APR 17

Casey and I were looking for a spot near LA so we set our sites on the Angeles National Forest. The only problem is the place is big and there is little to no information on good spots for camping. I attempted to call several ranger stations to check park conditions and it turned out the main camping areas we wanted were under snow. I wasn't really wanting to go that route so we tried to find a spot at a lower elevation. That's when we turned our sites to the Bridge to Nowhere area.

Getting to the trail head required driving up a windy road that was covered with bicyclists. When we finally neared the parking area, it was tough not to notice the hundreds of cars in the parking lot and along the road. Not a good sign. I contemplated trying to find a different spot, but that would require at least an hour or so of driving to make that kind of change. So we said screw it, we'll deal with it.

We had to park along the road several hundred yards from the trail head,. The first thing we saw was the San Gabriel river with people scattered along the banks. And not just a few people, but dozens. That's when I started hoping that the cars were primarily for those near the entrance and not so much in the park. Wishful thinking. Once we got to the parking lot, we saw at least 4 groups of backpackers... some coming, some going. As we made our way into the park, we would encounter an endless stream of people. And the trash they left behind.

Casey leaping across the riverAs we progressed,the trail meandered along the river and forced travelers to cross several times. Believe me, this was no easy feat as the river was moving pretty well. There were several hikers that simply walked through the river to get to the other side. Since I value my feet, I was not going to try it. Instead, I would search up and down the bank for a couple of rocks that would allow me to leap across. Sometimes this was easier than others, but I was always able to find somewhere to cross. Casey also always got across, just not always dry. One slippery rock sent him into the creek. Luckily I had an extra pair of socks that he was able to use and not miss a beat.

After a couple of hours of hiking, the crowds never really let up. We did encounter a ranger that asked where we were headed. After telling him, he commented that there were a lot of people up that way and gave us details about a secret spot that would be a perfect spot for us. We thanked him and headed on. We were a little troubled that he would say "a lot of people up that way" but glad that we had the scoop on a secluded spot.

After a couple more miles, the trail splits and gives an option on how to proceed. You can stay on the high road which stays above the river or stay along the banks of the trail. The high road is the easier and more crowded path, so we naturally stayed along the river. It certainly provided to be the more technical route as it involves more river crossings, rock scrambling and searching for the trail. But I prefer it to be more difficult so the lack of people was just a bonus.

One of the other things that I found odd was the number of people panhandling for gold. These were honest to goodness prospectors with pans and buckets searching the water for gold. I'm not sure how much one could make doing this, but based on the numbers (twenty or so), there has to be something to it. And my only experience with prospectors is from the movies, but they're always crazy and packing. Since most of these guys also looked crazy, i wasn't going to find out if they had a gun. So that's me minding my own business!

As the sun started going down, we were far enough off the main trail that we saw anybody else. Finally! The downside is we also lost and found the path several times. At one point, we thought the trail ended and we attempted to fight our way through the needle bushes to get back to the main trail. Fortunately, the brush was too think to get through and we were forced to turn back, eventually finding the trail again. As we started getting close to the bridge to nowhere, we spotted several campsites along the bank of the river. They were cozy little spots with fire rings and, best of all, they were all empty. When it was finally dark enough, we back tracked a tad, and picked the best spot.

bridge to nowhereThe next morning, it was time to finally see this Bridge to Nowhere. We continued along the river until we finally came to a spot that the river cut straight through rock and the only way past was going up and over. Easier said than done. I started up the rock face and scrambled up a couple of hundred feet when I finally found the main trail and the bridge. Casey refused to follow me up (not that I blame him), so I snapped a few pics of the bridge (which was nothing special) and then literally slid back down to the river.

We went back to the camp, packed up and headed back. Since we were quite exhausted, we decided that we would try to stick along the main trail to make it easier on us. At one point, we somehow got off track and found ourselves along a very steep ledge. In order to get down, i had to do some rock climbing while Casey decided to backtrack. The only problem was it wasn't that easy to backtrack. There was one spot where it required you to leap across an opening and if you slipped, you're going to be in pain. I first tired to scale the wall, but the rocks were so loose that a small movement from Casey sent rocks tumbling down on me. Not liking that idea, I instead moved back along the lower trail to get to where Casey was and had him toss his pack over to me. Then as he jump across the gap, I made sure he didn't go over the edge. Good times.

The only thing left to get out of the park was a few river crossings and a short dirt road. Should be easy enough since we already did it once. For one of the crossings, the log that I used was clearly not stable so when it was Casey's turn, I braced the log. I momentarily lost balance and instinctively dropped everything in my hands to brace myself. Unfortunately, I was holding Casey's camera. Oops! Luckily, the camera was in a bag and I was able to quickly pull it out of the water before too much damage could be done. Once across though, we didn't encounter any more problems and it was a fairly easy hike to the car.

So overall, the park was way too crowded but by staying off the beaten path, we had a great time.

Type: Out-and-back
Trailhead: Google
Trail Map: link
Vertical Profile: link

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