4 - 5
FATMAP difficulty grade
In the mountains north of Azusa, deep in the canyon of the San Gabriel River, sits a concrete arch bridge starkly out of place in its wilderness surroundings.
This is the Bridge to Nowhere.
It was built in 1936 as part of a road project but was abandoned after a flood wiped out much of the construction’s progress.
The project was never resumed, and the area was later designated as the Sheep Mountain Wilderness, but the bridge survived.
It stands today as a novel attraction amid a beautiful natural setting.
It’s a popular hiking destination and a great spot for photography.
Anyone can hike to the bridge and walk across it, and you can even jump off it with the bungee jump company that operates there (must reserve in advance). The bridge is only one highlight of the 10-mile round trip through the canyon, however.
The trail follows the San Gabriel River, which flows year round and has many small cascades and wading pools.
It crosses the creek many times, necessitating getting your feet wet.
Parts of the trail follow the wide roadbed from the 1930’s project, but others weave through narrow gaps in dense vegetation.
The scenery is a mix of sun and shade, cobbly streambed, bouldery benches above the river, and views to the green mountain slopes above. The bridge is the most popular destination and turnaround point, but it’s worth continuing across it into the San Gabriel Narrows.
This is a walled-in section of canyon that’s shadier and more secluded, and where you’ll find the best swimming holes. The trail to the bridge is called East Fork Trail and is within Angeles National Forest.
You need a California Forest Adventure Pass to park at the trailhead, which must be purchased in advance.
You must also fill out a free, self-issue wilderness permit at the trailhead before starting on your hike. Note that the river is prone to flash flooding, and fatalities have occurred.
Do not attempt this hike if heavy rain is forecasted anywhere in the area.
Floods and landslides occur somewhat frequently, so you may encounter rugged trail conditions and detours following such events. Sources: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/angeles/recarea/?recid=42066 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bridge_to_Nowhere_(San_Gabriel_Mountains) http://www.bungeeamerica.com/day-details/