Santa Anita Canyon
Santa Anita Canyon loop is a scenic hike through a small portion of the San Gabriel Mountains. This hike is special to me not only because it was my first hike in the United States but also because of the group I went with. I had never hiked with any of them before and I had a great experience!!
The loop consists of the Lower Winter Creek trail and the Upper Winter Creek Trail which join up at Chantry Flats. We had to follow a single gravel road which descended for about 0.2 miles to reach the Upper Winter Creek Trail. The dirt trail is well marked and maintained, though parts of the trail can get a bit confusing. The canyon is dotted with a series of dams that help keep potential flood waters under controls. The canyon also consists of a large number of cabins which are privately owned recreational residences.
Being a huge LOTR fan, the trek reminded me of Frodo’s adventures. After hiking for half a mile we reached a narrow bridge, which we promptly named, the Bridge of Khazad-dum. Continuing on this path we reached a junction where one path leads to the beautiful Sturtevant Falls and the other leads to the top of the falls. After crossing a few brooks, we reached the 50ft waterfalls, which resembles the description of Henneth Annun. The falls empty into a shallow pool where one can play if they don’t mind the icy cold water. This setting is surrounded by a beautiful forest and huge boulders.
There was a shortcut to the top of the Falls but we chose to go back on the trail to the junction and start walking on the Lower Trail. In about 20 minutes we reached the top of the Falls. The hike to the top is alongside a lovely view of the canyon and nothing can be more relaxing than to reach the summit for a soothing view of the picturesque canyon. From here on the trailed changed a bit and we were walking on a jagged path cut into the rock with streams of water flowing beside you through narrow cascades.
We continued on for 1.25 mi to reach the Spruce Grove Campground. We sat at one of the tables and started munching on all the goodies we had taken. After relaxing a bit, we continued on the Gabrielino Trail to reach the historical Sturtevant Camp, the last remaining camp from LA’s Golden Age of Hiking. Moving on, we reached the Upper Zion Trail, the place we had to say goodbye to the stream beside us. This trail has its fair share of history as well. This was the original route to Sturtevant Camp built by Wilbur Sturtevant himself (and one assumes, some helpers). After a series of fires and landslides, the trail fell out of use until the Sierra Club and volunteers from the Big Santa Anita Gang rebuilt the route. There is plaque dedicated to the volunteers at a junction, where one of the trails leads to the peak of Mount Zion.
Continuing south for a couple of miles we reached the Lower Zion Trail Junction. We skipped the Hoagee’s camp and continued on the Upper Winter Creek Trailhead so as to avoid a steep ascent in the end, even though this route was a mile longer. We reached the picnic tables of Chantry Flats and spent some time there eating and discussing the trek.