Monday, March 2, 2015

3 Waterfall Hikes to Escape the LA Grind

Los Angeles is a magical place. And it wasn't until a close friend of mine moved from Denver that I realized how lucky I've been to call this place home. The cityscapes, the beaches, the mountains -- all within a short drive from each other. And the weather...always perfection. 

Few Angelenos actually take the time to discover the more uncharted parts of the city -- something I've most recently dedicated my spare hours seeking out. 30 miles away from the urban sprawl lie some of the most beautiful natural landscapes I've seen. Chasing waterfalls has become my new part-time gig. Here are the best LA hikes I've discovered so far:

Switzer Falls
A 3.5 mile hike located near Mount Wilson in the San Gabriel Mountains is one of LA's best waterfall hikes. It's moderate hike, the hardest part being the walk back to the parking lot, but easily one of my favorites in the region. Much of the waterfall has been dried up thanks to the California drought, but there's enough creek crossings, lush greenery and wooden canyon walking to make one instantly forget that they're so close to Tinseltown.

To get to the trailhead: From the 210 Freeway in La CaƱada Flintridge, take the Angeles Crest Highway (CA 2) northwest for 10 miles to the Switzer Picnic Area. Descent to the parking lot, display your adventure pass and begin hiking. If the lot at the picnic area is full, there is additional parking at the top of the road. 

Trailhead address: Switzer Truck Trail, Angeles National Forest, Tujunga, CA 91042 Trailhead coordinates: 34.266239, -118.1457 (34° 15′ 58.46″N 118° 08′ 44.52″W)

Eaton Canyon
Heed my warning: don't go on a weekend! I made the mistake of coming here on a Saturday afternoon and the crowd was comparable to a weekend trip to Cosco. So ridiculous! However, if you're looking for a hiking option with great canyon views, come here on a weekday for a chill afternoon. Located in Pasadena, California, this 3.5 mile (out and back) hike is one of the easiest I've ever done. Perfect for novices, children and dogs.

To get to the trailhead: Take the Altadena exit off the 210 Freeway in Pasadena. Head north on Altadena Drive. The Eaton Canyon Nature Area is a couple miles up the road on the right past New York Drive. Pull into the park, leave your vehicle in the lot by the nature center and start hiking north.

Trailhead address: 1750 North Altadena Drive, Pasadena, CA 91107 Trailhead coordinates: 34.177202, -118.096485 (34° 10′ 37.92″N 118° 05′ 47.34″W)

Sturtevant Falls
Located in Sierra Madre's Chantry Flats area, this hike is home to an old resort town named for canyon pioneer Wilbur M. Sturtevant in the 1890s. Hiking around the area will find remnants of cabins and other staples, which make for a fun little stroll, and the shaded woods make for an instant escape from the bustle of the city. Try this 3.7 mile hike if you're wanting to take a little trip through time and space and find yourself in an old mountaineer's piece of heaven.

To get to the trailhead: Take the 210 east through Pasadena to Arcadia. Exit on Santa Anita Avenue and head north. Go up the mountain for 5 miles until the road ends at Chantry Flats.

Trailhead address: Chantry Flats Road, Angeles National Forest, Arcadia, CA 91006 Trailhead coordinates: 34.195515, -118.022503 (34° 11′ 43.85″N 118° 01′ 21.01″W)

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