymoon here in the forest. A few years later with land leased from the Forest Service, they opened the 10-acre Camp West Fork, and then a second resort constructed upstream, Valley Forge Lodge, on five acres. Up until 1993 their son, Keyon Devore, dubbed “Mr. San Gabriel Mountains” worked for the Forest Service and in his later years helped visitors at Chantry Flat. Today the trail camps here pay tribute to their presence.

Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 37
There’s a small stream and six first-come, first-serve free campsites at Devore Trail Camp. There are no toilets here.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 38
There are a few picnic benches at the campground as well.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 39
Continue out the back of Devore to follow the trail.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 40
This next section is some of the most primitive on the route. There are several stream crossings as the trail criss-crosses over the West Fork of the San Gabriel River. Use your GPS, take your time, and look in all directions when the trail twists and turns. Right after Devore make the hard right to cross the river.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 41
The crossings are not too bad, but in the spring can be a little tougher. Having trekking poles helps pick your way across them.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 42
There are some really beautiful stretches of trail on this section.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 43
Some of the stream crossings can be tricky, keep your eyes open for breaks in the brush on the other side for the best way across.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 44
After a wide and flat river crossing, you’ll see West Fork Trail Camp at the top of the hill.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 45
The West Fork Trail Camp area is spread out and there are 7 sites around the area.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 46
There are picnic benches and flat areas for tents.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 47
There is also a primitive toilet here. The campground connects with the Rincon Red Box Road. There’s also a junction for the Silver Moccasin Trail here.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 49
Some of the campsites are on the ruins of the old resort.
Camp West Fork Ad
Here’s an ad for Camp West Fork from a June 1920 LA Times.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 48
The trail continues out the backside of the camp.
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Here’s the westbound trailhead at West Fork Trail Camp.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 55
The trail is easy to follow and used more often than the last section (by hikers coming down from Red Box). You start to really climb again here.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 56
At the intersection with the Keynon-Devore Trail, make the right to continue on the Gabrielino Trail.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 57
Here’s a closeup of the sign at that junction. You can take the Keyon-Devore Trail to the summit of Mt Wilson.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 58
The trail continues to climb and crosses a few streams feeding the West Fork.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 59
At the next junction, continue straight.
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Here’s a closeup of the sign at the last junction. The trail to the right is the Valley Forge Trail to the Eaton Saddle trailhead. You don’t take this trail to reach the campground though, keep going straight as specified in the last image.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 61
Shortly after the last junction you’ll see a junction to the right which goes to the Valley Forge Trail Camp. Continue straight to keep hiking on the Gabrielino.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 62
Here’s the trail junction to the Valley Forge Trail Camp up close. It’s a few minutes down the trail to the grassy camp. Look for a bridge over the stream for a “secret” camping spot.

Valley Forge Lodge was known as “the Gateway to the Wild” in the 1920s . It was advertised as “a pleasant picture for a city-dweller looking for a change” and featured cowboy dances, trout fishing, a library, and food.  The Great Flood of 1938 destroyed all but the main building, which was then turned into a Long Beach YMCA camp called “Kamp Kole” which then burnt down in 1949. Today it’s a primitive campground.

Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 63
Continue hiking, passing through an area with private cabins.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 65
The trail climbs up toward Red Box and is in great shape.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 66
You’ll pass a (broken) sign pointing to the Valley Forge Camp.
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Pass over the Rincon Red Box Road one last time.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 68
After a short exposed section, you’ll reach the stairs up to Red Box Picnic Area.
Red Box Picnic Area
The Red Box Picnic Area can be a little tricky. When you clear the stairs, just walk across the lot to the far side to continue the hike. There are toilets in the parking lot.

Red Box Gap is a gateway to the trails of the area. It’s also popular with motorists; the picnic area has views that stretch to Mt Baldy. Red Box got it’s name just before 1920 when the Forest Service built a red box here to store firefighting equipment. At that time there were only trails, no roads. The Angeles Crest Highway was completed in 1934, and the red box is now long gone. But there is a payphone, bathrooms, the Haramokngna American Indian Cultural Center which has snacks when open, and a reliable water source.

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The water spigot hides behind this wall next to the cultural center.
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The water here is reliable. Red Box Gap gets about 40 inches of rain a year, almost 3 times the normal average for the rest of LA.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 72
When you’ve had your fill of Red Box Picnic Area, get back on the Gabrielino Tral at the far end of the parking lot. You have a nice long descent ahead of you.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 73
Here’s a closeup of the trail sign at the parking lot trailhead.
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This stretch of trail is exposed and follows the highway down towards Switzers. Unfortunately you can hear traffic news, but you do get nice views of the peaks and Arroyo Seco valley. Watch out for mountain bikes coming down from Red Box.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 75
If you are camping in a dispersed area, there are some decent flat patches on this stretch between Red Box and Switzers.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 76
After a long descent you’ll start seeing picnic benches and old interpretive signs at Switzer Rest Area
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Cross over the concrete spillway to the parking lot and toilets. There are toilets on either end of the parking lot. It’s a popular spot and their condition can be nasty, so heads up.
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Walk to the far end of the parking lots and look for the Gabrielino Trail off to the left.
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Here’s the sign right after that last image, confirming that you’re still on the Gabriellino Trail.

I have a guide on the hike to Switzer’s Falls that has more in-depth coverage of this part of the trail if you’d like to check it out. It also includes the section down the falls (which leads to Bear Canyon Trail Camp),

Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 80
There are several stream crossings on this stretch, but they are all easy to navigate unless the Arroyo Seco is really flowing.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 81
As you descend the trail you’ll come to the old ruins of Swizter-Land, another big resort along this popular route. You can still see the wood-burning stoves here. In a pinch you could camp here as well. See my guide on Switzer Falls for some more history and how to spot the cliffside chapel ruins. Otherwise continue to the right past the ruins.
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Once past the ruins start heading uphill, avoiding the small downhill trail which leads to the upper falls.
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The trail becomes exposed and has some incredible views into Bear Canyon, carved by the Arroyo Seco. At the first junction, keep right. Heading left brings you down to the falls and then to Bear Canyon campground.
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Here’s a closeup of the sign at that junction.
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Enjoy the expansive views as you start to head toward Altadena. This stretch of trail was the main route to Switzer-Land before it became the Gabrielino Trail. Guests would walk and pack mules would bring in supplies along the trail you are on now.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 86
Once you start the downhill portion on this stretch, there are some overgrown areas but the trail is always pretty easy to find. Somehow mountain bikes make it through here, so you can too.
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The trail levels out when you start to get near the Arroyo Seco. Anyone have any idea what these metal frames were used for?
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Mule deer! I almost always see some deer around Oakwilde; keep your eyes open.
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The trail makes its way down to the banks of the Arroyo Seco.
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Make the sharp right at the Ken Burton Trail junction and head down to the Arroyo Seco bed.
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The next stretch follows the bed of the Arroyo Seco and can be challenging to follow. My advice is to look for mountain bike tracks and footprints, and cross-check with your GPS.

The Oakwilde Trail Camp is across the Arroyo Seco close to the area where the trail spills out to the river bed. If you want to explore the ruins, you need to leave the trail and cross to the other side. Some maps show the trail going through the camp but that’s not the case anymore.

Oakwilde Ruin Area

There was actually a road to this point until the flood of 1938 wiped it out. The Oakwilde campground was the location of the Oak Wilde Resort, another popular wilderness resort in the Great Hiking Era of LA. There are remnants of an old trail/CCC road from Oakwilde straight up the slopes to Angeles Crest Highway. The lower road is washed away (now just a trail) but as you get higher you’ll reach the “road road.”

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After about a half a mile in the river bed, the trail will leave the wash to the east (left if you’re heading down the trail).
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One last little steep uphill and then all the climbing is over. Whenever I do the Gabrielino Trail as a day hike, this part really hurts.
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At the top of the last little climb you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views, and the waterfall / debris dam / manmade dam will be down to your right as you descend,
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This is your last downhill section and it will feel great. The trail is steep and has switchbacks.
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At the bottom of the climb you’ll reach the turnoff for the Paul Little Picnic Area. Make the left to continue.
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From here on out the trail is flat with only a few (easy) stream crossings to navigate.
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There are also a number of bridges that cross the river. Just stay straight on the main road and you’re good.
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Go straight past the Nino Picnic Area.
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Soon after that you’ll reach Gold Mesa Campground. The trail becomes a road from now on and you might see a decent amount of folks jogging, riding bikes,shotgunning beers, or getting high.
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Gould Mesa Campground has some toilets and picnic benches.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 102
Continue straight as the trail becomes paved and crosses some bridges. There are some side roads but you just want to stay straight.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 103
Towards the end of the hike you’ll come out at the Jet Propulsion Labs, which will be to your right. You want to go straight through the (street) intersection and continue on the paved road.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 104
Right after that intersection there’s a trail sign that says Gabrielino Trail and can be a little confusing. Stay straight on the paved road, don’t go up this dirt trail.
Gabrielino Trail Westbound Directions 105
After a short stretch on the pavement, you’ll reach the end of the trail at the gate. Don’t forget to get your photo with the Gabrielino NRT logo by the trailhead.
Gabrielino West Trailhead Map
The parking lot is just across the intersection from the trailhead.

Hike Directions West to East (Altadena to Chantry Flat)

Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 2
The Altadena trailhead is at this gate, across the intersection from the Windsor parking lot.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 3
You’ll see a trail sign here marking the beginning of the Gabrielino NRT. There’s also a sign here with the official logo, the only one on the hike.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 4
Head up the paved road, and cross the road intersection by JPL.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 5
Avoid the trail to the right as you cross through the intersection. You want to go straight on the paved road.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 6
You’ll pass over a series of bridges as the road winds peacefully up along the Arroyo Seco.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 7
Bear left at this junction with Lower Brown Mountain Road.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 8
The road is paved and switches to dirt after a while. Until 1938 there was a road all the way to Oakwilde Camp.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 9
Pass Gould Mesa Campground and continue straight.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 10
Continue straight. The road to the left goes up to Angeles Crest Highway.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 11
Pass the Nino Picnic Area and hike straight.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 12
Now the trail becomes “a trail” and makes it’s way up the flat landscape.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 13
There are a few stream crossings that can be deeper in the spring or after a rain, but are otherwise easy to cross.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 14
When you reach the sign for the Paul Little Picnic Area, make the hard right and start the climb. Now the work begins…
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 15
The trail is easy to follow as it climbs out of the valley.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 16
After a short downhill section the trail spills out onto the bed of the Arroyo Seco. Make the right and head up along the river bed. Having a GPS and GPX track helps on this stretch.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 17
Keep heading up the river bed for about a half a mile, then look for a trail heading off to the right.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 18
Once you get off the Arroyo Seco and hit the trail, there’s a junction back to your right for the Ken Burton trail. Stay straight/left for the Gabrielino Trail.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 19
The part of the trail has some overgrown sections, even though it’s popular with mountain bikes.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 20
After climbing above the trees, you’ll have great views up Bear Canyon as you make your way toward Switzer. This is the same route used by visitors to Switzer’s camp in the Great Hiking Era of LA.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 21
When you come to the junction with the trail to the falls, say left on the Gabrielino Trail.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 22
The views on this section are incredible. There’s a hidden chapel on a cliff here too; check out my Switzer Falls trail guide.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 23
When you get down to the ruins of Swizer-Land, bear left and continue up the wide and gradually uphill trail.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 24
There are several stream crossings on this stretch.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 25
When you see the primitive toilets you’ve arrived at the Switzer Picnic area.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 26
Head over the bridge, hike to the parking lot, and make the right to hike to the upper end of the parking lot.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 28
At the end of the parking lot look for the trail off to the right.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 29
Head down the paved section.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 30
Then cross the spillway and hike left.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 31
You’ll see some trail signs after you turn left. Hike out of the picnic area and start the long, gradual climb up to Red Box Gap.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 32
The trail is within sight of the Angeles Crest Highway for most of this stretch and can get noisy, but the views are great.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 34
When you get to Red Box Picnic Area, cross the parking lot and road to find the Gabrielino Trail East trailhead. For a complete lowdown on Red Box Gap, read the westbound directions.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 35
Hike down the stairs from Red Box. You’ve tackled the highest point of the hike.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 36
The views are great as you descend towards Valley Forge.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 37
The trail crosses Rincon Red Box Road.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 38
Look for the trail split on the other side of the last road crossing. Make sure you don’t continue on the road.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 39
There’s a sign for Valley Forge as you descend.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 40
The descent is long and easy to follow.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 41
Make your way through the cabin area to follow the trail. The cabins are private property.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 42
Here’s the intersection for the Valley Forge Trail Camp, which is a few minutes to the left. To continue on the Gabrielino NRT, hike straight.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 43
Shortly after that is the junction with the Valley Forge Trail (to the right). You want to continue straight.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 44
More downhill trail unwinds in front of you. There are some smaller stream crossings but nothing too crazy.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 45
At the junction of the Kenyon Devore Trail, make the left to continue on the Gabrielino.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 46
The trail has some flat sections but is mainly downhill.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 47
You’ll start seeing the ruins of Camp West Fork.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 48
And then the trail will spill out onto the wide area of West Fork Trail Camp. Head across the big open area and bear right.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 49
The Gabrielino Trail is to the right of the camp sign and down the hill.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 50
Look for the Gabrielino NRT trailhead sign to confirm that you’re in the right place. There’s also a trailhead (and sign) for the Silver Moccasin Trail closeby, so confirm that you’re in the right place. After this sign you’ll hike downhill past some campsites and then over the stream.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 51
This part of the Gabrielino Trail is probably the most remote, but the trail is generally easy to follow.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 52
There’s a series of stream crossings in this section. The last one will spill you out to Devore Trail Camp.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 53
Devore Trail Camp is about a mile or so from West Fork Trail Camp. Continue through the camp on the Gabrielino NRT and start the climb to Newcomb Pass.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 54
The trail is uphill but manageable. There are some downed trees on this section but you will be able to cross them all.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 55
When you get to Rincon Redbox Road, continue on the road for a minute until you see this big sign for the Gabrielino Trail. The trail continues uphill behind it.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 56
The trail continues to climb until you reach Newcomb Pass.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 57
Go straight through Newcomb Pass and start your downhill to Chantry Flat.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 58
The trail winds its way downhill with great views.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 59
Soon you’ll descend back under the trees.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 60
At the t-junction make the hard left.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 61
Here’s a closeup of the sign at that junction. We’re heading toward Chantry Flat.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 62
The trail continues downhill.
Spruce Grove
Hike through Spruce Grove Trail Camp.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 63
And shortly after that, Cascade Picnic Area.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 64
Keep hiking toward Chantry Flat.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 65
At the Falling Sign junction, make the left.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 66
Continue downhill on this shady stretch of trail.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 67
As the canyon walls get closer you’ll hike by Sturtevant Falls down to your left.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 68
When you reach the junction, make the right.
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Here’s the sign at the last junction.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 70
Continue as the Gabrielino Trail winds its way through private cabins that sit on the banks of the Santa Anita Wash.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 71
At the big trail junction, cross the bridge to the left.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 72
Hike up the hill for one last climb. Almost there.
Gabrielino Trail Eastbound Directions 73
When you reach the gate at Chantry Flat, you’ve made it.

Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.

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