The Bridge to Nowhere hike was one of those mysterious, must-do hikes that I seemed to hear about as soon as I moved to Los Angeles. I tried to stay off the beaten path and avoid the trail crowds in the mountains but finally, I couldn't resist anymore; I had to see what all the hiking hype was about! And man, was I glad I did. This hike is epic for a reason! It's beautiful, rugged, filled with river crossings, bungee jumpers, a beautiful bridge and even some waterfalls and swimming holes! I never thought I could find this type of terrain so close to LA!
The trailhead is just north of Azusa in the San Gabriel mountains, about an hour and a half drive from Los Angeles. It's a 10-mile out and back hike and the earlier you go the less crowded the trail is. We went in April and for being a state that's been drought-stricken for years, I was surprised at the amount of water we trekked through. The trail follows the East Fork river and has a minimum of six river crossings (I'm pretty sure we did close to 20). Depending on the time of year, the water level can vary but I recommend a walking stick and shoes with strong traction to help with balance. On a side note, this river is known for flash flooding so beware if there are clouds in the area and never try to hike this trail when it's raining.
Once you start out on the trail you'll cross through gorgeous meadows with mountains in every direction The river crossings start almost immediately and continue throughout the trail. At 2.5 miles, there is a short wooden bridge that marks the beginning of the Sheep Mountain Wilderness. From here the trail becomes less lush and green and more rocky and steep. There are small spots where the trail splits and people have veered to the right but stick to following the river or you may find yourself on the top of a mountain with a very steep descent
Five miles in, the bridge pops into view; that is if you don't hear the party first! Bungee America is a private company that provides thrill seekers with a chance to bungee jump from the bridge. It's a party here with music and people cheering each other on. You would think the liveliness would take away from the natural beauty but surprisingly it only added to the fun and adventure of this hike for me. And for $99 you too can take the plunge!
The bridge itself is a beauty to behold. The bridge was built in 1936 with the intention of connecting San Gabriel to Wrightwood but a flash flood in 1938 washed out construction and it never resumed. It's become a Southern California staple for hikers and adrenaline seekers alike.
Since I was not quite up for plunging headfirst off a bridge toward the rocks below, I decided to continue on a small trail to the bottom of the bridge. This trail was surprisingly the most difficult hiking for me as it was very narrow, steep, and slippery. But it's well worth the trek to the bottom, not only for the lower view of the bridge and bungee jumpers but also for the small waterfalls and swimming holes. There were very few people here even though the rest of the trail was crowded. You can even cool off by jumping from the nearby boulders into the crisp mountain water. It's an awesome place to picnic and rest before heading back on the trail.
Watch the whole episode here! [embed]https://youtu.be/Ii4bEDTUQ2U[/embed]
WHAT TO KNOW:
- Location: San Gabriel Mountains north of Azuza. 43 miles from Los Angeles
- Trailhead: 0.5 miles from parking lot down a dirt road to Heaton Flats Trail Camp
- Entrance Fee: Wilderness Permit Required. $5 Adventure Pass
- Distance: 10 mile loop
- Time: Plan on at least 6 hours. Longer if you plan to bungee jump or swim.
- Elevation: 900'
- Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous
- Best Time to Hike: Early in the morning. This trail gets very crowded
- What to Bring: Walking stick, Waterproof/good traction shoes, sunscreen (very little shade on this hike), money if you plan to bungee jump, plenty of water and snacks for a long hike.
- NEED TO KNOW: This area is known for flash flooding. NEVER hike if it's raining and beware if there are clouds in the area.