Chantry Flat Picnic Area

Chantry Flat was officially designated a picnic area in 1958. Prior to that, the area above the parking lots was a public campground built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Renovation and expansion of the picnic facilities started in late 2004. The project was delayed by road washouts following the 2005 rain storms. It was was finished at the end of August, 2006 and designated a Recreation Area. This means parked vehicles must  display an Adventure Pass (available at the pack station).

The new “Picnic Grove”, as it’s known to locals, has 35 sites – all handicap accessible. Each has a new concrete picnic table and spacious charcoal BBQ’s. Water spigots are installed throughout for cooking and clean-up. The concrete pads and walkways, poured with a tan coloring added, were cleverly stamped with wild animal footprints. Every effort was made to retain existing, historic rock walls. The flush toilet facilities were left intact and a double pit toilet was added at the Gabrielino Trail head.

The gate to Chantry Flat is open 6am to 10pm. Picnic sites are first come-first serve only. Water at Chantry Flat is treated and potable. A fire permit is not required for the BBQ’s. No camping is allowed in the picnic area.

Chantry Flat Photo Gallery

Map of the Chantry Flat Area

Hoegee’s Campground

Hoegee’s is 2.5 miles from Chantry Flat by way of the Lower Winter Creek Trail, 3 miles by the Upper Trail. The site is named for Hoegee’s resort which stood just upstream. The concrete foundation in the center of the campground was a private cabin which burned down decades ago. This facility has 15 campsites, each with table, fire ring and wood-burning stove. Please pack out your garbage. Site is shady year round with perennial water. The campground is very popular with Boy Scout troops. It is illegal to take wood and water from the nearby cabins. Please observe quiet time, 10 pm – 6 am, and don’t climb the check dams. There is an emergency call box on the other side of the creek, about 100 yards upstream.

For toilet facilities, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has closed the restrooms, as of 2017, due to a restriction on open-pit toilets.  The USFS apologizes for the inconvenience. To dispose of waste (doing your business), please choose a dispersed location outside of the campground, at least 100 feet from the stream, and NOT behind any cabins.  Dig a hole 6-8 inches deep and bury your waste and paper. Do NOT leave it exposed on the ground.

Campsites are first come-first serve only. Stream water must be boiled or filtered. You can get a free fire permit from the pack station Friday to Sunday, 7:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Spruce Grove Campground

Named for the old stands of Big-cone Spruce in the area, Spruce Grove is nearly 4 miles from Chantry. It has 7 sites w/ tables, fire rings and wood-burning stoves. 1 men’s toilets, 1 women’s, pack out your garbage. Shady year round with perennial water. It is illegal to take wood and water from the nearby cabins. Please observe quiet time, 10 pm – 6 am. Emergency call box is just upstream at Sturtevant’s Camp next to the Ranger Cabin.

Campsites are first come-first serve only. Stream water must be boiled or filtered. You can get a free fire permit from the pack station Saturday & Sunday, 8:00 am to 5:30 pm.

Cascade Picnic Area

This site is typically treated as a rest stop on on the way to Spruce Grove, Sturtevant Camp or points beyond, but it is officially listed as a picnic area on the Forest Service website. It has one toilet, no garbage service. If you can ignore the looming check dam this a beautiful location when the water is flowing well. The Cascades can be slippery and dangerous, so be careful.

Picnic sites are first come-first serve only. Stream water must be boiled or filtered.

Newcomb Pass Picnic Area

Newcomb Pass Picnic Area is not officially recognized by the Forest Service. This site is mostly used as a rest stop on the Gabrielino Trail, but the mysterious two tables make a nice destination spot. There is a short spur of the Rincon-Red Box Road that leads you to Newcomb Saddle with views of the High Country, including Mt. Waterman and Twin Peaks. Guests at Sturtevant’s Camp might want to consider a hike to the pass for lunch.

This is one end of the Rim Trail, a ridge route that leads to Mount Wilson.

Chantry Flat Fire Station

Former Home of Engine 17

You will notice at Chantry Flat several official-looking block buildings. These were built in 1958, the same year the picnic area was built and construction of the check dams began. For many years the complex operated as the station for Angeles National Forest fire engine crew 17, and briefly engine 22 was stationed there alongside 17. It was decommissioned in 2005 following the rainstorms that washed out the road and both engines 17 & 22 were moved down the hill to the Forest Supervisor’s office.

The largest building of the complex is a garage with maintenance yard for fire fighting equipment, and an outbuilding for combustible materials. The office at the front of the garage was nicely remodeled for use as a visitors center, but it has rarely seen use in that capacity. Adams’ Pack Station has stepped up in that role.

Across the driveway from the garage is the firefighters’ barracks. This building has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, and a common area. One of the bedroom sits apart from the other two and is adjacent the kitchen. The original arrangement was to have two bedrooms for the firefighters and for a full-time cook. In later years, as budgets didn’t allow for a cook, and as women were integrated into fire fighting positions, the cook’s room became that of female firefighters.

The two structures up behind the garage are 3-bedroom houses that were built as full-time residences for the captain and the battalion chief, and their families. They are currently rented to Forest Service employees. Please do not disturb the residents.

Another part of the defunct Chantry fire fighting infrastructure is the heliport. Here was stationed a helitack crew. On the hill behind the helitack garage is the original helipad, still surfaced with landing mat. The only use for the building now is to mouse the microwave telephone system that services Chantry Flat and the pack station.

To get to the heliport, views of the San Gabriel Valley, follow the San Olene fire road from the upper parking lot at Chantry Flat and it will bring you right to it. This makes for a nice, leisurely stroll after a big picnic.

Other Canyon Infrastructure

Santa Anita Dam

The Los Angeles County Public Works Department, Flood Control District, has made the largest impact on Big Santa Anita Canyon. On your way up the road to Chantry Flat you can’t help but notice Santa Anita Dam. It was completed in 1927 to store municipal water and to hold debris that might otherwise damage the downstream communities. In addition to the control room and other operations buildings the if full-time dam operators residence that is a two-bedroom home.

There is an associated gauging station for measuring the inflow, no longer used, just above Hermit Falls.

Check Dams

The DWP and a very different Forest Service decided to build the many “check dams” in the canyon, also to control debris. The first construction road was started in 1958 and by 1966, every section of the watershed contained check dams except the East Fork. All the clear-cutting, blasting, gunite-spraying, trout-blocking and general defacement was in vain. Three years later, as the waters of the 1969 flood receded, the check dams had been filled, causing the loss of nine cabins and forever changing the natural hydrology.

* NOTE: The above information was taken from the Glen Owens book The Heritage of the Big Santa Anita. We have since been informed that the check dams may have back filled as they were constructed – before the flood. Our informant has witnessed photographic proof of this.

Water System

The water system for Chantry Flat has been ever evolving. Currently the source is a vertical well (the lateral well has been abandoned) in Santa Oline Canyon, right next to the fire road. This is gravity fed to a pump house, also on the road, where the water is filtered and treated. From there it is sent to a 315,000 gallon storage tank just above the picnic area.

Volunteers’ Stable

Also at Chantry, behind the picnic area is a large wooden shed. This was built by a group of volunteers, known as The Big Santa Anita Gang, to house trail tools. A corral and shelter was added by volunteer horse patrolmen.