The San Gabriel Mountains are an outdoor playground that offers many hiking trails within easy striking distance of Los Angeles and the Inland Empire. In 2014, a large portion of the mountains was set aside a San Gabriel Mountains National Monument.
The area contains some of the greatest biodiversity in the country, including four wilderness areas – Magic Mountain, Pleasant View Ridge, San Gabriel, and Sheep Mountain – and unique geological features such as the San Andreas Fault.
The area hosts a variety of year-round recreational activities, including hiking, cross-country skiing, hunting, nature viewing, picnicking, water activities and horseback riding and camping.
The monument, designated in 2014, is 346,177 acres in size and is managed by the National Forest Service. The monument includes 342,177 acres of the Angeles National Forest and 4,002 acres of San Bernardino National Forest.
San Gabriel Hiking Trails
The hike to Ontario Peak is a rigorous 12-mile out-and-back trail in the San Gabriel Mountains north of the Angeles National Forest. Starting at the Ice Canyon Trailhead, near Mount Baldy, this challenging route climbs 3,884 feet to the 8,696-foot summit of Ontario Peak.
Switzer Falls Trail, in the San Gabriel Mountains of Angeles National Forest, boasts not one but two different cascades, one of which is a two-tiered drop. As you travel the 5-mile trail, you will be treated to stunning vistas of the interior San Gabriel Mountains.
Cooper Canyon Falls is a small yet scenic waterfall nestled in a verdant ravine just off of the Burkart Trail in a fairly secluded area of the Angeles National Forest.
El Prieto Trail is a strenuous 8.3 mile trek in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains near Pasadena. Hikers gain over 1,200 feet in elevation before depositing hikers atop a vista point offering panoramic views of Pasadena and beyond.
San Gabriel Mountains Campgrounds
Located less than an hour’s drive from Los Angeles up the Angeles Crest Highway, Chilao Campground is one of the closest available options for Angelenos looking to pitch a tent. Regardless of its easy access, Chilao retains its rustic, low-key charm, making it an excellent option for a quick overnight escape into the San Gabriel Mountains.