When several existing trails were renamed to make a “new” 28.5 mile trail in 1970, in compliance with the National Trails System Act, the Forest Service’s self-congratulatory announcement read as follows: “This trail has been created for you – the city dweller – so that you might exchange, for a short time, the hectic scene of your urban life for the rugged beauty and freedom of adventure into the solitary wonderland of nature”.
The trail was the Gabrielino Trail. The eastern end of this trail is in Big Santa Anita Canyon and is the starting point for most trips in the canyon. The trailhead is at the white pipe gate just as you enter the Chantry Flat parking lot.
Follow the asphalt road 3/4 mile to the canyon bottom. Here, where Winter Creek meets Big Santa Anita Creek, is the site of historic Roberts’ Camp and still so called. Ford the creek or cross the green footbridge and continue on the broad center trail 1.25 miles to Fern Lodge Junction, where you are presented with the choice of choose either the Upper Falls Trail or the Stock Trail. Go left on the Stock Trail to continue on the Gabrielino Trail.
At about 3.5 miles from Chantry Flat you reach Spruce Grove Campground. Pass uphill through the campground and in another .5 miles you reach another trail junction. Left will take you to Sturtevant Camp 100 yards away, and right leads to Newcomb Pass and the rest of the Gabrielino Trail outside of Big Santa Anita Canyon.
Going the full distance of the Gabrielino Trail takes you down into the West Fork of the San Gabriel River, up to Red Box Saddle at Angeles Crest Highway, then down into the Arroyo Seco to JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) in Pasadena. The other end of the trail is at Windsor Ave. in Altadena.