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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

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)

If a stream crossing is high, swift, or doesn't seem safe, do not cross. People have died when crossing swift and high waters.

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.

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 2Hit SOS or just tell loved ones that you're running late where your cell phone has no service.  Review here.
Gear Topo Pursuit
Topo Pursuit 2The best hiking footwear I've ever owned. No blisters. Get them wet, they dry quickly. Lots of cushion and comfort.
Gear Epix Pro Up Ahead
Garmin Epix ProHiking maps, route info, and fitness stats on my wrist. Review here.
Hikelite 26 Gear
Osprey Hikelite 26Lightweight, carries all your gear, and your back doesn't get sweaty. Oh yea, it's also one of the most inexpensive packs you can get.

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

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

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

Bridge to Nowhere Hike Directions

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.
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At the end of Heaton Flats the road ends and the hike switches to a single track trail.
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The trail follows the side of the cliff. The photo is scarier than it actually is.
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When you get to the river, follow the right bank upstream.
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After about a mile, you'll reach the first river crossing (of six total). Cross over and continue upstream on the other side.
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The trail is spectacular as it hugs the cliff along the narrow gorge.
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When you get to the old road bridge ruins, pass the last one and then go to the river.
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Cross the river to the right side at the second river crossing, just after the ruins of the bridge.
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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.
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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?

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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.

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After you pass the sign and the trail opens up, look up on the cliff wall ahead.
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Here's the famous "Swan Rock." If you can't see it, the head and neck are on the left.
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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.
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The trail climbs up on a ridge above the river.
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And then you'll come to the fifth river crossing. Hike to the other side.
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Once across look for the trail continuing upstream.
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When you get to the boulder, cross back over and continue upstream on the right side. That's the last river crossing.
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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.
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Hike along the ridge to the bridge. It's about a mile once climbing up to the bridge.
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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.
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And here you are, the Bridge to Nowhere!
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If you want the nice view of the bridge, continue to the other side and follow the trail along the ridge.
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When you reach the sign, turn around for a picture-perfect view of the bridge.
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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.

Need More Info?

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.