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Altadena Trails

Information about Hiking, Mountain Bike and Equestrian Trails in the Altadena Foothills.
Altadena, CA is at the foot of the San Gabriel range, 15 miles north of Los Angeles.

SimpsonCity.com - Hikes in the San Gabriels and Beyond!
- Echo Mountain via Sam Merrill
- Millard Canyon Falls
- Arroyo Seco to Oakwilde Campground

LocalHikes.com - Recent Timestamped Reviews plus Advanced Searches.
RonBigelow.com - Reviews, Photos, Maps and lots more, but no dates.

Read about the great Hike we took on July 5, 2004 to Millard Falls.
A Hike to Rubio Creek July 31, 2004 turned into a trail maintenance victory!

After a hike, meet for a bite to eat at Motas Mexican Food, - - (626) 794-7700, - - 2397 N. Lincoln, Altadena, CA, 91001.
Delicious iced horchata to quench your thirst and authentic Mexican food to satisfy your appetite for burritos (including juicy shrimp), tostada, and other Mexican entrees!

For that special lunch, try Amys Patio Cafe (gotta love that pumpkin bread!) at 900 E Altadena Dr - - 626-798-4737 - - followed by a cool, sweet treat at nearby Bulgarini Gelato - - 749 E. Altadena Dr. - - (626) 791-6174 - - in Altadena, near the top of Lake Ave.

Also See: EVENTS page for upcoming group hikes in the Altadena foothills.

Short SPS Loop - Submitted by Rachel Wing, December 2005
Distance: 1.5 km
Approximate hiking time: 20 minutes
Features: Follow the trail of coyotes into a lovely fragment of chaparral as you circle a hillock and drop into the Wash, exiting behind Loma Alta Park, in view of your starting trailhead.

    Start at the Loma Alta Equestrian Staging Area on the north side of Loma Alta Drive, 2 blocks east of Lincoln Ave. There is a water fountain but no bathroom at the trailhead. The gate into the trailhead area is open from dawn to dusk. At the back end of the equestrian staging area you find a break in the fence well marked with the Altadena Crest Trail sign. The trail runs for 200 meters adjacent to a chain-link fence that separates you from the SPS (Sediment Placement Site) operated by LA County Flood Control. After about 200 meters the trail bends away from the SPS to the right and starts around the southeast side of a hillock. When I did this hike in December, I saw numerous ropey-looking coyote scats on the trail. Also a dead opossum (don't know if there was a connection). Almost immediately, you enter a thicket of typical chaparral plants dominated by chamise and scrub oak. This part of the trail is smooth. Just beyond the brush on your left are roads and flats graded and paved for the trucks that work the SPS, but I visited on a weekend and found it lovely and peaceful. After you round the hillock you start heading west, down into the wash. The trail here is steep and gullied - you would want shoes with good traction. At the bottom of the wash you encounter another Altadena Crest Trail sign. Take the left fork. (If you want a longer hike, the right fork leads eastward to Chaney Trail road.) Now you ascend gently to Lincoln Avenue, in view of your starting point. Where the trail exits onto the road there are hay bales set up, inviting you to sit and look back toward the mountains, where you can see Brown Mountain a little to the northwest, Sunset Ridge a little to the northeast, and beyond Sunset Ridge, you look into the awesome gorge of Upper Millard Canyon. Farther east you can see Echo Mountain, with its remnants of the old "White City" hotel, and the well-traveled Sam Merrill Trail. All this I saw on an overcast day - clear weather might show you more! To return to the start, you have only a 400 meter walk down Lincoln Ave., and left 1 block on Loma Alta. The day I did this hike, this short walk was graced by a flock of Western Bluebirds in a redwood grove at the back side of Loma Alta Park.
(Thanks, Rachel! Makes me want to go back soon. - ed.)

Arroyo Seco - a great place to spend some time among a myriad of creekbeds, trees, wildflowers, meadows and fields of sage. Easy to access from the parking lot at the top of Windsor, across Ventura, and down the Fire Road that drops past some Pasadena Water plants toward JPL. Or park near the west end of Altadena Drive (do not park within a car length of the guard-rail) and take the short, steep horse track down to meet the Fire Road. Follow the road into a tree-canopied oasis; so close to the city, yet it feels so far away. Many side trails Meander down to the trickling creek. For light day hikes and introductory diversions, go as far as you like and retrace your route back. For a more challenging outing, and to access the higher trail systems, read the Gabrielino Trail Conditions section. WATER FALLS - Spring 2005 - This year's winter storm season uncovered sights not seen in many years. See the flows in Rubio and Millard Canyons before the summer heat dries them up again for who can say how long? Mornings are best during these days of record heat, but just being near the falls makes even this weather feel better.

Rubio Canyon - Much has been written about the waterfalls of Rubio Canyon. See the latest at "Rubio's Grand Revival", a Los Angeles Daily News article of May 25, 2005. To view the falls, begin at the Rubio trailhead (see map, right), follow the Rubio right-of-way along the west side of the canyon. To bag some waterfalls, stay on the main trail as it curves around to the left and follows the creek upstream. This will involve some scrambling through the boulder-strewn creek. A June 30 email from Paul Ayers tells us that "Pools abound below, between, and above the falls... a great upgrade for the already spectacular Rubio page created by Dan Simpson... Animation, photos, and solid directions to all of the major falls including Leontine... at: SimpsonCity.com ...also revised my basic Rubio trails map to show the trail to Leontine... Both Dan and I cannot say too often that once you leave Thalehaha Overlook for Leontine you are in DANGER COUNTRY. Do not do it if you do not have significant experience with off-trail hiking in the San Gabriel front." A less strenuous, yet still rewarding hike is the newly restored Altadena Crest Trail to lower Rubio Creek.

Millard Falls, 2005, Photo by George Aumann
Millard Canyon - Millard Canyon is an oasis any time of year but particularly beautiful right now (photo). The Creek is flowing strong and the lower waterfall is easily accessible, with moderate boulder hopping (hiking stick is recommended). Further upstream, the Punchbowl Falls of the Saucer Branch, can be viewed at some distance from Sunset Ridge Trail or the Sunset Ridge Fire Road. The trail to the lower falls is accessed from Millard Campgrounds (Drive up Chaney Trail, and down to the parking lot at the very bottom). Sunset Ridge Trail and the Sunset Ridge Fire Road are accessed from the very topmost part of Chaney Trail. Chaney Trail runs north off of Loma Alta Dr, at the blinking yellow light between Lincoln and Fair Oaks. For a challenge, try following in Paul's boot steps - read this report on his Punchbowl hike and swim in 1999.

Send comments regarding this site to support at Altadena Trails .org
Updated Sept 20, 2008.