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Angeles National Forest Hikes

Bridge to Nowhere Hike

  • 10 miles - Moderate Effort
  • 5-6 Hours (Total)
  • Can Get Very Busy
  • 1,250 Total Feet of Climbing
  • Max Elevation of 2,810 feet
  • Leashed Dogs Allowed

what does this mean?

The Bridge to Nowhere is a classic hike for good reason. The route is rugged but doable by most beginners. You'll follow the East Fork of the San Gabriel River upstream, crossing it six times as you dive deeper into the Sheep Mountain Wilderness. Once you're about five miles in, you'll round a bend, and bam! There's a beautiful 120-foot bridge spanning the East Fork Narrows! It's a popular hike, but I'll share a tip that can dramatically change your experience.

In this Guide:
  • Video & Turn by Turn Hike Directions
  • Where to Park, Permits and Fees
  • Planning Your Hike (With Shoe & Gear 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.

Bridge to Nowhere Hiking Tips

Bighorn At Bridge To Nowhere
Timing is everything. Play your cards right and maybe you can spot some bighorn sheep.

Where is the Bridge to Nowhere?

East Fork Trailhead
The hike starts at the East Fork Trailhead in Angeles National Forest, about an hour away from central Los Angeles. Use this trailhead address:  East Fork Trailhead, Camp Bonita Rd, La Verne, CA 91750
Bridge Nowhere Parking Lot
There are a decent amount of spots in the parking lot, but it gets full quickly. The red arrow marks the start of the hike.
Overflow Parking At Bridge To Nowhere
It's about 9 am, and people are parked along the road about a mile from the trailhead.

Gear for the Hike

Shoe In Water
I find the best move is to just walk through the water when there are river crossings.

My Latest Gear Picks

Featured Gear 2023 08 11

Garmin inReach Mini 2 ( Amazon | REI )
HOKA Speedgoat 5
( Men | Women )
Zpacks Sub-Nero Ultra ( Zpacks | Review )
Alpine Carbon Cork Poles ( REI | Amazon )

As a hiking guide, I test lots of hiking gear. On my picks page, I'll show you all of the gear that I actually use. I don't accept paid promotions or talk about the stuff that doesn't make the cut. It's just the gear that works best, so you don't have to waste your money.

All My September 2023 Top Gear Picks

Bridge to Nowhere Trail Maps

Bridge Full
The hike to the Bridge to Nowhere follows the East Fork of the San Gabriel River upstream until you reach the bridge. As long as you are going upstream, you're heading the right way.

I like to break the hike up into 3 sections:

This helps me mentally tackle the hike and know how far I've gone. Once you're at the bridge, you simply return the same way that you came.

There are no big climbs on the hike. All of the elevation change comes from small ups and downs along the way.

Click Here To View

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

Best Smartphone Apps to Navigate: AllTrails | GaiaGPS | OnX


Bridge to Nowhere Hike Directions

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Bridge To Nowhere Directions 2
Hike through the gate at the end of the parking lot.
Bridge To Nowhere Directions 3
After a short stretch downhill you'll arrive at Heaton Flats. Keep hiking straight.

Who was Heaton? He was a miner that lived and worked here from 1891 until the 1920s. Today you can still see people hunting for gold along the river. There's a good documentary on Vimeo called "LA Miner" that's free and worth a watch.

Bridge To Nowhere Directions 1
Pass the junction to the Heaton Flats Trail on your right.
Bridge To Nowhere Directions 4
At the end of Heaton Flats the road ends and the hike switches to a single track trail.
Bridge To Nowhere Directions 5
The trail follows the side of the cliff. The photo is scarier than it actually is.
Bridge To Nowhere Directions 6
When you get to the river, follow the right bank upstream.
Bridge To Nowhere Directions 7
After about a mile, you'll reach the first river crossing (of six total). Cross over and continue upstream on the other side.
Bridge To Nowhere Directions 8
The trail is spectacular as it hugs the cliff along the narrow gorge.
Bridge To Nowhere Directions 9
When you get to the old road bridge ruins, pass the last one and then go to the river.
Bridge To Nowhere Directions 10
Cross the river to the right side at the second river crossing, just after the ruins of the bridge.
Bridge To Nowhere Directions 11
As you head upstream on the right side, climb the granite to continue on the trail. The trail is hidden just above the short climb by the arrow.
Bridge To Nowhere Directions 12
And shortly after that last climb, you'll come to another boulder by the riverside. Go around the boulder to the right to continue on the trail.
Bridge To Nowhere Directions 13
After about 2.5 miles you'll reach the John Seals Bridge over Laurel Gulch, created by the volunteers of the San Gabriel Mountain Trailbuilders. The bridge was airlifted here with a helicopter.
Bridge To Nowhere Directions 14
You're also entering the Sheep Mountain Wilderness, named after the bighorn sheep that roam in these hills.

What's does it mean to be in a Wilderness Area?

Bridge To Nowhere Directions 15
If you look down here, you'll see the asphalt from the road that once connected where we started at the trailhead to the bridge.

 In 1929 work started on the East Fork Road, which was going to connect San Gabriel Valley with Wrightwood to the north.  The bridge was a vital link on that road and was built in 1936. But only two years later, in 1938, catastrophic flooding in the San Gabriel River washed the road away, leaving only, well, you guessed it, a Bridge to Nowhere.

Bridge To Nowhere Directions 16
After you pass the sign and the trail opens up, look up on the cliff wall ahead.
Bridge To Nowhere Directions 17
Here's the famous "Swan Rock." If you can't see it, the head and neck are on the left.
Bridge To Nowhere Directions 18
Shortly after Swan Rock you'll reach the third river crossing. This one is tricky. Once you cross over, cross right back (past the cliff) to continue. There are trails on the left bank, but they are not the main trail.
Bridge To Nowhere Directions 19
The trail climbs up on a ridge above the river.
Bridge To Nowhere Directions 20
And then you'll come to the fifth river crossing. Hike to the other side.
Bridge To Nowhere Directions 21
Once across look for the trail continuing upstream.
Bridge To Nowhere Directions 22
When you get to the boulder, cross back over and continue upstream on the right side. That's the last river crossing.
Bridge To Nowhere Directions 23
As you head upstream, look toward the ridge up on the right. As you continue upstream you'll see a clear trail heading up onto the ridge. That's the small climb you'll take to hit the ridge.
Bridge To Nowhere Directions 24
Hike along the ridge to the bridge. It's about a mile once climbing up to the bridge.
Bridge To Nowhere Directions 25
When the trail widens you'll see a sign listing the rules for the private property you're about to hike on (from the bungee jumping company). Please be respectful of the rules.
Bridge To Nowhere Directions 26
And here you are, the Bridge to Nowhere!
Bridge To Nowhere Directions 27
If you want the nice view of the bridge, continue to the other side and follow the trail along the ridge.
Bridge To Nowhere Directions 28
When you reach the sign, turn around for a picture-perfect view of the bridge.
Bridge To Nowhere Directions 29
If you want to swim or chill at the river, carefully hike down the slope to a series of swimming holes.

That's it! When you're done at the bridge, just hike back the way you came.

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.

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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!).

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