A 10 mile trek down the East Fork of the San Gabriel River, following the path of an attempted highway. This hike features multiple river crossings, plenty of opportunities to swim, historic sections of visible roads and tunnels, and the Bridge to Nowhere — a 120 foot high concrete bridge in the middle of the canyon. The bridge is an odd and beautiful sight that is unparalleled in the San Gabriels — and it’s also the only place in California were bungee jumping is allowed (on weekends).

Note: You will need a free Wilderness Permit to hike inside the Sheep Mountain Wilderness. You can obtain one at any manned ranger station or visitor center in the Angeles National Forest / San Gabriel Mountains National Monument or at a self-service registry at the trailhead.

A few notes on this trail before you decide to venture here. First, although you can hike this year-round, there are different precautions you should take depending on when you want to hike here. During the cooler winter months, expect water levels to be significantly higher and crossings to be more difficult. Also, if there is even a slight chance of a storm coming through the area, we recommend postponing your trip. This canyon has a long and storied history of deadly and destructive flash floods and you do not want to be here when that water comes barreling down this narrow canyon. If you hike in the warmer months, carry LOTS of drinking water and be sure you stop to eat snacks along the way. There is almost no shade and the trail – with its numerous boulder hops and crossings – is deceptively exhausting.

OK, now let’s get to the good stuff!


The trail starts at Coyote Flat at a locked gate at the end of East Fork Road (or USFS 8W16). There is a small parking lot at the end of the road, but by the time we’d reached the trailhead, cars were already overflowing onto the rest of the road.

The area is a very popular swimming and picnicking destination, and on hot days you’ll often see tents and swimmers lined up along the entire river on the way in. Most of these bathers rarely venture a few hundred feet from their parked cars, however, so don’t let a crowded parking situation deter you from setting foot on the trail.

After walking around the gate, the trail descends on a wide dirt road. The road is unremarkable, although it does offer tremendous views of the landscape you’re about to enter.


The dirt road ends at the junction with Heaton Flats Trail — the turnoff for the grueling ascent toward Iron Mountain, considered by many to be one of the most difficult day hikes in the San Gabriel Mountains. Skip this trail, hit up the bathroom if you need to, and continue along the road. It quickly narrows and makes a bee-line for the water’s edge.

As with many sections on this trail, you can choose to walk in the loose sand of the river’s flood plain, or follow one of many well-worn footpaths on higher ground. Right here, however, either path will shortly force you to a choke point along the water. Depending on the water’s level, you will have to ford through a small section, staying on the east shore, or you can hop over a few boulders like my traveling companions did.

Stay on the river’s eastern shore, walking along the boulders as you make your way north. This section of the trail may still be crowded with those slightly-more-adventuresome bathers, who have taken to creating numerous dams near choice swimming holes in the river.

At a point where the river makes a slight bend, the trail crosses the river to the western bank and ascends a low rocky ridge, away from the water.

The trail stays away from the river for a short distance, cutting a clear path through brush and grass as it follows the river north.

The second crossing is just after this brushy area, and on the east bank, the trail splits into several use trails continuing north. There are several different paths, many of them marked with cairns. While there is no “correct” route, they all do go to the same place, so just keep trying to follow the river and watch out for Spanish Bayonets.

The trail stays to the east of the river at the junction with Shoemaker Canyon, a decidedly sharp curve in the river to the northeast. You’ll be able to note this location by looking both down and up — up at the western mountains to see the final tunnel in the abandoned Shoemaker Canyon Road, and down to notice the old overgrown asphalt on the failed San Gabriel River Road. This is what a Southern Californian mountain road looks like after almost 70 years of disuse.

The trail turns toward the northeast and crosses the river twice. By now, you should be experiencing some moments of solitude. You might want to stop and enjoy the river for a bit, or just listen to its white noise while you stop for a quick snack.

The trail continues east, in the shadow of some high ridges — some of which have a sizable amount of poison oak growing near them, so be aware.

When the river reaches Laurel Gulch, it makes a sharp turn toward the north again. The trail follows the river, and passes a sign marking the entrance to the Sheep Mountain Wilderness Area.

Here, the trail enters a broad, dry wash in the river (depending on water levels, of course). Before the trail leaves the riverbed to make a very short bypass to nearby Allison Gulch, be sure to look at the rock walls to your west. You should be able to make out an unusual ribbon of quartz running through an otherwise dark formation, which is known as Swan Rock.

East Fork 043
If you reach this point of the hike in the mid-day, you might not be able to see it … but in indirect sunlight it’s very apparent.

Allison Gulch is the turn off for another approach to Iron Mountain via an unmaintained trail that passes the ruins of Allison Mine, one of the many not-very-successful former mining ventures in this region.

Cross the river twice again just north of Allison Gulch, enjoying the small shaded areas and deep swimming holes if it’s getting too hot out for ya.

Just beyond these two close crossings, the trail leaves the riverside again and meets up with another section of broken-down pavement. This section of the trail follows a very distinct path, which only occasionally winds around troublesome bayonets. Keep following north until it descends back down to a wide, rocky area of riverbed.

Here, the river makes a sharp bend to the west as it continues to meander north. There are several clear, marked trails that leave the riverbed and ascend back up to the old road ridge. IGNORE them and continue along the river. A lower route will appear and continue.

Taking the upper routes will get you to the top of a ridge overlooking the river, with an apparent ridge route along what is left of the road grade. This route is possible to travel, but it is unnecessarily dangerous and not recommended.

Instead, continue along the lower route near the river, crossing once to a low sandbar-type island in the middle of the river, then once again back to the eastern bank — again, taking time to stop and enjoy your surroundings.


After the two crossings, continue northeast, toward the higher road grade. There is a short path that scrambles up on the east side of the canyon to join this route. It’s pretty easy to find, even without this creative help left behind by some hikers with too much time on their hands.

From here, it’s pretty easy going the rest of the way. Continue gaining elevation through brush as the old road grade gets further above the water. At a bend just before Devil Gulch, the trail hooks northeast and passes a sign marking the boundary of private property.

There are a few steep drop-offs near this section, but nothing any moderately cautious hiker shouldn’t be able to handle. Very shortly, you will pass a small metal cabin and get your first glimpse of the Bridge, which doesn’t look all that special when you first approach it.

It’s only when you cross the bridge and turn around do you get to see some really striking views — and if you go on the weekend, you might be treated to a large bungee jumping show, too.


After you’ve had your fill of the sight of the bridge, you have a few options — you can continue on the trail just around the next meander in the canyon to the beginnings of a blasted tunnel, continue even further past that to the Narrows — the deepest gorge in the San Gabriels — or just scramble down a use trail to some exquisite swimming holes with great views of the bridge.

We were happy to swim, but I think it may very well be impossible not to have a great time, no matter what you decide to do along this trail.

Just remember to leave some energy for the hike out. Although this hike is mostly-flat, I’m always surprised at just how zonked out I am after getting back to my car. Be sure to bring more water than you think you need and take plenty of breaks – even if you don’t think you need them.

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Casey Schreiner

Founder and Editor-in-Chief at Modern Hiker
Since founding Modern Hiker in 2006, Casey's work on the site has appeared in regional and national publications, including the Los Angeles Times, National Public Radio, the Associated Press, CNN, New York Magazine, High Country News, and others. He has broken several national news stories about outdoor vandalism and policies and his first book "Day Hiking Los Angeles" is available for pre-order.
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This post was written by Casey Schreiner on August 11, 2008


  • Jim says:

    For me summer is beach time, but hadn’t been up to the San Gabriels since June so looked for a hike that would have lots of water. I got that with this hike. Didn’t make it all the way to the bridge, so many great little spots to just chill out. Not deep enough to swim, but enough to just relax with my feet in the water. But the big reason I didn’t make it….about half way to the bridge I ran into 5 bighorn sheep crossing the trail not 10 feet in front of me. I guess they’d come down to drink / eat. Stayed there and hung out with them a while. Took photos, posted a few here:


  • Mary Ann says:

    Just did this hike on 4/24/16. Definitely a popular hike, and everyone was polite and the trail was clean and well maintained. Great place to teach our dog how to do creek crossings. The bridge was pretty hilarious with the bungee jumping and crowds. Definitely a much more popular place than I’d remembered, and goes to who how we need more places like this in LA.

  • Karen says:

    Has anyone done this hike in the past couple of weeks? I’m going with a group on President’s Day and would appreciate a report on the stream level and water flow and trail condition. Last time I went was summer 2014 – streams were not too deep or swift, and I recall a couple of major trail obstructions we had to scramble around. We haven’t had much rain this season, so I’m hoping streams are pretty manageable right now. Thanks!!

  • tim greer says:

    I hiked the bridge to nowhere 15times untouched from the developers and corporate idiots mm30years of hiking in the mountains up there Mt Islip is a good hike to I live in Florence kentucy now I miss my mts

  • Laurie says:

    I just hiked this with a friend yesterday, June 14, 2015. It is indeed a great hike, but it did kick my ass. I chose it because my friend wanted a hike with limited elevation gain, which this one has. However while I read the word level, I did not see the posts about uneven. It is extremely uneven, as in you are walking on a river bed, with rocks to climb up, over, around most of the hike. As such it is not 10 miles of easy walking with a few stream crossings and a mild incline. However, we still enjoyed ourselves.

    Note: we both had 3 liters of water with us but could have used more. We did start at 1 pm though and it was 85 degrees or so. The hike to the bridge was hot. The hike out was not.

  • Ron says:

    I did this hike last July. Must have been 90-95 that day. I found that it wasn’t that tough; the hardest part is making sure you’re on the right trail. I’m accustomed to hiking alone, but this is NOT a good trail to do alone because it’s so, um, “unofficial”. I found myself with two groups of bungee jumpers, so I turned out fine. Two washouts, but previous hikers made a trail around them; my guess is this is what miles 7-8 of Kauai’s Kalalau Trail is like. I found the last mile to be a solid grind, no shade, and even its extremely slight uphill grade was enough to make this boy tired. Surprisingly, the bridge was a little of a letdown. It’s a turning-around point. But the real attraction is all the gorgeous scenery for ten solid miles (five in, five out). Throw in the numerous swimming holes, and this is a fun all-day affair for the intermediate hiker. Hope you enjoy it; I did!

  • melissa says:

    did this hike on friday and it was great! loved all the different terrains and so happy to see water. passed only a few people, so glad we went during the week. information and pix where spot on. thanks for sharing your/our passion, really appreciate your enthusiasm.

  • Linda says:

    Does anyone know the mileage from the bridge to The Narrows?

  • tina says:

    Just did this trail yesterday and it was amazing. It was over 100 degrees and the trail never seemed to end, but it was worth it. Watched the bungee jumpers while cooling off in the river. We brought 2 liters of water a piece and it was not enough. Thankfully the bungee jumping company has drinkable water so we filled up our bottles for the trek back. Thanks for introducing us to this area. We plan on going back and just hanging in the river. I do not recommend this hike for anyone not already in shape since it’s rocky and there are some areas where you have to be careful not to fall down the side of the hills. However, there were allot of people on this trail and I didn’t see anyone fall.

  • Beautiful hike. Watch out for Bighorn Sheep above the Narrows!

  • Hiker_Bob says:

    @Mia: Click on my name for my BTN Website where you will find a link for a printable Topo generated trail map with mileage notations. This hike is not steep its just the distance and stream crossings that make it a little tough. Since you’re doing this on a Sunday, try to get to the parking lot trailhead before 8AM if possible. This parking lot usually fills up fast with all the weekend hikers that hike this trail on the weekends plus, if you hit the trail later than 8AM, you’ll be arriving at the Bridge during the hottest part of the day. Once you get past the 3 mile marker the trail is pretty exposed with little or no shade. Believe me, a dip in the river will feel very good, so I recommend wearing quick-dry shorts.

    I agree with Casey, if a 6-7 mile hike is tough for your group, you maybe should do some conditioning hikes first before tackling this trek. If one of your group has a GPS Device, I recommend they bring it and have them pre-post some waypoints using the lat/long off my Topo map.

  • Mia Joiner says:

    HI Modern Hiker Friends! I want to do this trail on sunday, but wanted to know how many miles until you hit the “swimming area” by the bridge. 11 miles is still a bit much for my hiking group, we average 6-7 miles on most hikes and our dead by that point haha. Thanks!

  • Daniel flavin says:

    I did this hike as a kid and it was a lot of fun…does anyone know where I would purchase a parking/camping permit I would really like to go back again now as an adult.

    • Hiker_Bob says:

      @Daniel, go to any REI or Sports Chalet and purchase a Day Adventure Pass. If you can do this hike on a weekday, try to do it then. On the weekends, the East Fork Trailhead parking lot is packed and there’s way too many people on the trail and a huge crowd at the Bridge itself.

      Click on my name for my BTN Hike Website.

  • Hiker_Bob says:

    Back on Sept 1, 2002, I hiked to the BTNW and got chased out of the canyon by the “Curve Fire”. Click on the following link for photos I took that day:


  • Josh says:

    Great post. I did this hike in 2009 with some of the San Berndino County Search and Rescue volunteers and really enjoyed it. We were greeted by some Bighorn Sheep overlooking the trail as we approached the bridge.

  • Jess says:

    My friends and I hiked part of this trail on Saturday- guess we did it just in time.

    • Hopper says:

      My family and I camped out near the parking lot on saturday night. Most of us went on to the trail while a few stayed behind with the kids. It took us 3 hours to get to the bridge and enjoy our sandwich underneath the bridge. Unfortunately we were only there for 30 minutes when the bungee jumping guys evacuated us. As we got up to the bridge and looked towards the way back we saw the smoke. Every turn we made just made the fire look bigger… I dont know how we got back to the parking lot in one hour…all the other hikers were very helpful to each other and made sure everyone was ok. I’m glad everyone got out ok. I hope they put out this fire because it was my first trip there and I hope to go back soon. What an amazing place.

  • mtngirl says:

    How late in the season can we do this hike and camp? When is the first snow?

  • Hiker_Bob says:

    @MC0926, if your dog is used to hiking, including river crossings then OK but I would leave the dog home. Plan for at least 7 hrs on the trail unless you are a real fast hiker.

    If you plan to do this hike on the weekend get to the trailhead EARLY (7AM or sooner) I’ve never done this hike on the weekends before and this past Saturday at 9AM, the trailhead parking lot was packed! Plus the weather is really getting hot so the earlier the start the better. The last mile to the bridge doesn’t offer much shade.

  • mc0926 says:

    Can I take my dog?

  • CSUFTitans says:

    Finally got a chance to do this hike earlier today, which took us just over 6 hours (incl 30 minute break at the bridge) and about 11.8 miles (yeah we took a few wrong turns). The water level is fairly low, to where you can really just hike with your hiking boots as long as you’re careful when hopping through the rocks and logs. Due to the length of this hike (5.5 miles each way according to my gps), going with a sandals or water shoes would probably be uncomfortable for most of the trails, especially with lots of rocks and gravels, although fun when going through the river. Beautiful trails in general, definitely one of the best in SoCal.

  • bry says:

    anyone know current water level?

    • CSUFTitans says:

      I’m actually going there later today. Will let you know the water level. I would think it’ll be low as we haven’t had much rain since April.

  • Lanny says:

    That siltiness and color is due to the rain storms we had earlier this week. Good news for the prospectors ;)

  • Bryan Gordon says:

    Did the hike up the East Fork today with my 9 year old son. We had to turn back about 3/4 of a mile before the BTN. The water appeared unusually turbid(cloudy), like the color of pulverized granite. The stream side was full of this grey clay-like muck. The entire stream experience is changed, since the water was cloudy grey and murky looking. I would not want to be a fish in this creek, just as I would not want to breath in soot in my air. I have to wonder if this condition is linked to some environmental problem, like a recent fire or if has more to do with the price of gold and the number of prospectors.

  • Jessica says:

    Thank you for all your feedback…she was so excited to see me jump, since she was there for my skydive.. I always thought it would be a little too much for her.. Guess I’ll have to break the news to her. Wish me luck!!!

  • Hiker Bob says:

    @Jessica: My suggestion to you, get a baby-sitter. 7 years old is a little young for this hike unless she is really used to real hiking. Even though there’s not much elevation gain, this trail is not like walking in a city park. And we are talking 10 miles RT.

    Leave her at home and you can enjoy the day without worrying about the little one.

  • RICK says:

    My suggestion is to travel light… it’s a 4-5 miles hike… once you’ve reach the first little wooden
    Bridge you’ve traveled 2 miles and are half way there… take mini breaks so she doesn’t get tired
    I took my 6 year old daughter 2 weeks ago…. remember to keep hydrated… but don’t worry too
    Much and carry a lot of water once you reach the bridge the bungee jumping people have a water
    Filter you can fill your water pouches/bottles there….
    Have fun…

  • Jessica says:

    Going on my first hike to the BTN next weekend to bunjee for my birthday. My 7 yr old daughter wants to come along as a spectator. Any advice???

  • Hiker Bob says:

    Had to reschedule my BTN hike for next week sometime.

  • Hiker Bob says:

    Any “first timers” want to join me this Friday (9/16) for a hike to the BTN? If so, meet me 8:00AM at the Ranger Station (click on following URL) located at the entrance of Azusa Canyon.


    Click on my name for my BTN Website.

  • Desiree says:

    Thank you! I will be going there tomorrow!

  • Hiker Bob says:

    @Desiree: Those ranger stations don’t open very early so I recommend you go to any REI or Sports Chalet and buy an Adventure Pass there. There’s also a Stop n Go mini-store at the entrance of the canyon that sells them and they are open very early. Click on my name for my BTN Website. Then click on “Basic Hike Info” link and under “Directions to Trailhead” you’ll see a link to a Google Maps of this market’s location.

  • RICK says:

    Hi Desiree you can purchase an adventure pass at the first Ranger station at bottom of the
    San Gabriel Canyon Rd if you pass that ranger station don’t worry much, there is a second
    Ranger station on the E fork Rd and the pass is only $5 dollars ?

  • Desiree says:

    Hi. Where can I get an adventure pass and how much is it?

  • Hiker Bob says:

    @B. Hiker: On the weekends, you will usually meet other hikers on the trail that you can hook up with. I like hiking to the BTN on a week day, fewer people on the trail. If you’re interested in a “guided” hike to the Bridge, click on my name for my BTN website and then scroll to the bottom where you will find a link to send me an E-mail.

    Remember, this hike will take 6-7 hrs to complete and has 5 or 6 river crossings, although this time of year, they shouldn’t be too bad.

  • B Hiker says:

    Can I girl go by herself? Would you recommend it? Everybody flakes

    • roger says:

      Tell me about it I’ve gone solo every time I GI deep into canyons by myself I’d fell better about going into caves if I wasn’t Alone e

  • We found your site and this post specifically very helpful! We did the Bridge to Nowhere hike this weekend and are excited to try more of the ones you describe. Thanks for all the useful pics/recs/descriptions!

    I write a Comedy Travel Guide of Los Angeles and gave you a shout out in my Comedy Review! http://latravelbug.wordpress.com/2011/08/31/raging-rapids-caterkillers-a-10-mile-hike-to-the-bridge-to-nowhere/

    Great blog thanks!

  • Hiker Bob says:

    @ B hiker: Click on my name to see my BTN Website. Then click on the “Basic Hike Info” link for driving directions to the trailhead parking lot. During the week, this lot is open but on the weekends, it can get crowded if you don’t get there early. Note: Adventure Pass is required.

  • B hiker says:

    what is a good place to meet up around there? i’m expecting not to find parking close…

  • RICK says:

    Bananas are great but if your going hiking in hot weather its probably one fruit you want to eat
    After your hike… the scent comes out your pores and attracts mosquitoes…

  • Hiker Bob says:

    @Rick: Just curious – why the advice about eating bananas? Never heard that one before. I sometimes pack a banana on a hike to prevent leg cramps (ie, the potassium).

  • RICK says:

    Hi Christiana
    Just like Hiker Bob said… the best place to camp is right on the other side of the bridge…
    Follow the river just about half a mile and you’ll start to see a lot >>> I MEAN A LOT of
    Awesome places to camp out… right next to the river… and the best part is you’ll find
    Some real nice flat areas… no rocks… soft sand… some areas even have fire pits… witch I
    Don’t recommend you use since the rangers don’t allow it… But its up to you… you’ll be right next to the river…
    Before camping pass the bridge, you need to stop at the ranger station and get a permit since your
    Entering Sheep Mountain Area and a fire permit is also required if your goanna be cooking any of your meals…
    Even if it’s a single burner stove. Other than that… you’ll be just fine… and if your feeling adventurous
    I recommend taking a morning hike about 2 miles in there is an old miners Hut to the right side of the river…
    A nice place to visit and take some pictures…

  • RICK says:

    Hi B hiker I’ve actually hiked this trail every weekend this month ( geocaching ) the bug problem isn’t that bad…
    Its hot so there’s more bugs than usual but not to the point where you would rather not go hiking…
    Just spray your self with bug repellent you’ll be alright… and best time take on the BTN in my
    Opinion is NOW… winter is too cold to river cross… the water is not too high right now and the current is not
    Too strong… its very refreshing… it’s a lot of fun… all in all don’t worry about the BUGS too much…
    Just don’t eat a banana before or during your hike…

  • B hiker says:

    i’m planning to go on this hike soon, i was told that the flies/flying insects are really bad… anybody that can comment/confirm that … and how bad they are?
    and i want to know what is the BEST best time to go on this hike… month wise?

  • Hiker Bob says:

    @Christiana: years ago, my son and I did an overnight at the bridge. Where we camped was across the bridge, along the trail around the bend and across the stream where a remnant of the old road made for a flat area above the creek bed. I’m assuming it’s still there. For a Google Maps view of the spot I’m talking about click on the link below:


  • christiana says:

    some friends and i are planning to camp up there tomorrow evening after we hike
    we were planning to stay near were the trail starts just down the first hill

    but i can find any information on it
    do we need anything besides the obvious?? Tips anyone??

  • Hiker Bob says:

    Note to those of you who are thinking about bringing your dog with them to the BTN. Last Sunday, a couple had their Lab Mix poopout on the way back. The dog was too big to carry, so they had to stay overnight and were rescued by helicopter the next day. Click on link below for CBS coverage of the story:


  • RICK says:

    Once again thanks Ze, I looked around the page and found what i was looking for…
    On my way up there 08/06, hoping to start 7 am… ( I’ll hike south from the Chimney )

  • RICK says:

    Thanks Ze, can you send me a direct lynk to your page on the S-Miller mine?

  • Ze says:

    Rick, you need to look at the few TR’s on my website about Stanley Miller. That should give you enough info about the adventure your in store for :)

  • RICK says:

    Good Morning…. planing a hike to Stanley Millers Mine.
    I’ve done some research and found out its not too far from the Bridge, but I’ve also read that most of
    The people that go seeking the mine can’t find it, and end up turning back.
    Can anybody tell me why??? Is the entrance to the mine hidden ??? I’ve also seen a picture of the entrance
    And it looks more like a cave>> no door << ————-need some detail from some one that’s been there.

  • Tobi says:

    Great hike! Unfortunately the water was really dirty today. There was lots of dark clay at the shores. Does anybody know the cause of this?

  • RICK says:

    A few flies here and there but they weren’t a problem… at the first crossing the water was at thigh level
    I’m 5’7… I didn’t see a steel cable at any of the crossings… but I did see two pieces
    Of it on both sides of the river… it looked like it was cut off…

  • Hiker Bob says:

    @Gavin and Rick: Cicadas sound more likely. If you haven’t heard one before, they almost do sound like the “buzz” of a rattlesnake.

    @Rick: Where the black flies much of a problem on your hike and how was the water level at first crossing? Was the steel cable still strung across?

  • RICK says:

    thanks, makes me feel better to know. next time im taking my daughter with me.

  • Gavin says:

    They’re not rattlesnakes. They’re an insect. I think cicadas. I was at the Kern River this weekend and they were “rattling” all day long too.

  • RICK says:

    There was a lot of lizards… but the rattling was constant… not like a lizard running through the bushes…
    Its was intense not knowing what it was… the closer we got to the BTN the more we found
    Our selves surrounded by the rattling… could it have been snakes??

  • Hiker Bob says:

    @Rick: Most likely, you heard lizards scuttling thru the bushes. There are a lot of Side-blotched Lizards where the trail goes thru sandy portions of the riverbed. Especially now that the weather’s warmed up.

  • RICK says:

    Good Morning… I finally made the trip to BTN. When I got there it was packed with people bungee jumping.
    It was awesome… I think I might do that next time i go on this hike…I found a great place
    By the river to have lunch.. unfortunately for us…my wife left our food in the fridge lol
    But we had peanut butter protein bars and bread…
    On our way we heard a lot of rattling in the bushes… was the rattling caused by snakes or bugs??
    All in all it was a great day… we completed the hike in 8 hours. we took a lot of pictures.

  • Hiker Bob says:

    @The Man: Just past the bridge and around the bend is a remnant of the road, on the east side of the stream, that makes a nice flat area above the stream bed. My son and I pitched a tent there and stayed overnight many yrs ago.

    There are small trout in the stream but as always, if you depend on catching some for food, you usually strike out. As you approach the bridge, you will see a green shipping container within a fenced in area where I believe the bungee guys keep their gear.

    And on the bridge itself, you will see a large red square painted on the upstream side of the bridge above the deepest part of the gorge. That’s your launch point for the bungee jump.

  • the man says:

    Also is the bridge to nowhere (the end of the hike) where they do bungee jumping? I am interested in incorporating that into my trip.

  • the man says:

    I wanted to know the best place to camp for an over-nighter. Also is it worth bringing a fishing pole to fish in the river?
    Thank you

  • Hiker Bob says:

    @RICK: At an easy pace, with time at the bridge to eat lunch and maybe go for a swim, plan for 6-7 hours on the trail. Click on my name for my BTN Website for photos and maps of the hike. The last time I did this hike, guiding a couple “first-timers”, it took us 10 hours but we did a lot of sightseeing. If you just hoof it, you could probably do this hike in 6 hrs or less, but it wouldn’t be as fun.

  • RICK says:

    all together back and forth how long will it take? 11-12 hours?

  • Jaime says:

    Completed the hike today. It was awesome. We did it in 5 1/2 hours. I loved it.

  • Jaime says:

    Three friends and I are doing the hike tomorrow with a meet up group. The only thing is that the group seems to be a bit rushed. They stress the fact that if you are of out shape or will slow them down by taking pictures, not to go on the hike. I can keep up but they want to do it in 5 hours. Wish me luck. lol. I’m going with them because I don’t know the way. The second time around I will take pictures and chill. :)

  • Hiker Bob says:

    @Rick: You will enjoy this hike. Give yourself 6 to 7 hrs at least. Sunset will be around 8PM on 6/25, so that shouldn’t be a problem. If you get to a point on the trail where you aren’t sure which way to go. Usually someone will come along that can give you directions. Bring food for lunch/snacks and water. I don’t recommend drinking the river water unless you filter it. And, bring a small towel, fun to take a swim below the bridge to cool off and towel off afterwards.

  • RICK says:

    Thanks again… i’ll be making the BTN trip this 06/25 hope to have good weather
    and i wont be bringing my bike :)

  • Hiker Bob says:

    @Rick: If you’re talking about mountain biking to the trailhead parking lot, that’s doable, if you’re in shape for it. Wouldn’t advise doing it on the weekends though, highway 39 ain’t exactly bike friendly.

    The BTN trail is NOT mtn bike-able in my opinion, once you get past the first river crossing. You’d be carrying your bike most of the time and it’s just not worth it.

  • RICK says:

    Thanks Hiker Bob.
    Is it possible to ride my way up there on a mountain bike?
    noted i would be getting off to cross the river, but i was wondering if the trail is
    bike friendly?

  • Hiker Bob says:

    @Rick: The BTN Trailhead is a small (about 30 cars) parking lot with a bathroom and its as safe as any trailhead parking lot, I guess. I’ve never had a breakin. They do require you have an Adventure Pass though. Click on my name for my BTN Website, then click on “Basic Hike Info” link.

  • RICK says:

    is it safe to leave my car on the road… i dont want to get car jacked….

  • Hiker Bob says:

    Well, because of the cool, cloudy weather, decided to postpone my hike until next week. Summer is going to come to So Cal one of these days.

  • Hiker Bob says:

    Anyone up for a guided hike to the BTN? This Thursday (6/9/11) , I’m taking my next-door neighbor on this hike, it will be his first time. If you’d like to join us, we plan to be at the FS Ranger Station at the entrance to Azusa Canyon, at 8:00 AM.

    Click on my name for my BTN Website.

  • Eli says:

    Thanks hiker bob big help cant wait…

  • Hiker Bob says:

    @Eli: The water level is about mid-thigh now at the first two crossings. Very doable as long as you watch your step. The first crossing has a cable to hang onto which makes it easier. Make sure you take along the “10 Essentials” on this hike, especially water. Give yourself at east 6 hrs to do this hike. Click on my name for my BTN Website for map, photos and other info.

  • Eli says:

    Would love to do this hike gor my bday tomorrow.. Im a beginnr ne one k.w how high the water is..any tips wud b appreciatd

  • Jaime says:

    @Modern Hiker. That sounds awesome. I’d like to go. Hopefully its not the weekend of the 21st.

  • terry says:

    just got back from a car ride up big tujunga canyon > crest > with lunch at newcombs. got home and got excited about exploring the SGM and swimming holes……which, after many hours of surfing lead me to here!

    hiker bob, are you still doing your hike tomorrow? the FB link doenst work…..


  • Hiker Bob says:

    @Sue: My advice, leave the dog at home. In about a month, the water should be low enough for the dog to cross safely. Also, is your dog used to trail walking? If not, I wouldn’t take him on this hike. It would be too hard on his paws.

  • sue says:

    Agghhh!!! If anyone reads this by morning… we are planning to hike to the BTN tomorrow morning, and wanted to know if we could/should take our dog. He is a 110 lb doberman. I’ve read the water is deep and strong currents… he is a atrong dog but I am wondering if anyone has taken a dog while the water is high?

  • sue says:

    I noticed the picture of the Hiker Guy just past the bridge. I have been there several times, but that stretch of trail past the bridge was so scary that I don’t want to go on it again! We ran into some rangers who said that they were going to work on making it safer. (This was last year) Has it been improved? If not, is there any other way to get down to those great pools?

    • Modern Hiker says:

      @sue – As far as I know, I don’t think there have been any improvements, but getting down to those pools is a not-too-difficult scramble. I think it looks worse than it actually is – I’ve taken some beginner-hikers (aged 20s-30s) down there with no trouble at all.

  • Hiker Bob says:

    Click on following links for some photos of our Friday, 4/29/11 hike to the BTN:
    #1: Vienna & Dennis making first crossing
    #2: Me at the south end of the Bridge
    #3: Me at the north end of the Bridge


  • Jaime says:

    @The Hike Guy. Did you cancel your trip to BTN on May 7th?

    • Modern Hiker says:

      @Jaime – The Hike Guy is starting the PCT this week, so he won’t be leading a trip to the Bridge to Nowhere – although I may take up the reins later on in the month.

  • Hiker Bob says:

    Met Dennis and his girlfriend Vienna Friday morning at the Ranger Station at the mouth of Azusa Canyon. We then drove up to the BTN Trailhead and started out on our big adventure to the BTN. Weather was perfect, sunny but not too hot. A few of the river crossings were pretty exciting, especially for Vienna but she was a trooper and slogged thru them. Got to the bridge, had lunch, took some pics then headed on back. We finally got back to the cars at 7PM after 10 hrs on the trail. Will post some photos soon.

  • daniel says:

    so my friends and i went on sat and it was AWESOME!!!!

    the water was freezing, but after a while, we actually enjoyed the coolness of the water. and it was more like a fun adventure than a simple hike. wading through rivers, trying to find trails, hiking up way high on a super narrow trails, sometimes having to come down 20 feet of rock wall by using the ropes.

    definitely going back there. one of the best hikes ever.

    thanks for all the info.

  • daniel says:

    holy moly. hahahahaha. i’m simultaneously excited and scared. hahahahaha

    aite sounds good. we plan on hitting the trail at 7am, so hopefully there won’t be any time constraints for us.

    thanks for all the info! i’ll let you know how it goes. thanks!

  • Hiker Bob says:

    @Daniel: I hiked up the East Fork Canyon last Fri (4/15) but didn’t make it to the BTN due to time contraints. The water level at the two intial crossings was about crotch-level. Click on link below to see a photo I took at the 2nd crossing near old bridge abutments:


    I just wore my quick-dry nylon trunks or if you have quick-dry hiking shorts, just wear them. Just don’t have anything in your pants pockets that can’t get wet. Just to be safe, I had my cell and camera in a zip-loc bag in my backpack, in case I fell down in the river.

  • daniel says:

    thanks bob!

    i do have keene’s. i guess i’ll be packing swim trunks too.

    i can’t tell from browsing on your website, but have you gone on this hike recently? do you know where i can get the info on the water level of the river? i just want to know how deep the water will be when we are crossing. also if the currents are too strong, then we may not do this.

    thanks again!

  • Hiker Bob says:

    @Daniel: Yes, unless posted, most trailhead parking in the SGM’s require the Adventure Pass. Click on my name above to get my BTN Website and then click on “Basic Hike Info” link.

    And for this hike, this time of the year, I strongly recommend you wear Teva’s or Keene’s river sandals. Flip-flops won’t work because the force of the river’s current will suck em right off your feet. Also, quick-dry nylon hiking shorts or swim trunks recommended not anything cotten.

    Later on in the Summer, the water level recedes enough to “rock hop” the crossings in regular hiking boots.

  • daniel says:

    oh yeah one more question:

    there seems to be quite a few river/stream crossings…do you recommend that we wear watershoes for this hike? also how long would the roundtrip hike take?


  • daniel says:

    thanks hiker bob!

    btw, do most of the san gabriel hiking destinations require adventure pass?

    i know the sturtvesant falls hike did…

  • Hiker Bob says:

    @Dennis: in about two weeks, the water level should have abated enough to make the river crossings less risky. I want to do this hike again and make it to the BTN this time. I’d be glad to show you and your GF the way. How does Friday, 4/29 sound?

    Click on my name again for my BTN Website, then scroll to the bottom for an E-mail link. We can coordinate on a time to be at the trailhead parking lot ( I have an Annual Adventure Pass + second car pass) and I can give you my recommended “Things to bring” list. If you’re in “good shape” this hike is very doable but it helps to have someone along that knows the way the first time you do it.

  • dennis says:

    Hiker bob, thank you for your detailed info and the map. we will definitely be printing that out! I’m only going with my girlfriend, and we have never hiked more than probably 5 miles. very beginner status, but we are in okay shape. However, we would love to do this hike, but want to be very prepared. we are thinking of not going this friday because the weather doesn’t look good. It says it’s about 61 degrees. We will go when it’s sunny. when will you go hiking again to BTN, Hiker bob?

    and great story Christopher! I’m glad to know how deep the river water is. We’ll make sure to bring out the speedo, haha.

  • Christopher says:

    I did make it to BTN on Friday, although I took a rather long winded route. I was under the impression to stay along the river until you reach the bridge & against my better judgment (I saw the ridge road & thought “that’s it”) I continued to do this until I got to a completely impassable part; steep rock sides, narrow channel for water & flowing extremely hard & fast. I put my gear to the side, thinking “I’ve made it this far, damn if I’m going to turn back now” & hopped in. A) The river at this point was very deep (up to my chest) & B) I would have to be a salmon to swim through the current; I turned back. Talking to a guy panning for gold, he told me I’d reached the narrows & at this level it is NOT safe to make a go at it, thank god for common sense ;) I doubled back and caught the ridge to the bridge. All & all a fantastic day, perfect weather, gorgeous river & scenery. I would not recommend this hike to a beginner (at least not now). I’m guessing as the summer moves along, many parts of the river become much more shallow. Right now, you have to be very careful crossing. Hiked out as sun was setting, campers set up all over, men panning for gold, very peaceful…love this hike! Was a pleasure to meet Hiker Bob along the way! Cheers

  • Hiker Bob says:

    @Dennis: Click on my name for my BTN website with photos and a printable Topo© map. I wouldn’t recommend this hike for a “beginner.” But if you do go, don’t go alone, bring water/food and wear river sandals and quick dry shorts, you’re gonna get wet.

    The two initial river crossings were a little scary but doable. Don’t cross at the first point just north of Heaton Flats, wade around the rock wall and you will come to a blue nylon rope stretched across the river, cross there and use the rope to keep your balance.

    The second major crossing is when you come to the old bridge abutments, there’s some fallen tree trunks laid across the river, cross there.

    There’s been a major rock slide at GPS coord 34° 15.4′ N 117° 45.1’W but you will see the “new” trail going up and over it.

    When you come Swan Rock where the trail goes up and around the bend, keep to the West side until you come to the widening stream bed where the trail goes up the northwest side on remnants of the old road. If you get to this point, you’ve got about a mile to go until the BTN

  • dennis says:

    How difficult is this trail for begginers, Hiker bob how are the conditions on the trail. Does anybody know of a phone number to call for more information. I really love this blog and thanks for the info.

  • Hiker Bob says:

    Well, I didn’t make it all the way to the BTN. Did meet Christopher on the trail, though, and I think he made it all the way to the Bridge. I made it to about the 3 mile mark from the TH north of Swan Rock. I made a mistake and crossed over the river and ended up on the West side in the “Yucca Patch from Hell!” Next time I do this hike, I’m bringing some pruning shears and do a little “trail maint” on some of the Whipple Yuccas alongside the trail.

    Saw a lot of Side-Blotched Lizards along the sandy portions of the trail and lot’s of wild flowers like the Common Wallflower, Phacelia, Baby Blue Eyes, Indian Paint. Will post a few photos tomorrow.

  • Christopher says:


    I’m also heading out to BTN this morning…looks like it will be an incredible day!

  • Hiker Bob says:

    The weather is supposed to be pretty nice tomorrow (Fri, 4/15) and I’m going to hike to the BTN and check out the condition of the trail. Welcome to join me. I plan to be at the trailhead parking lot between 8-8:30AM, look for a black X-Terra. Will post note about the hike on Saturday.

  • Hiker Bob says:

    @Daniel: Yes, a Adventure Pass is required to park at the trailhead lot. REI or SportsChalet sell them. There’s a Stop-N-Go market at the entrance to the canyon (Sierra Madre and Azusa Ave) that sells the to.

  • daniel says:

    Is parking permit required?


  • Hiker Bob says:

    Did a short hike yesterday to the first crossing area of the BTN Trail and shot a short vid (click on link below). As you can see the river is going pretty good but is crossable a little farther up from where the video is shot. Where the young man drowned last Friday, was further downstream, just below the TH parking lot near Coyote Flats. Click on my name for my BTN Website.


  • Hiker Bob says:

    Sadly, we had a reminder last Friday about the danger of doing this hike in the early Spring. This time of year, that first stream crossing just north of Heaton Flats can be a dicey one. Click on link below for the KCBS news article:


  • Rachelle says:

    @hikeguy: That sounds awesome! Unfortunately, I’m doing the Revlon run/walk that same day.
    @Betty: I’d be up for it. You can pm me in the forum (rbs22). A friend may want to join, too, after she gets back from Germany. Let me know!

  • James says:

    Hey Gavin,

    I’m also a part of LABC on meetup. IF you guys do an overnighter, I would love to join you all. What do you think about camping at fish fork campsite?

  • Gavin says:

    Also I’m in the Los Angeles Backpackers Club on MeetUp.com. We’re going to be doing a Bridge To Nowhere trek, but it may be an overnight backpacking trip.

  • The Hike Guy says:

    @Jaime, @Betty, @Rachelle and everyone else: You’re welcome to join my hiking club on it’s annual trek up to the Bridge to Nowhere. This year it’s going to be on May 7th. Check out my Facebook page for more info: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=200519603300036. Newbies welcome!

  • Betty says:

    RACHELLE…Didnt make it but still am dying to go…. we should do a group thing or sometihng so the newbies dont get lost…. :)

  • The Hike Guy says:

    @Jaime, I’d call the Glendora Ranger Station or stop in on your way up the canyon to check conditions. 626-335-1251

  • Jaime says:

    Thanks Guys. My plans are to go this weekend. Would you recommend I wait till summer?

  • Hiker Bob says:

    @Jaime: I agree with our Blog Host. Your likelyhood of encountering a bear or mtn lion are very, very remote. As far as MD’s comment about the human “bad guys”, have never experienced that problem hiking up the East Fork to the BTN.

    My only warning would be at this time of year, with snow-melt off Mt Baldy, is that the first river crossing just passed Heaton Flat, may be a little dicey. Click on my name for my BTN Website.

  • Jaime says:

    I ‘ve made plans to visit this saturday. I’m very excited and nervous. Thanks for all the info. Is bear mace and a gun really necessary?

    • Modern Hiker says:



      While technically most of the San Gabriels are in bear and mountain lion country, your chances of seeing either are incredibly slim. Just know the proper actions to take if you DO see them.

      I’ve been hiking in and around Los Angeles for six years now, and never once have I felt like I needed a gun. You should be fine. Relax, enjoy the scenery and river crossings, and have fun.

  • M.D. says:

    that trail is fun and easy but if you are planning to go up past the BTN make sure you are aware of your surroundings. Recently there are some people who think it is fun to mess with you up in the narrows and past by throwing rocks and threating you. Me and my girlfriend go gold hunting/ camping up there and have seen it and have had it happen to us. bring bear mace (not pepper spray does nothing) or something else (gun or whatever), because it has the ability to save you if it gets bad. we lucked out some guy had a gun and told the guys messing with us to leave or get shot. but in the 10 years i have been going up there i have olny had bad experiance’s this year…. Most people are friendly and just enjoying the view and day in the mountains. Other then the few spoil sports up there I love it up there very pretty and fun..

  • Gavin says:

    Rain rain go away…

  • Rachelle says:

    @Elizabeth: did you make it out to BTN? I’m a beginner, too–let me know if you’d be up for a hiking buddy on one of these amazing hikes! :)

  • Elizabeth Rodriguez says:

    Yah everyones so nice and all….Well you’ll get there and backpacking and camping in no time!!! Im hoping to make it out next week on my day off so im looking forward to it.. Thanks again for all the tips :)

  • Gavin says:

    Isn’t this site the greatest? Such great info and people… I had to cancel my trip to the Bridge to Nowhere last weekend due to work. Really bummed. I’m moving this weekend, but the next weekend I’m hoping to make it out there. I’ll be backpacking in and camping though.

  • Elizabeth Rodriguez says:

    u guys are all awesome thanks so much!!!! Im super duper psyched now and have that song in my head (just keep swimming just keep swimming) Cant wait and thanks again for the tips!!

  • James says:


    Make sure to bring enough water as well, and don’t fill up your cup from the river! If you have a water filter, you can filter the water into your cup, but don’t just drink it straight.

    I would just bring enough water. I brought 2 Liters last time and it wasn’t enough, I ran out about 2/3 the way back. So I would bring maybe 2 1/2 liters next time.

    Like stated above, just take your time on the hike (some sections can be dangerous if overlooked and not concentrated on).

    Last bit of advice, don’t give up! You can definitely reach the bridge, you just have to keep pressing on and keep following the river north :). It may seem like its taking awhile, but I promise it’s totally worth it to make it.

  • Hiker Bob says:

    @Elizabeth: Click on the link in my message above to Gavin and this will give you a Google Maps view of the BTN Trailhead. You can then get driving directions from your house in Riverside.

  • Elizabeth Rodriguez says:

    Hey there :) This is the first time Im trying out a hike…and this sounds soo AWESOME!!!! Is there any way I can get directions coming from Riverside..91 and any tips would be appreciated..Got the sandal things down :) and I think I need an adventure pass (this is required just for hiking as well correct) thanks again and hope you all have a great MONDAY!

    • Modern Hiker says:

      @Elizabeth – if you click on the Map Trailhead link, it should bring up a Google Map for directions to the trailhead. If this is the first hike you’re trying in L.A., take it easy – don’t rush to get to the bridge if you’re taking too long crossing the water. Make sure you have the 10 essentials and let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to be back. And have fun!

  • Hiker Bob says:

    @Gavin: Click on the following link for Google Maps © Satellite view of the parking lot/East Fork Trailhead (Green Arrow):


  • Gavin says:

    Hey guys, just want to make sure, do these directions to the trailhead look accurate coming from LA? I know you already gave directions, but I want something I can load into my iPhone GPS just to be sure.


    • Modern Hiker says:

      Gavin, two things:

      1. Glendora Mountain / Ridge Roads are sometimes closed. I would either call or check CALTRANS before you head up this route, or just take the CA-39 north and take a right on East Fork Road. That’s usually what I do when I head to this trail.

      2. The trailhead is at the end of Camp Bonita Prairie Forks Road. Shoemaker Canyon is another old attempt to road-ify the canyon until a washout, and is not a road you can actually drive on. Hope that helps!

  • Hiker Bob says:

    @Kaylie: Any REI (and I think Sports Chalet too) sells both the Daily or Annual “Adventure Pass” As well as most USFS Ranger Stations. In Azusa, at the corner of Sierra Madre Blvd and Azusa Ave (Hwy 39) there’s a Stop n Go market that sells them.

  • Kaylie says:

    yay can’t wait! Ok one last question from the newbie lol where do you get your adventure pass?

  • Kaylie says:

    thank you! Im taking my fiance camping for his valentines day present and to bungee-jump off the bridge. do you have to pay to camp past the bridge?

    • Modern Hiker says:

      Nope – as long as you’re off the private land near the bridge (which is pretty clearly marked) and you’ve posted your Adventure Pass on your car at the trailhead, the backcountry camping is free!

      Have fun! I’m thinking about doing the same for my birthday this year …

  • Hiker Bob says:

    @Gavin: I’ve worn them both barefoot and with ankle socks. The ankle socks helped to keep small rocks from getting into the shoes which sometimes happens when stream crossing. Again, a personal preference.

    What’s really slick about these shoes is their quick-snug lacing system. Makes it a snap to take off and put back on.

    • Modern Hiker says:

      Whenever I hike this trail, I always wear a pair of Keen Newports. Those quick-lace straps are fantastic, and the Keen toe guard helps keep you from stubbing your toes on any rocks while you’re wading through the water (which looks pretty awesome right now, btw). I’d recommend at least taking a pair or two of lightweight ankle socks, ’cause I usually end up with little rocks in the bottom of my sandals or some irritation from the straps when I go barefoot.

      Either way, you’re gonna love this hike!

  • James says:

    I go barefoot in mine that are like that. I don’t think they would be very comfortable in socks.

  • Gavin says:

    Those are pretty cool… do you know if they’re made for bare feet? Or socks? Or just personal preference?

  • James says:

    I agree with bob. Thats actually sort of what I meant by sandal, I have a pair that are similar to those that I use on my BTN hikes and they perform very very well (although the tread on mine are wearing thin, maybe I’ll grab a pair of those Keene’s!)

  • Hiker Bob says:

    @Gavin: A good alternative to carrying a pair of teva-type sandals for river crossings are the Keene Arroyo II Trail sandal. They combine the functionality of a river sandal and a lightweight boot. They’d be perfect for a hike up to the BTN. Click on link below for a description of this shoe:


  • James says:

    I wear sandals that strap to the back of my foot as well, so that the current doesn’t take them off when I cross the river. I tried flip flops once, lost one and was kind of screwed, bare-foot hiked the rest of the trail, lol.

    I’ve tried crossing in boots, it really sucks because the inside of the boots and your socks never dry, even on hot days. It just becomes a blister-fest.

    Switching boots out for sandals or like-wise for the crossings is always an option, but there are so many crossings so rapidly, it doesn’t make common sense to me.

    Trail running shoes could be an option, although I don’t own any so I can’t really speak for those. I would assume you would have the same problem as the boots.

    So I would go with sandals that are strapped on pretty well, have good grip, and a pretty good/stiff sole.

    Hope that helps!

  • Gavin says:

    Hey James thank you so much for the quick response! Great info. I appreciate it. I’d plan on camping out there. When you cross the river, do you bring water shoes in your pack or do you just get your boots wet? Thanks again.

  • James says:

    Hey Gavin, I just did this hike over the weekend, and the river crossings weren’t too bad. They were about to my mid thigh, but the waters are still moving fairly quickly. I would guess that you might want to carry your dog across one or two of the crossings.

    Here is a pic I took this weekend of some kids who brought their dog and carried him across one of the crossings.


  • Gavin says:

    I’m thinking of doing this hike with my dog. How deep are the river crossings? I know we’ve gotten a lot of rain recently… My dog hates to swim, but he’s OK with walking through shallow water. Any other advice would be appreciated.

  • James says:

    Yes, you can camp before and after the bridge. I would recommend camping after the bridge, as its nearer to the water, in the beautiful canyon, and you get to see the bridge on your hike back :)

    There are also many places to camp before the bridge, although I have not camped before the bridge before so I can’t comment on any good spots.

    One thing to note is that you can’t camp within a certain distance of the bridge, you’ll see signs letting you know camping isn’t allowed in this area.

  • Kaylie says:

    Can you camp anywhere on this hike or past the bridge?

  • Hiker Bob says:

    @Tanya, I agree with the host. If you’re experienced and pack the appropriate outerwear, hiking to the BTN is doable in the Winter but not recommended after a heavy rainstorm. The East Fork of the San Gabriel is one of the main watershed routes for Mt. Baldy and the water level/intensity can really change quickly.

    Click on my name for my BTN Website for map and info on this hike.

  • tanya says:

    Can this hike be done in the winter? or will it just be too cold with all the river crossings?

  • Philip says:

    I have been meaning to head out and try this hike for a while, and I plan on going tomorrow. I think I may even camp for a night. Thanks for the great write up! Also cheers to Bob Dollins for his write up and topo map.

  • Bob Dollins says:

    Well, won’t be doing the hike this Sat as planned. But I did do a Reconnaissance hike of the BTN Trail yesterday. Only hiked to Swan Rock and the trail is in excellent condition since the last time I hiked it a few years ago.

    As for the first crossing (above Heaton Flat), though the stream is running good, the water level is not an issue. And people have been maintaining the trail by lining the edges of it with rocks, so it is very easy to follow. The little foot bridge over the junction of Laurel Gulch (about 2.25 miles from TH) has been replaced with a very nice one with handrails and a sign indication you’re entering the Sheep Mountain Wilderness of the Angels Nat’l Forest.

    Click on my name for more info about this hike.

  • Bob Dollins says:

    Any “first timers” like a guided hike to the BTN? Join me this Saturday (10/16/10). I plan to be at the East Fork parking lot by 7:30AM – look for a black X-terra with a Maui Diver Flag sticker on rear window.

    It’s supposed to be in the low 80’s that day, so the heat shouldn’t be an issue. Bring a towel, nothing more refreshing than a dip in that ice cold water below the bridge.

    Click on my name for my BTN website.

  • Sporkbunny says:

    I wouldn’t recommend dogs unless they are very tough and have booties. I had to help rescue two golden labs near the bridge when it was discovered their paws were shredded by this rough terrain. One needed surgery aferwards. :/

  • Chris says:

    Thank you bob for the information!

  • Bob Dollins says:

    @Chris: As long as your dog is used to trail walking (it’s a 10 mile loop), no problems. And, shhhhh – don’t tell anybody, you don’t have to keep it on a leash ;-D Just be aware, there are rattlesnakes in the brush.

    Click on my name for my BTN Website including a link for a printable TOPO! generated trail map

  • Chris says:

    Maybe I missed it but I was wondering if you can bring your dog to this trial?

  • Mike says:

    Did this trail on Labor Day with a large group of 20 people. Very fun trail! Favorite hike to date.

  • Akiko Higashi says:

    I’m gonna be hiking this trail tomorrow (9/4/10) with some friends, I’m a casual hiker, nothing too hardcore. I was really excited when I found this web site and the trail, but I started to reading comments from people. And now I’m little nervous (still excited too) if this is gonna be a hike for more experienced hikers. Is there any chance you get lost – the hike path is gonna be clear enough? I’m guessing water wouldn’t be too high around this time, but would it be high? Or high enough to swim? Do I need to take a rope or something?

    I’d appreciate any advise or tips. I just wanna make sure we’re gonna have fun and safe!


  • shaun says:

    Modern Hiker could not be more spot on. It is impossible not to have a good time on this trail. Five of us set out to find the bridge. About an hour in, we took an opportunity to swim. Though the water was a bit chilly, it was refreshing in the mid-day heat.

    After passing through the river a bunch of times (so much fun!) and about 4.5 miles in, we called it quits. Why? We got a late start (2 pm) and it was starting to get a bit dark. We also didn’t read the entire Modern Hiker description, and thought we may have been on the wrong trail. Upon return, we realized we were a mere 10 minutes-ish away from the bridge.

    Though we “gave up” and never found the Bridge to Nowhere, we built a stronger bridge — a metaphorical bridge that connected the five of our hearts. A bridge we’ll never forget.

    So keep at the trail, but remember, it’s not about the bridge, it’s about the journey… and swimming holes.

  • Tyler B says:

    Hiked this trail (for the 2nd time) yesterday with 7 other people. It was great. It was pretty hot but the river crossings felt better than ever. The swimming under the bridge was awesome in the cold clear water and seeing a ram come down the mountain for a drink was amazing. I waited from April to July to do this hike again but im not sure i can wait that long before i do this hike again.

  • The Hike Guy says:

    Great write up, @James. Excitement, danger, snakes, and friends. Now that’s a great way to be baptized into the brotherhood of backpacking! It sounds like you hiked on the portion of the old road which had once connected to the bridge. The same part that had most likely washed away many years ago, ending any hopes of using the canyon to connect the Mojave with the San Gabriel Valley.

    When I was there in May, I saw two hapless hikers try to navigate this spot, which has become a dangerous scree, as you discovered. There were a few times I thought they were going to slide right off the side of the mountain, but they soon decided to turn around and try the much safer, easier route. Only the very skilled mountain goats can navigate that spot. I’m glad you were able to get back to a safer route!

  • James says:

    Just finished this hike today! I went on an overnighter with my girlfriend, it was her first backpacking trip EVER! This was also the first time for both of us on this trail.

    On our way up, we thought we lost the trail because we saw it on a ridge to our west, come to find out that is the path they tell you to IGNORE. Take their advice, ignore it (I’ll get to that in a bit)

    We took our time, taking breaks to swim and refill our platy packs (filtered of course haha). It was pretty smooth sailing as far as the trail goes but it was well over 100 degrees at this point and those chaparral sections are REALLY tough in the heat. We made it to the bridge about the same time as another couple who were overnighting too past the bridge. We decided to make our way around and try to find a good campsite as well. Shuffling the cliffsides after the bridge were a bit scary at times, specially the really steep ascent towards the end of the bend… but much nicer after that. We eyed a great looking site but the couple ahead of us got to is before us. We had a convo with them and then pressed on to try and find another site. After another 20 minutes of hiking and crossing the stream a couple times, AND running into a rattle snake, it was apparent that we couldn’t find a site we liked so we headed back. The couple was nice enough to let us share the spot with them (as it was rather large) and we ended up talking to them all night and they even shared a friend with my girlfriend. It was a great experience and turned out to be a blessing in disguise because the company was welcome. We took a late night swim (as it was still above 90 degrees at night) and then went to bed, which was laying on a pad in shorts with no sleeping bag whatsoever… dripping with sweat the whole time.

    Both my girlfriend and I had lost our cheesy flip flops we brought for river crossings by this time and my feet still hurt from all the barefoot river crossings afterward haha.

    We woke up the next morning and set off rather late (we took our time and had breakfast nice and slow) and it started off pretty well… until we decided that we should try the high trail along the cliff-side. This started out really promising, but soon we realized it was getting VERY dangerous. We were moving very slowly and the whole while I was trying not to have a heart attack for my girlfriends sake. We ended up hitting a section that was completely washed away. As far as I can tell, there isn’t really a way around it and this trail should be completely avoided. We lowered our packs down the cliffside with rope and ended up climbing and sliding down the side of the cliff down one of the steep chutes, I do not recommend this.

    After crossing the river below and stumbling upon a large snake skin shed, we pressed on and it was a pretty easy hike after that.

    We stopped for chilli at the double river crossing section and then moved on to finish a little before 3 o’clock.

    After all of this, my girlfriend said she had a great time and would be willing to do it again any time I am up for it haha! So I’d call that a success!

    Advice for anybody thinking about doing this hike, dont do it in the summer when it’s too hot! :X

    • Modern Hiker says:

      Great adventure, James! Welcome to the wild world of backpacking (and congrats on finding a partner who’ll rough the river-crossings with you!)

      That little stretch of cliff-road you mention is, as Kolby said, a Hikers’ Trap. Every time I go on this trail, I always warn people not to take that path, but I always see a group up there, putting themselves in unnecessary risk. I got caught in the trap the first time I went to East Fork, but gave up about a quarter of the way along the cliff and just backtracked to the safe route along the riverbank. Knowing one’s limits is an invaluable skill, even if you don’t feel like a bad-ass in the moment :)

  • Bob Dollins says:

    @Tyler B. Don’t worry. I did an overnight at the Narrows with my son in the middle of August and even though it was 115 degrees there was plenty of ice-cold water flowing. The issues with the strea,’s water height is for the initial crossing near the trail-head. By now this should not be an issue. Most, if not all snow on Baldy is gone.

  • Tyler B says:

    While some get concerned that the water is too high, i am worried about the opposite. Ive hiked this trail in April and i am hoping the water levels arent too low this time of year. Was hoping there are still good spots to swim atleast around the bridge. Do you think that’s possible? Thanks. -Tyler

  • Bob Dollins says:

    @Mary: Don’t know if you R planning to do this hike solo but you always run into at least a few people all along the trail on the weekends. If you have a GPS unit bring it so you can track your elapsed milage. Most important is get to the trailhead at the end of East Fork Road as soon as possible, like 8AM at the latest. If you start later, you hit the bridge at the hottest time of the day.

    The first two miles of this hike is were most of your river crossings will take place and the trail takes a mainly northernly direction. At about a one and a half miles you’ll come to some cabin ruins, mainly just a foundation under some trees. From here the trail heads east for about a mile, then turns to the north again. You’ll round a big bend and see Swan Rock, a white quartz formation, up on the western side of the canyon. From Swan Rock it’s about 2 more miles to the Bridge and from this point, the trail is pretty easy to see and follow.

    If you’d like a TOPO generated map of this trail with mileage notations, send me an E-mail with your “Snail Mail” address and I’ll send it to you.

    Click on my name to see my Bridge to Nowhere Website.

  • mary says:

    this hike sounds awesome but im kind of scared that i might take the wrong path. ive hiked before but it does take me a while to really feel confident of were im headed and i’ve never been on this trail. any help on thing i can specifically look out for to head the correct way ?

  • tbonemyers says:

    did this hike yesterday for the first time. one of the most fun i’ve done. water was pretty high just above the knees and the views are awesome – you wouldn’t think something like that is so close by. took us about 5.5hrs round trip with a stop at the bridge for a quick lunch.

  • Walker says:

    did this hike last wednesday for the first time. couldn’t be more stoked on it, convince a few buddys to come up with me on an overnighter next week.
    Iron fork!

  • mauimattipus says:

    Sunday, April 25 was a tough set of crossings too, with high flow and almost waist-deep areas at the fords. First time on the hike, but I’d do it again anytime. Personally, I hate riverbed hikes with big stretches of baseball-sized rocks that make for slips and stumbles, and this hike had a few stretches, but the water made up for it. A nice bonus/ break site is a few miles up where a tributary joins the East Fork from the east side and a concrete spillway was constructed. Rest up on the other side for the last stretch and enjoy the stream! Last advice- don’t ignore the advice on going up to the grade too soon- if you hit a right turn in a blasted-out U section on the grade, you’re about to hit a hardcore scramble either up or down to get around a washout. Skip going high until you’re sure.

  • Kolby says:

    I did the hike on Saturday, May 1st and then again on Sunday, May 2nd. The river was high and fast, but the hike was doable. The hardest river crossing is the first one. With the strong current, hard-to-see river rocks, and 4-feet-deep water, we carefully forded the river. (Holding hands while facing upstream works best.) Here’s a video of our first crossing: http://vimeo.com/11415349

    This was the first of six river crossings we did on the way up to the bridge. Common mistakes we saw other hikers make: crossing the river in the wrong spot (widest spot is usually the safest), crossing river when it was not necessary (and ultimately having to cross back), and missing the steep-yet-short trail up to the old road in the big wash area prior to the bridge. We saw more than a few hikers down below realize their mistake and have to retrace their steps, adding another 1/2 mile (or more) to their hike.

    I learned that lightweight socks worn in water shoes makes a big difference when it comes to protecting your feet from the sand and pebbles that you pick up during a water crossing.

  • Bob Dollins says:

    Click on my name to see my website describing various hikes in the San Gabriels and a few other places.

  • George M says:

    My wife and I are novice hikers and we wanted to do a hike up to the bridge and camp on the other side. Well we left late and started on the trail at 2pm. The water is intense and the first crossing went past our hips. My wife slipped and actually went down the river about 10 feet until she was able to grab onto a tree branch. I got to her and pulled her out. Then we came on the second crossing and it was a little better. As we were walking we caught up with another couple and they said we had 5 more crossing left before we got to the bridge. Safe to say my wife was not happy about that :) So we made it half way there and pitched camp for the night. The next day we woke up early and had a quick breakfast and headed out and guess what happened when we got to that same river crossing, she fell in again. I think its safe to say if I’m going to make it to the bridge I need to go up with friends and leave my wife at home :) All in all thought we both had a great adventures time.

  • Rick says:

    My good friend just sent this to me. It brought back so many good memories over 40 years ago.we used to get so high, hell we might have built the bridge or maybe just thought we did. We did build some living quarters for some indians out in AZ. We piled up sand and covered it with chicken wire and cement. Then we dug out the sand. Survived one brutal winter there I know that. We lived on peyote buttons and strawberry jam.I metGod and we became friends.I’m greatful for that. My friends including me are dying off these days. That is how it has to be. Stay strong you youngins because getting old is not for wimps. Love life, even when it sucks it aint that bad considering the alternitives. Enjoy the river…

  • Amanda Mauer says:

    I went bungee jumping here a few years ago and I have to say, the hike to and from was the hardest part. It was sleeting (yes, sleeting) and the guides told us that we could find our own way back from the bridge. High on the adrenaline of three jumps off the bridge, I thought that was a fabulous idea. My companion and I got quite lost and ended up crossing the chilly river about three more times than was necessary and wandering aimlessly around the woods for a while. We were just starting to panic when we happened to come upon the guides… good thing, too.

    That said, this is an amazing hike – and if you can bungee, too, DO IT!

  • Helen says:

    Just did this hike yesterday with my cousin. And, true to what’s been said in these comments, the water level was intense! We were happy to have gone on a weekend when there were plenty of people (read – more experienced) to follow. We ended up having to cross the river about 6-7 times heading to the bridge to nowhere, as some of the trail was washed out due to recent rain.

    But, being ‘suburb gals’ all our lives, this was an awesome Sunday adventure :) Thanks for posting this Casey!

  • Bob Dollins says:


    Click on my name to see my website of my BTN hike I did back in Sept 2002 (jeez, I can’t believe it was that long ago). This was the day the infamous “Curve Fire” started and chased me and a few others out of the canyon. A couple of photos on this webpage were taken inside the tunnel. The dug out tunnel entrance may have collapsed since I was last there.

  • Tay says:

    @Zé and @Bob This is what I saw at what I thought was the north end of the tunnel this past Saturday: http://twitpic.com/192uos

  • says:

    @Mike: on the topo map there is an old trail heading west up from the river (~ Laurel Gulch) to the road, but I did not notice anything obvious when I was up on the road. I’m sure it is abandoned, but I am also sure there are ways people have gone and some use-trails visible. I know near the trailhead of the BTN hike you can hike across the river and up to the road – but at that point you might as well just park on Shoemaker Cyn rd and do the RTN as a separate hike.

    @Bob: I didn’t notice anything on the north end of the tunnel when hiking through the Narrows, but I may just have not been perceptive. BTW, I’ve always enjoyed your photos of the Curve fire!

  • Bob Dollins says:

    oops, just click on my name for my BTN website.

  • Bob Dollins says:

    A couple of years ago when I last hiked to the Bridge to Nowhere, if you crossed the bridge and took the trail that went around the bend, the north entrance of the tunnel had been dug out (see photos on my website above). But, based on Ze’s 3/16/10 comment, I’m not sure this is still true.

  • Mike Epperson says:

    Thanks Ze. Is there any way to connect this trails to be able to walk through the tunnels and get to the bridge in the same day?

  • says:

    The tunnel on the north side of the bridge is caved in…there are 2 tunnels still open along the “Road to Nowhere” (not the bridge to nowhere) which was a 2nd attempt to create a road up the East Fork. That road lies on the west side of the canyon.

    Here are some links: http://www.simpsoncity.com/hiking/shoemaker.html

    and a TR I did about a hike in which we hiked through the 2 tunnels on the way back.


  • Mike Epperson says:

    I hiked this for the first time last Tuesday. I had a little trouble finding the trail at times, but by no means did it take very long to find it. There were a couple stream crossings that were midly difficult, but other than that, the hike was not very strenuous. My advice to anyone attempting this hike in the immediate future is plan to get wet. There is no way around it. I ditched my hiking boots for Teva sandals within the first mile. Even with it being my first time, losing the trail a couple times, and crossing the river at least 5 times each way, I was still able to make it in 3 hours and 45 minutes. That does not include a 30 minute stop at the bridge. Can someone please verify that there are still tunnels out there? I searched all over and couldn’t find any. The only spot where I thought might be a tunnel was completely caved in.

  • Tay says:

    So I finally made the trip up there yesterday. There was a huge amount of people who were hiking to bungee jump. The water was about 2-3 feet in some places, but we only had about 10 river crossings total. The water was quite swift, but if you take your time you will be fine. Honestly, I was really expecting it to be a little harder. Overall, I’m really glad I got to go, and I can’t wait to go back when the water is lower with some friends who are more casual hikers. Thank you for all the info Modern Hiker!

    Also, does anyone know if the ‘cave’ is completely filled in because of mudslides? We hiked through the narrows, and went up the hill to where I thought the tunnel should be, and it looked like it is almost completely filled in now. I mean I could have crawled through, but I was under the impression that you could just duck through.

  • Ellie says:

    Thanks, Modern Hiker–you’re a gentle man and I appreciate the advice. It’s sensible advice, too! But I have to wait for more patient friends I think; wouldn’t be fair to hold them all back.

  • Ellie says:

    Thanks, you guys–that’s why I asked. LOL! I’ll save my Me Tarzan-You Jane act for another day. The miles are ok, it’s the water I was concerned about. I did used to hike around salmon streams in Alaska, but it’s been a couple of decades. Thanks again.

    • Modern Hiker says:

      It is a really excellent hike, though. You could head to the trailhead and walk along the river for a bit to gauge it for yourself, or just wait until a little bit later in the summer, when water levels aren’t so high.

  • Modern Hiker says:

    Ellie, you probably don’t want to do this as your first hike. The terrain is very uneven and the river crossings can be challenging, especially this time of year.

  • HikerGuide says:

    Ellie, did you read anything above? This hike is more than 9 miles, 1,000 feet of elevation gain, with multiple crossings of a river that is deep and fast at this time of year. How would it be for a 65-year-old woman who has never hiked? It would quite possibly be a death sentence. She stands 0 chance of making it all the way in and out on her own. If you’re lucky, she’ll get rescued by a forest service helicopter. That’s if you’re lucky.

  • Ellie says:

    How would this hike be for an ole lady who’s never hiked before? Will be with a few friends. And I do mean an ole lady–65. Thanks.

  • Bob Dollins says:

    The first water crossing is the deepest, so late winter/early spring it could be tricky for a dog to cross. With all the snow we’ve had on Baldy the river should be going pretty good. I’d leave the dog home untill later.

  • andrew says:

    hey about the water i went last year and the water was realy cold my dog is full grown probly 9o lbs and is a lab he made it across but hes not scared to jump right into rushig water hes pretty much fearless of water any how some spots were easy to cross and some are kind of difficult but that was last year remember we got alot of snow this year and its been getting warm so its melting be careful and cross smartly the week days are better to go up there is less people watch out for raddlers

  • Tim says:

    Planning to do this hike on 2-20-10 — haven’t been there before. No rain for the last two weeks, but obviously some snow melt going on. My question: Can my hike-experienced but a bit deep-water-hesitant 65 pound dog handle this ok?. She loves wading in streams, but gets a little nervous when the water’s over her head, and even more so if there’s strong current. Just not sure what to expect, water-wise.


  • Hank says:

    Hey Casey,

    I’ve been reading your blog for awhile, and I love it and the great information about LA hiking you’ve made available. Your Bridge to Nowhere writeup served as partial inspiration for the trip my friends took there (which I also later wrote about on my blog). We’re definitely planning some more LA day hikes, and your blog always comes in handy. Thanks again!

  • andrew says:

    yes 10 m round trip i just went today its a fun hike

  • 1916home.net says:

    Is that 10 miles round trip? Thanks!

  • Clarence III says:

    My Father and Grandfather and I backpacked in to these spots (Bridge and the Narrows and beyond) many times in my youth, back in the 70’s. Back then it was an unkown world. Not many knew about the canyon other than those who were there to RV at Fellow’s (is it still there?) Sometime in the early 80’s, I went in for a 3 days backpack up past the Narrows, by myself. (1 Day in, stay 1, pack out day 3). I had an ideal elevated spot on the river banks. Fished for my own breakfast and dinners. Even saw a Ram on the other bank, about 100 yards from my camp, drinking water. I couldn’t believe he didn’t smell me or hear me.

    Haven’t been back since…life caught up with me, but I might just need to go back.

    Thanks for the write up. And the Photos. Very nice!

  • matt says:

    Hey are we aloud to backpack into the canyon and spend a few nights? What i mean is, is there anywhere to camp and are we aloud to, past the bridge?

  • Modern Hiker says:


    Most often, water level is higher in the spring and early summer, due to snowmelt. Of course, weather conditions – including a quick summer rainstorm – can alter conditions drastically for days.

    I believe this is the closest Ranger to the East Fork Trail:
    San Gabriel River Ranger District
    110 N. Wabash Avenue
    Glendora, CA 91741
    L’Tanga Watson, District Ranger
    (626) 335-1251
    CRS 1 800 735 2929
    FAX (626) 914-3790
    M-F 8:00 am – 4:30 pm

    If not, you can always try calling the Supervisor’s Office:

    Angeles National Forest
    Supervisor’s Office
    701 N. Santa Anita Ave.
    Arcadia, CA 91006
    Jody Noiron, Forest Supervisor
    (626) 574-5200
    FAX (626) 574-5233
    CRS 1 800 735 2929
    M-F 8:00 am – 4:30 pm

  • Jason says:

    When is water level low and when is it high? Ive gone several times but cant remember what months ive went and ive experienced waist high water and no water. Also is there a number to call to check for conditions? Ive gone in the past after rains and wasnt able to hike due to mudslides.

  • sporkbunny says:

    I’ve done this hike about 5 times. I’m looking for info on doing it as a through-hike from Wrightwood. I hear there is a way to do this but none of the trail logs I have found are current and I will lose patience if I have to bushwhack for miles. Has anyone hiked through from Wrightwood?

  • Bob Holm says:

    I have been doing this hike since the 60’s. It is great! Above the bridge holds some better hiking yet. “The Narrows” and “Iron Fork” are good spots to camp. Even mine for some gold.

  • Kurt K. says:

    I did the hike yesterday (March 1st, 2009). The water is high, cold and swift but as always, a pleasure.
    It was a rather warm day for March, the sun was out but there was a breeze and the hike was great.
    I fished along the way for some small rainbows, caught a few little guys and let the go.
    The first mile or so I came upon some gold miners, panning for their riches but soon I was all alone enjoying the scenery. Didn’t see much wild life but ran into a human here and there….
    I left at 9:00am and was back to my truck by 4:00pm.

  • John E says:

    Just did this yesterday with a buddy… had the bridge completely to ourselves. One word of advice for future travelers who might be worried about finding the final pathway to the bridge: stick to the right of the canyon AFTER rounding a bend that had a very conspicious telephone pole atop it (about 3.5 miles into the hike). You think you will be going too high above the bridge, but it gets you there. Cheers.

  • Bob Dollins says:

    I’ve done this hike a few times, including an overnite with my son a few years ago and each time it has been an adventure. I will be adding a link to a printable TOPO map to my website soon.

  • Travis says:

    We just did this hike yesterday. (10/11/08) and it was so much fun! Just make sure that you follow the trail up on the ridge to right once you are a mile from the destination. We would have been completely lost if a nice man hadn’t shown us the way.


  • Matt says:

    I attempted this hike today, but I somehow missed the turnoff where that arrow is. I wandered aimlessly up the river before I realized I was no longer going the right direction and decided to head home, as I was not sure exactly how to get to the bridge. I am going to try it again next week, I think…and hopefully I will not miss the turnoff again.

  • Sarah says:

    this hike looks awesome! did you hike this recently? do you think the water level will be the same end of the month?

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