Living in a city leaves one feeling winded. Constant noise, lights, and action mean your brain is consistently on high alert.
Escaping to the wilderness is crucial for one’s health, and studies show that a daily walk through natural spaces helps in mitigating unhealthy rumination. In other words, it is the ultimate de-stressor. Our brains react to nature like they would to meditation.
This is why Sturtevant Falls, a hidden, natural gem not far outside Los Angeles, is one of the most popular hiking destinations for city residents. It is close, beautiful, and convenient for those looking for a short escape from city life.
Sturtevant Falls Location and Trails
Located near Sierra Madre, California, this trail spans a total of three miles, ending up at a 50-foot-tall waterfall located within the San Gabriel Mountains.
It is a relatively easy hiking trail to traverse and is open to any kind of nature enthusiast. You can ride horses, walk dogs, or simply walk on this trail.
Sturtevant Falls is just one of the Los Angeles waterfall hikes, so there are a lot of people from the sprawling city of the west looking to get away from the hustle and bustle.
Why it’s So Popular
A major reason for its popularity is the rather isolated feel to it all. The start of this trail is in a valley, quietly hidden amongst a rugged forest.
The hike itself is absolutely beautiful. You follow a creek that runs through Santa Anita canyon for the duration of the entire walk, meaning you are accompanied by the peaceful bubble of slow-moving water. It is the perfect quiet get away, and the treat at the end makes it even more worthwhile.
How to Start Your Journey
The trail starts in the Chantry Flats from which a paved road will lead you to a hidden, antiquated resort.
If you wish to walk the path less traveled, there is also a more rugged option hidden alongside the paved road that will lead you the beginning of Sturtevant trail.
Once you reach the end of either the paved or rugged path, you will be at Robert’s Camp, the first private resort you will encounter on this hike. It is a beautiful sight. Old cabins are tucked away in the valley with old cobblestone paths weaving between the homes.
Once you take a few pictures, go through this camp and onto the Sturtevant trail.
Be Courteous as You Hike
There are a plethora of private campgrounds all along the Sturtevant trail. They are all rather turn-of-the-century, giving you the sense that you have walked back in time the second you stand amongst the buildings.
This is a huge get away for Los Angeles residents, so hidden resorts are an expected encounter. A great deal of these campgrounds, including Sturtevant Camp, are private residences that are occupied on a seasonal basis. So, when hiking through these areas, be courteous of the people living there.
The Waterfall and Other Ways to Get There
Sturtevant isn’t the most impressive of waterfalls. Its height comes in at around 60 feet, while the amount of water rushing down the cliff face isn’t overwhelming by any means.
It is gorgeous, however, and the large pool it forms at the bottom would be a wonderful reprieve from the heat of the Los Angeles area sun.
The San Anita Loop
You can also get to this part of the falls by taking a lengthier, 9.5 miles hike. This is called the Santa Anita Loop trail, and it follows the creek as it winds through the wilderness of the west.
The Santa Anita Loop trail starts at the same point that the Sturtevant trail does, leading from the Chantry Flats down a paved road to Roberts camp.
Because it is a loop, you can choose to see the falls first or last. This trail takes about five hours, but it goes through beautiful meadows and hidden natural beauty that will certainly recharge the spirit.
Best Time of Year to Go
Water isn’t consistently flowing down the waterfall all year round. Because of the rather arid environment, catching water flowing down the cliff face will be dependent upon how much rain the area has received.
Going in the middle of the summer during wildfire and dry season is going to be slightly disappointing, so when do you go?
Pinpoint Los Angeles’ Rainy Season
Los Angeles doesn’t have much of a rainy season, but it has enough of one to give the falls a substantial boost.
So, if you are going on a special mission to see the falls at their peak, head out there after the winter rain falls. It will be slightly cooler than in the depths of summer, and you will get to see a true, gushing waterfall.
9 Tips for Your Best Hike at Virginia’s Finest Hiking Spot: Old Rag Mountain
The name “Old Rag Mountain” might not conjure up images of beautiful trails for hiking.
But for those who have been lucky enough to experience a hike on Old Rag Mountain, they would probably agree the name doesn’t give the views justice.
Things to Keep in Mind on This Hike
One of the most difficult things you might find along this hike is a place to park. As mentioned, it is an incredibly popular spot for city residents, so it is never lacking in ample visitors.
On weekends, parking has been reported to be backed up half way down the road that leads to the trail entrance. The trail itself might also be a little crowded, depending on if you are taking the smaller 3-mile Sturtevant hike or the Santa Anita Loop trail.
The 9-mile trail will be substantially less populated than the 3-mile jaunt.
Getting an Adventure Pass
If you end up parking along the road and not in the designated lots, you are going to need to have an Adventure Pass. Without it, your car gets a ticket, which is a fair bit more expensive than the pass itself.
The pass can be bought at the Adam’s Pack Station store at Chantry Flats on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. It is 5 dollars for a day or 30 dollars for a year. You can also pick up this same Adventure pass at any Sports Chalet or Big 5 sporting goods store before you head out there.
You can park in the designated areas for a fee, but getting the pass allows you to park on the road without the worry of getting a ticket.
Where to Camp Overnight
If you are looking to camp overnight, there are a couple of options for you to consider. You can either go to Spruce Grove or Hoagees Camp.
Both locations are situated about 4 miles in and are on a first come first serve basis, so no calling in advance to reserve rooms. They are a little back from the falls and further in, so once you reach the falls you can double back and head up to the campgrounds to spend the night away from city life.
Some Interesting History Behind Sturtevant Falls
There is also a little bit of interesting history towards the beginning of this trail.
At the bottom of the paved trail, there is going to be a bridge. This bridge will eventually lead you to Roberts Camp. Before this first grouping of old, private residences, however, are other cabins and rooms for rent. These were the result of the Great Hiking Era.
During the 1890s and up to the 1920s, hiking was incredibly popular. Many individuals settling in Los Angeles at the time hiked this area quite frequently, and the Sierra Club built its first headquarters in southern California at this very location. You can still rent some of these cabins if you wish, but either way it is wonderful to see such old construction still standing after over one hundred years.
The additional, private cabins that are a part of Robert’s Camp and Sturtevant Camp were also built in the early 1900s.
For those still residing there seasonally, materials need to be brought in via mule pack to this day! Out of the hundreds that were built during the early 1900s, roughly 80 livable cabins remain. It is a rugged living experience in a unique little spot that is tucked away and protected from modernization.
Don’t Forget to Relax While You’re in Nature
So, if you are interested in getting away from one of the greatest cities in the west, a convenient option is the Sturtevant Fall hikes.
Keep in mind that going after the winter rainfalls will give you the best experience. Even though the trails can be crowded, you have the option of taking a more arduous route that will afford you a little more privacy.
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