Beginning at the head of the Arroyo Seco where the Tongva Indians established a Hahamongna village over 7,000 years ago, the entire Gabrieliño National Recreation Trail is a formidable challenge for the experienced hiker.
The trail winds through gaping canyons brimming with Bigleaf Maple, Oak, Sycamore, Bay trees, and native chapparal. Once dotted with several resorts that flourished in the canyon in the early 1900s, hikers can still see the remnants of their foundations after they were washed out by a great flood in 1938. The Gabrieliño Trail ambles along the Arroyo Seco into the higher elevations of the San Gabriel Mountains where it emerges into Chantry Flats above Sierra Madre. To experience a more urban/wilderness interface, consider beginning at Debs Park in Highland Park and following the Arroyo Seco north to the Gabrieliño trailhead in Altadena - that's how explorers and conquistadors experienced the Arroyo 300 years ago.
NOTE: Due to the 2009 Station Fire, parts of the trail remain unopen to the public. See Walking Directions for a shorter stretch of the trail that is of moderate difficulty.
The western trailhead is located at end of Windsor Ave in Altadena.
DIRECTIONS TO THE START
CAR: Go west on the 210 Freeway driving through Pasadena and take the Windsor Ave./Arroyo Blvd. exit. Drive north on Windsor about 0.75 miles to where the road takes a sharp right turn and becomes Ventura Street. Just prior to that intersection is a long parking lot on the left. At the intersection there are two roads next to each other heading north. The one on the left goes down to a JPL parking lot. Head towards the one on the right with the vehicle gate. The sign marks it as the Gabrieliño Trail. Walk down this paved road to begin your hike toward the mouth of the canyon.
At the mouth of the canyon stay to the right on the paved road. The road will soon take you creek side to the amply flowing Arroyo Seco. You will cross many bridges as the pavement becomes more patchy. You will come to a junction with a sign for Lower Brown Mountain Road that starts to the right. Stay to the left and continue on the Gabrieliño Trail, now unpaved. As you continue north, admire the groves of Oak and Sycamore trees that provide a pleasant canopy for your hike. Also note the large non-native Eucalyptus trees that have taken root in the canyon.
Follow the path to Gould Mesa Campground, a well furbished area with picnic tables and fire rings. At the north end of the camp is the junction for the fire road coming down from Highway 2. Stay to the right and continue along the trail. As you continue, you will notice a number of old foundations and large slabs of concrete along parts of the canyon or down by the creek. These are remnants of a paved road, cabins, and resorts that once occupied this scenic canyon before the flood of 1938 washed them out.
You will eventually arrive at the pleasant Paul Little Picnic Area. To the right will be a small sign for Oakwilde Campground, which is where the Gabrieliño Trails continues. This part of the trail is currently closed due to the 2009 Station Fire. To return to the trailhead, turn around and follow the trail back out of the canyon.
NOTE: The hike from the trailhead to Paul Little Picnic Area is about 8 miles round trip. Also, you will make a number of creek crossing on this hike so make sure to wear shoes you don't mind getting wet if you cannot find a dry way across.
Same trailhead at the end of Windsor Ave in Altadena.
Hahamongna Watershed Park
Nestled between the Angeles National Forest and the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, the 1300 acre Hahamongna Watershed Park offers beautiful unobstructed views of the San Gabriel Mountains.
Oak Grove Drive and Foothill Boulevard
La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011