Santa Anita Canyon

This weekend we took a trip to the Santa Anita Canyon. We’ve been following a local blogger (Modern Hiker) and this area came highly recommended. I love how accessible this hike is. The trailhead is only 5-10 minutes or so off the 210 freeway, so it’s pretty easy getting there. Conversely, because it’s so accessible, there are tons of greenhorns at the trailhead.

Once you go a little further into the woods, people become more sparse though; just the way we like it.

Saturday:

  1. We started out at Chantry Flat.
  2. Before we started the main part of our hike, we hiked about 1.2 miles in to Hermit Falls.
  3. From there, we took the Gabrielino Trail past Sturtevant Falls and camped at Spruce Grove Trail Camp.

Sunday:

  1. Continued on Gabrielino Trail to Sturtevant Camp.
  2. Just after Sturtevant Camp, we took the Mt. Zion Trail.
  3. After hiking up Mt. Zion, you drop down into Hoegees Trail Camp
  4. At Hoegees Trail Camp you can choose either the upper trail or stay in the bottom. We chose the Upper Winter Creek Trail because if you take the lower trail, you’ll have to walk on a bit of pavement and fight the crowds to get back to Chantry Flat. Plus the upper trail pretty much spits you out where the hamburgers are haha.

Santa Anita Canyon Trail Map
Hermit Falls: A lot of the people who walk in are looking for this spot. It has a couple of deep pools that make for a good spot to jump in. The lower swimming hole is pretty dangerous and not recommended to jump into. A couple of people have actually lost their lives there over the last year or so. We were talking to one of the guys there who runs a mule pack station and he let us know that the bottom pool is deceptive. The water looks deeper than it actually is, and over time, sand and dirt slowly fill in a portion of the pool making it that much more shallow and dangerous for jumping.

The bottom of the canyon is filled with tall trees giving just the right amount of shade. There’s also a lot of ground cover, so you’re fully enveloped in greenery everywhere you turn.

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Sturtevant Falls: This was a bit of a bonus for our trip. Looking at the map that I posted above, you can see that the trail actually bypasses Sturtevant Falls and just keeps on heading to Spruce Grove. We found a little billy goat trail from the main trail down to the falls. I followed it down 50 feet or so, but didn’t end up going all the way to the water. If we were looking for a spot to jump in the water, I think I would actually prefer this spot to Hermit Falls.

Spruce Grove Campground: We set up camp at Spruce Grove Campground, which is a pretty nice spot. There are about 5 or 6 sites, but if things get tight, (I’m told) people don’t mind if you set up camp in between sites. The guy who had set up camp next to us ended up getting crowded out of his space and ended up sharing a campfire with us in our area.

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In the picture above, you can see the relative space between the sites. There was one more site that was just uphill from us also. You can see where the creek runs by following the trail of rocks on the left.

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This picture is taken from the top of Mt. Zion. If you look to the far right of the picture, you can see where the city is.

Last note about this trip: don’t pass on the “Kick-Ass” hamburgers. The pack station is run by people who have transformed the private residence into an area that sells small luxuries such as hamburgurs, hot dogs, (variations of each), beer, soda, parking passes, etc. After a long day of hiking, it was amazing to sit in a regular chair and have an old fashioned hamburger and a coke. We’re not big hamburger enthusiasts, but after a good hike, it’s damn near impossible to pass on a legitimate hamburger.

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