Top Ten Los Angeles Adventures
Nothing blocks out city lights and noise like the walls of a deep, dark canyon. As you walk down the trail from the parking lot, all signs of civilization drop away with the elevation until you're left with only the squawks and chirps of your new neighbors. In this section of Angeles National Forest, you'll set up camp amid Jeffrey pines and giant boulders, with the San Gabriel River flowing nearby. Go for a swim, catch some trout, and fall asleep under a million more stars than you could ever see from your backyard.
There's a reason the Mount Wilson Observatory was built just down the road—this area has less light pollution than just about anywhere in the San Gabriels. On your way to West Fork you'll pass by the Valley Forge Campground, a slightly closer and less isolated alternative. With the trailhead just a half-hour drive from the town of La Canada, these two campgrounds offer the quickest and most complete escapes from Los Angeles.
Using West Fork as your base, you have quite a few day-hike options: Take the steep creek-side climb up Shortcut Canyon on the Silver Moccasis Trail; backtrack to the Rattlesnake Trail that climbs Strayns Canyon to the top of Mount Wilson; follow the river down to De Vore Camp and climb all the way up to the observatory on the Rim Trail. Every trail takes you through a dense riparian forest, worlds away from the metropolis just over the ridge.
Directions: From Interstate 210, drive north on Highway 2 (Angeles Crest Highway) for about 14 miles. Park in the lot at Mount Wilson Road, walk through the gate at Rincon-Red Box Road, and follow the unpaved road (careful not to choose the paved one) 6 miles to the campground.
Travel Time: Approximately 1 hour
Fee: Adventure Pass required for parking; no camping fee
Open: April-October (weather permitting)
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication