Los Angeles, CA: East Fork to Bridge to Nowhere

This 10-mile trek down the East Fork of the San Gabriel River ends at the 120-foot-high Bridge to Nowhere, a popular bungee jumping destination.
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This 10-mile trek down the East Fork of the San Gabriel River ends at the 120-foot-high Bridge to Nowhere, a popular bungee jumping destination.

This 10-mile out-and-back zigzags along the East Fork of the San Gabriel River into a narrow canyon with steep walls. The trail fords the river several times, passes Gold Rush Era mines, and ends at the Bridge to Nowhere, where hikers see the leftovers of an abandoned 1930s road project. The 120-foot-high bridge is a popular launching platform for bungee jumpers.
Washouts are frequent on this trail, so pack water shoes and expect to get wet (and occasionally off course). In the first 2.2 miles, you'll cross the river a handful of times and see blast marks of the defunct Shoemaker Canyon Road to the west. From border of Sheep Mountain Wilderness, link sections of weathered road and rough trail to the famous bridge. Backtrack to trailhead when done.
-Mapped by Casey Schreiner

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 16.3

Waypoints

EFT001

Location: 34.2371788, -117.764801

Proceed north to a gate, and hike down the fire road marked NF 8W16.

EFT002

Location: 34.2418213, -117.7612534

Heaton Flat Picnic Area and Campground. At Y-junction, continue on the East Fork Trail as it follows the east bank of San Gabriel River.

EFT003

Location: 34.2448845, -117.7603989

Stay on the east side of the river, as the trail hits a solid rock wall. Boulder hop for about 30 feet and rejoin the trail.

EFT004

Location: 34.2479858, -117.7603226

Wade across the East Fork from east to west bank.

EFT005

Location: 34.2485275, -117.7603149

Cross the river again. Continue north on the trail as it rises above the river.

EFT006

Location: 34.2517853, -117.7596664

Cross river again.

EFT007

Location: 34.2522354, -117.7596664

The East Fork Trail splits into several trails; many are marked with cairns. Take whichever route looks the least overgrown and continue northeast.

EFT008

Location: 34.2534294, -117.7584839

The flood plain of the river becomes scattered with logs and other debris. Stay as close to the eastern canyon wall to avoid most of the obstacles. Keep the river to the left as the canyon makes a slight bend northwest.

EFT009

Location: 34.2546768, -117.7594376

Continue northeast on the East Fork Trail as the canyon makes a sharp turn. Look up at the western canyon wall to see evidence of the failed Shoemaker Canyon Road (a few tunnels blasted into the mountainside). Here, the East Fork Trail shows signs of its former status as a paved road. Asphalt and pavement dot the trail, which is overgrown and eroded by 50-plus years of California sun and wind.

EFT010

Location: 34.2560349, -117.7577286

Another river crossing.

EFT011

Location: 34.2567978, -117.7566376

Ford river again. For the next 0.6 mile, continue on the trail as it follows the river west through a narrow, more shaded section of canyon.

EFT012

Location: 34.2579193, -117.7511902

Ignore the thin use-trail worn into the rock wall (it doesn't go anywhere) and stay on the lower route, traveling east.

EFT013

Location: 34.2573738, -117.750618

Make a short scramble down some boulders (about 10 feet).

EFT014

Location: 34.2590561, -117.746727

Continue north in San Gabriel River Canyon on the East Fork Trail at the intersection with Laurel Gulch. This marks the boundary of the Sheep Mountain Wilderness Area.

EFT015

Location: 34.2601738, -117.7464371

Look at the western canyon wall. A prominent, twisted vein of quartz gives this formation its name--Swan Rock.

EFT016

Location: 34.2606735, -117.7472382

Ignore use-trails that ascend the ridge to the right; instead, stay along the river as the East Fork Trail curves northeast away from Swan Rock.

EFT017

Location: 34.2624016, -117.7466888

Cross the river as it bends north at Allison Gulch; the sandbar provides a shallow crossing.

EFT018

Location: 34.2630692, -117.7463989

Cross the river back to the east bank. Sidetrip: Veer right @ Y-junction with Allison Gulch for a 1.4-mile trip northeast to the ruins of Allison Mine.

EFT019

Location: 34.2689552, -117.7469711

At 3.5 miles, the river continues north around a small bend. Continue northwest for 0.1 mile along the edge of the river's eastern bank. Ignore the use-trail that leaves the riverbed to the north and climbs up onto this bend--this trail will leave you stranded above the actual route with no safe way down.

EFT020

Location: 34.2698479, -117.7479401

Cross the river twice. Continue in northeast direction for 0.1 mile. Note the old, severely eroded road grade on the southeast side of the canyon.

EFT021

Location: 34.2714958, -117.7468262

Cross the river yet again to the eastern bank. Scan this ridge for a prominent use-trail that leads to the old road grade.

EFT022

Location: 34.2791634, -117.7521667

Pass the sign marking 'Private Property.' Continue northeast on trail.

EFT023

Location: 34.283165, -117.7472458

Reach the Bridge to Nowhere. From here, the bridge doesn't look very impressive. Cross the span and look back to a lone concrete bridge without any roads nearby.

EFT024

Location: 34.2830925, -117.7460022

Turn right onto one of the handful of use-trails that scramble down to the river, approximately 200 feet. There are several excellent swimming holes, and many perches to watch bungee jumpers leap off the bridge. When done, ascend back to the main trail and retrace steps back to the parking lot. Option: Continue 360 feet farther along the trail to the ruins of a small tunnel that was supposed to lead to the bridge.

Gate

Location: 34.2366562, -117.7651978

The gate at the trailhead.

River View

Location: 34.2396202, -117.762619

A view of the East Fork of the San Gabriel River from the fire road.

Heaton Flats

Location: 34.2420349, -117.7612076

Trail sign at Heaton Flats Junction.

Trail to the ridge

Location: 34.2485275, -117.7605209

One of the use-trails to the actual trail on the ridge.

Old Pavement

Location: 34.2549477, -117.759491

Some sections of the old East Fork Road still have asphalt on the ground.

River View

Location: 34.2565422, -117.7569122

Wilderness Boundary

Location: 34.2591324, -117.7468338

Sheep Mountain Wilderness sign.

Trailside Views

Location: 34.2638855, -117.7468338

Another view of the river and mountains to the north.

Stone Arrow

Location: 34.2715797, -117.7463608

This arrow points to the trail.

More Pavement

Location: 34.2743111, -117.7483749

More visible pavement on the last stretch of trail before the bridge.

Bridge to Nowhere

Location: 34.2833595, -117.7464447

The Bridge to Nowhere from the east side.