The South Fork of Big Rock Creek is a real hidden gem of the San Gabriel Mountains and a Great Outdoors LA favorite. It is simply one of the most beautiful canyons in the range offering beautiful geology, diverse vegetation, and a decent chance to see Nelson’s bighorn sheep on the cliffs above the creek. Visitor-created pools in the bottom of the canyon offer the chance for a refreshing soak at the end of the hike!
(Note that the photos in this announcement were taken in the winter, when the deciduous trees are bare and most other plants are brown. The canyon should be quite green on this early August hike.)
We will meet at 9:00 AM at the intersection of Valyermo Road and Big Rock Creek Road which can be mapped here: https://goo.gl/maps/GrdaTLqeRnJUBKyG8 . This will likely be a long drive for most members so be sure to check drive time beforehand.
The first two and a half miles to the trailhead is paved, but then we will make the right turn onto Forest Service Rd 4N11 for the final two miles, which is a fairly rough native-surface road. Our hope is to have enough capacity in high-clearance vehicles to transport everyone to the trailhead from the meeting point in one trip.
IMPORTANT: To help with this planning, when you register for the hike please also email Matthew at firstname.lastname@example.org and let him know what kind of vehicle you will be driving and how many extra seats you would have for the last part of the trip.
We’ll park at the South Fork trailhead and then follow visitor-created trails up the canyon next to the creek. A recent check confirmed that the creek is still flowing well but is low enough to allow the hike. We will be crossing the creek repeatedly, so be sure to wear footwear that you’re OK getting wet. Ideally our crossings will all be possible on rocks in the creek, but there could be spots where you’ll have to wade. We will hike a little over two miles up the canyon in a very gentle gradient to a spot where it widens out to a beautiful riparian gallery forest. We will stop here to have lunch, then backtrack to our cars for a total of just under 5 miles. Along the way we’ll also pass the fish barrier that the Angeles National Forest installed in 2008 to prevent nonnative trout from entering the upper reaches of the creek where a small population of endangered mountain yellow-legged frogs is still holding on. We recommend long pants only because the vegetation might be thick in the upper parts of the canyon and poison oak and poodle-dog bush are both likely. Much of the hike will be shaded but some stretches (especially in the lower canyon) will be completely exposed so plan accordingly. Despite the shallow grade and short distance this is a moderate-difficulty hike because of the many creek crossings and the rocky nature of the path.
As always on Great Outdoors hikes, we recommend having the ten essentials (list here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1QIjEn0BQvPDH_5bSThKYl4or02Ncu5XQTun5VywOIo4/edit?usp=share_link). In particular bring lunch and snacks, enough water and electrolytes, sunscreen, and a hat if you wear one. Reach out to Matthew at email@example.com with any questions and to let him know if you’re coming as well as what kind of vehicle and extra seats you will have.