This great hike, The Eaton Canyon Trail hike, is one of the most popular hikes in the Pasadena area, maybe in all of Southern California. If you were born and raised in the San Gabriel Valley, chances are, you hiked here as a teen. I know I diid! My friends and I came here after school, to hike and hang out, since we did live in the area. Okay, okay, we came here during lunch time, too!
Eaton Canyon is located at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains, in the Angeles National Forest. Located at the Eaton Saddle, near Mount Markham and the San Gabriel Peak. It’s 190 acres of botanical, zoological and recreational beauty.
This trail is a moderate 3.4 miles out and back hike, starting at The Eaton Canyon Nature area. There are offshoot trails, within Eaton Canyon, which are the Walnut Canyon, Coyote Canyon and Moist Canyon trails.
There’s lots of wildlife in Eaton Canyon, including deer, coyotes, many birds, even bears. Especially bears! The day we went, there happened to be a bear sighting. Police showed up with bean bag guns. Luckily, the bear scampered away, before the police could find it. No harm, no foul. This is their backyard, after all. They don’t want to deal with people. They want food and water only. Still beware.
A bike trail can be found on the Mount Wilson Toll Road, too. To access the Toll Road, you’ll have to access it at the Altadena Drive Gate. This entrance is by the well known bridge in Eaton Canyon. You’ll need to cross the bridge and that’s where the old Toll Road begins. Don’t worry, you don’t need to pay a toll!
If you go during a holiday weekend, you will find a big crowd. Even during a regular weekend, it can be very busy. During the week, Eaton Canyon is much quieter. I recommend a weekday, so you’ll really experience the beauty and tranquility. Though, it can be fun to see families hiking with their kids and dogs. If you’re social, hiking on the weekends might be enjoyable.
There’s a nice creek in the canyon and a pretty waterfall, just north of the bridge. Usually there’s plenty of water. With California’s historic drought going on, you won’t find much water. What you will find, is people enjoying whatever water there is, whether It’s at the creek or the waterfall. You can hike directly to both the creek and waterfall.
There are even more waterfalls beyond, but they’re more dangerous to get to. There was once access to these waterfalls, but no longer. You’ll have to climb to get to them. Best stay clear of these falls. Fatal accidents have occurred there. If you’re not a very experienced hiker, just don’t do it!
Overall, the Eaton Canyon Trail hike is a great year round hike. There’s free parking in a big lot, that’s right by The Nature Center. There’s also street parking a few miles further, at the Altadena gate, during the week. Always check street signs before parking there.
The Nature Center is open daily from 9am – 5pm and the park is open daily from sunrise to sunset, except Christmas Day and New Years Day. Located at 1750 N. Altadena Drive, Altadena CA 91001