This is an excellent, fairly easy hike and it surprised us that we waited so long to discover it. The hike is mostly shady except for one section and there are several easy stream crossings that only require stepping across rocks. This a great family hike.
The trailhead is found ten miles above La Cañada Flintridge at the Switzer’s Picnic Area on Angeles Crest Highway. The picnic area is on the right just beyond the left turn for the Angeles Forest Highway. Make sure to have your Forest Adventure Pass as any parked car requires one.
Don’t let the picnic crowd fool you, the high begins at the bridge and the car crowd thins considerably as you go further down the trail.
The first section is wide and follows an old road to the historic Switzer’s Camp. Once past the camp, it becomes a normal San Gabriel Mountain trail and leaves the stream bed to climb the hill on the right bank. This is to avoid the series of waterfalls that would otherwise block access to the lower reaches of the canyon. This section has some exposure but the trail is wide and safe.
Once the trail drops back down to the stream, hikers can go left to the Switzer Falls or right to Bear Canyon. We first went to the left to explore the waterfalls, which are found just a few minutes upstream. This isn’t a large waterfall compared to Eaton Canyon or Sturdevant Falls, but is a very pretty spot where you’ll be unlikely to be alone (it is popular). Even on Thanksgiving Day, we shared the view with several groups.
Even better than the falls was the hike in the other direction, down Arroyo Seco toward Bear Canyon. The trail narrowed only a bit and continued to follow the stream through a very picturesque section of canyon. At times, the trail’s path isn’t completely clear, but it isn’t too hard to pick up if you’re watching for it.
We turned around at the junction of Bear Canyon and Arroyo Seco, as we had a Thanksgiving meal later and weren’t ready to have a longer hike. It was hard, though, as Bear Canyon looked inviting and we knew we could foll0w our ‘just one more bend’ tendency for quite a bit further.
This was one of the few trails we’ve hiked that was uphill on the way home, but it was mild enough that we barely noticed.
This is a relatively easy hike except for a couple of moderate hill climbs and sections of the trail that are exposed for those with a fear of heights. If you bring children, keep them close on the high section. Also, while the water appears clean, it must be treated before drinking.