River Ride in the Angeles National Forest
By bike or on foot, you won't forget this trip along the West Fork of the San Gabriel River in the Angeles National Forest.
For those who don't know, LA County has three rivers: the Los Angeles, the San Gabriel and Santa Clara. The east and west forks of the San Gabriel converge in the mountains above Azusa, next to Highway 39, before pooling up behind two massive dams.
You can ride regular street bikes along the West Fork; there is a paved, closed road that is smooth. On weekends, you'll find quite a few young riders here, as well as dog walkers, and fishermen.
Our son loved getting his hands in the water. But most of all, he was excited to watch a man and his son catch three small brown trout (a non-native sport fish). For information on native trout, check out Cal Trout.
Remember that you need a license to fish. Please observe posted regulations.
Our two-year-old also caught a glimpse of a frog. And enjoyed climbing a big rock (with a little assistance).
In spring, the hillsides here are covered with blooming ceonothus.
Most of the first four miles of this road is fairly flat. The confluence of the West Fork with Bear Creek is a nice spot to stop. The road gets steeper as you approach Glenn Trail Camp (mile 6) and, especially, Cogswell Reservoir (mile 8). But we didn't get that far. We were happy to enjoy the gorgeous scenery.
You can also picnic at tables near the parking lot. They overlook the river.
West Fork, San Gabriel River
Adventure Pass Required
From the 210 Freeway, exit Azusa Avenue (Hwy 39). If you don't already have one, pick up an adventure pass ($5) at one of the mini-marts along the road (they display signs). Drive north 8.5 miles, past Morris Reservoir and San Gabriel Reservoir. When the road splits at the top of the second dam, don't turn right onto East Fork Road, stay left and drive a little over a mile. (If you still need a pass, buy one at the Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) area.) Slow as you approach a bridge over the river. The trailhead is on the near side of this bridge, most of the parking spaces are on the other side of the bridge.