The Bridge to Nowhere hike is an all-day, beautiful experience that should be on every CA resident's bucket list. One of the last pieces of architecture standing from the old gold mining era, the historic Bridge to Nowhere is accessible for all level hikers and provides for a great adventure out in the wilderness of the San Gabriel mountains.
Length: 10 miles out and back | Level: Moderate - multiple river crossings, but nothing too extreme
Duration: 4-6 hours | Elevation: 900 Dogs: Yes on leash | Parking fee: $5 - you must have an Adventure Pass to park here.
The Bridge to Nowhere hike is best done with friends! Start early in the morning to avoid huge crowds. If you do get started later however, the hike is long enough where people go at their own pace and eventually crowded areas dissipate and you can enjoy some of them to yourself. I recommend packing a lunch, plenty of water, and plan to spend all day. To get to the Bridge to Nowhere trail-head from Azusa, head north on San Gabriel Canyon Road for about 11 miles, then turn right at East Fork Road. Take this about 6 miles to the parking lot at the end. If its packed up, just park alongside the road where allowed.
Quick Trail Tips:
Start as early as possible to avoid crowds. We left LA at 7am and arrived by 8am.
Bring hiking poles - they aren't necessary but are very helpful with the multiple river crossings
Pack a lunch and plenty of water- this hike can last up to 8 hours long
Bring sunblock and/or a hat and sunglasses. There aren't many shaded areas
Check the weather and trail status-- flash floods are rare, but have been known to happen in rainy season. Sometimes the trail is closed for other reasons as well
Wear shoes that you are fine walking through water in, or water/river rafting outdoor sandals. There is no way to avoid walking through water so embrace it, it's actually fun!
If water levels are high, bring a waterproof pouch or a drybag for cameras. I have this one for my iPhone.
Begin at the Bridge to Nowhere trail-head, which is to the right near a gate, off the parking lot. I was advised to fill out the Wilderness Permit card that you find in the parking lot, though no one during the hike stopped me for it. Restrooms are available at the trail-head and also .5 miles in when you hit Heaton Flats Trail Camp.
A mile in and you are already crossing your first river! Water levels vary, this was in January after a light rain so not too bad. The highest level crossing felt up to about 12 inches. Embrace the water crossings, don't waste time trying to jump over rocks. It will just frustrate you and slow you down. One of the best parts of this trail is being able to hike in water, especially in dry California so enjoy it!
Most of the hike up through the first 5 miles will be following along the flat riverbed, with little to no ascent as you can see below and crossing the water several times as you progress. Along the way you will see people panning for gold!
At a little after the halfway point, you come to an open area where the river is on your left, and the trail will continue to your right up a hill. Though the main trail does lead you right to the top of the bridge, some hikers choose to keep following the river and end up under the bridge. Either way you choose, both the bottom and top of the Bridge to Nowhere are accessible. We opted to continue on the trail going up to the top of the bridge. This part of the hike was the hardest (but easily manageable) mostly due to the open sun during the gradual climb as there is no shade.
Finally after the last couple of miles of the ascent, at the 5 mile mark you reach the Bridge to Nowhere! It's a lot more crowded at the top then I had anticipated as many people are hanging out, having lunch and for the daring types there is a full operation running for people to bungee jump off the bridge!
We skipped the bungee jump, and headed further down the trail to the bottom of the bridge. This is the perfect spot to take some really great shots and have lunch and rest a bit for your trek back. Sit back, relax and enjoy the view and the jumpers!
So how did this Bridge to Nowhere get there? We learned from some experts on the hike that this was an old gold mining area where the roads got washed away in the massive floods of 1938. As the last piece of road/architecture standing they kept a trail open for hikers and then later bungee jumpers to enjoy!
Trailhead address: Camp Bonita Road, San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, Azusa, CA 91702
Google Map Coordinates here. Note cell service doesn't exist once you progress up the mountain. Make sure to get them on your phone while in Azusa!
The San Gabriel mountains has many more hidden gems for hikes! My list is pretty long so far. What's your favorite?
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