Photos and words by Chhun Tang
Our first East Fork Supply Co. group hike was one of the iconic and most well-known hikes of Southern California, the East Fork Trail of the San Gabriel River or better known as the Bridge to Nowhere. And it's exactly that, a bridge that was built in 1936, and because the roads in the area got washed out, it doesn't lead anywhere. A 10 mile out and back trail with minimal elevation gain and very reasonable distance, it's somewhere between beginner and intermediate.
We went in late October of 2014 and it was sunny and in the high 70's. The beginning of the hike starts off pretty uneventfully but then quickly takes you down to the river where the scenery changes for the better. The river at this time of year was was pretty low, we had to cross a few times and were able to pretty easily. We saw a number of groups of people in the river hanging out, doing what I found out later to be prospecting for gold. The trail isn't very well marked so we lost our way a bunch of times. Once we hiked about a few miles, we found the trail as it began to gain elevation. From that point it was easy sailing up to the bridge. On the weekends it's likely you'll see a group of bungee jumpers like we did. The bridge itself is pretty impressive. The view of the river and surrounding area is great from the bridge.
You can go beyond the bridge a bit further but we chose to just go down to the water and have lunch. There are a lot of great areas to hang out, eat and maybe watch some people jump off the bridge. It's a well traveled trail so expect lots of people. But the bad part about the high number of people is that there's a lot of trash along the way and around the bridge.
Definitely not a hike you want to do in the dead of summer, it has a lot of areas that are exposed so it can get hot. Be sure to bring plenty of water and to pack out what you packed in. If you're in the LA area, you should definitely do this hike at some point. But if you're looking for something a little more challenging and scenic, there are other options.
Trail on the way back down. It's much more apparent going down then it is going up.
DISTANCE 10 miles
TYPE: Out and back
ELEVATION GAIN 800 ft
HIKE TIME: 4.5 hours
SEASON: September through May
ANIMALS PERMITTED: Dogs, Dogs on leash
HOW TO GET THERE: From the 210 in Azusa, take Exit 40, turning north on Azusa Ave (CA-39). Go about 12 miles as the road turns into San Gabriel Canyon Road. Take a right at East Fork road and go about 5 miles until there's a hard right hand turn onto Glendora Mountain Road. At this intersection, instead, turn left staying on East Fork Road. Keep going until it ends at Coyote Flats. There's a parking lot at the top but it's usually full. There's parking on the sides of the road leading up to the lot as well.
PARKING: Parking permit required. You can use either an Adventure Pass or a day pass ($5/day), both of which are available at the East Fork Ranger Station you pass just before you get there. Adventure Passes are available at most sporting goods stores for about $30. Check here for a place near you. We highly recommend the Adventure Pass for the convenience and value.
PERMIT: Yes. Free at the trailhead.
TRAIL CONDITION: Not so good. There are a lot of areas where the trail splits off into various directions and it's not very well marked at all. It gets washed out in many areas. Basically you can follow the river until the trail starts to gain in elevation. For the most part, the trail is on the right side of the river.
HISTORY: If you're interested in more in depth information about the bridge and trail, visit the page on Wikipedia.
OTHER RECOMMENDED HIKES: Ontario Peak, Cucamunga Peak, Mt. Baldy, San Jacinto, Santiago Peak, Palos Verdes