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Los Angeles Hikes

Big Dalton Canyon Trail + Coulter Pine Trail

  • 2.2 miles - Easy Effort
  • Or: 3.5 with Coulter Pine Return
  • 1-1:30 Hours (Total)
  • 200 Total Feet of Climbing
  • Max Elevation of 1,400 feet
  • Leashed Dogs Allowed

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.

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

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.

Gear That I Love Right Now

Nothing is sponsored or promoted, just the actual gear that I use.

Gear Inreach Mini 2
Garmin InReach Mini 2If you are out of cellphone range the Mini 2 will reliably allow you to hit SOS via satellite. You can also send non-emergency texts to just say that you're late, let friends and family follow along, and check the weather. You can see my review here.
Gear Topo Pursuit
Topo Pursuit 2The wide toe box means no blisters, an aggressive tread is great on the trail, it dries very quickly, and it has lots of cushion for long days. It combines everything I love about every other shoe into one.
Gear Epix Pro Up Ahead
Garmin Epix ProThese watches are pricey, but I use them 24/7 for sleep tracking, workouts, heart rate, and tracking my hike. It has preloaded hiking maps that help me navigate the trails and is a backup to my smartphone navigation. The Epix Pro has a great battery life, a screen similar to an Apple Watch Ultra, and works in harsh conditions when just using the buttons. See my review here.
Hikelite 26 Gear
Osprey Hikelite 26This updated version of the Hikelite 26 offers incredible value for the money. It's got a wide trampoline back, so your back doesn't get sweaty. It's under 2lbs, has deep side pockets, and is a great balance of what you need without what you don't.

Check out the complete list here. ( Updated June 2024)

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

Use This Map:
View in CalTopo | PDF Map | GPX File

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

Big Dalton Canyon Hike 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.
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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.
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And then start following Big Dalton Creek.
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When you get to the campground area, go straight along the creek.
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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.
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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.
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You'll cross over a large bridge.
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And then across another.
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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.
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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.
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Here's the mini-falls.
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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.
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And continue uphill.
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You'll have some wide switchbacks and some long gradual uphill sections.
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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.

Need More Info?

  • Have a question about the guide or want to see what other people are saying/asking? View the Youtube comments for this video. Leave a comment and I will do my best to respond.
  • When planning, always check the park website and social media to make sure the trails are open. Similarly, check the weather and road conditions.

This Guide Was Written by Cris Hazzard

Cris Hazzard 4 Mile Trail Yosemite
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!). You can stay up to date with my new guides by following me on YouTube, Instagram, or by subscribing to my monthly newsletter.