Summary: This hike takes you through the lovely Arroy Seco to the Oakwilde camp. The trail is shaded by oaks, sycamores, maples, and countless white alders. A trail crosses a pretty little seasonal stream at least a dozen times, so bring some shoes you don't mind getting wet. This hike has scenery worthy of 5 stars, but I bumped it down a star due to the ever-present reminders of civilization (from the 1920s!) along the trail. Along the way you will pass a number of inviting picnic sites and several beautiful areas along the stream covered with ivy twining around the trees. The trail is very mellow for the first 3 miles to Paul Little Picnic Area, which you might consider as a turn around point if you are hiking with small children. Beyond the picnic area, the trail steepens, and a rather spectacular waterfall comes into view cascading over an erosion dam. I suppose you could follow the creek upstream from the Paul Little Picnic are to find the base of the falls, although I did not try this.
Trailhead: From the Foothill freeway (210) in Pasadena, take the Arroyo Blvd/Windsor Ave exit. Head north on Arroyo, which becomes Windsor. Park in a lot on the left about a mile up, just before the intersection with Ventura Street. Walk up Windsor a few hundred feet to a gated ,narrow, paved road on the right side of a Y. The road to the left drops down into the JPL parking lot. (Lat:34.19338 Lon:-118.16893)
Trail Guides for Lower Arroyo Seco:
Day Hikers Guide to Southern California
by John McKinney (Olympus Press)
101 Hikes in Southern California
by Jerry Schad (Wilderness Press)
Trails of the Angles - 100 Hikes in the San Gabriels
by John W. Robinson (Wilderness Press)
Best Seasons: Year-Round
User Groups: Hikers, Bikes, Dogs
Ranger Contact: Angeles National Forest - (818) 790-1151
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Jim Zuber, who has posted 104 other hikes on this site
Trail Reviews Page 1 of 4 Submit your own review
Reviewed by Debra on 7/9/2012
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Reviewed by Julia on 4/1/2012
My friend and I hiked this trail for about 3 hours at a moderate pace. We did not make it to the end as we were concerned about it getting dark. The trail is great. We had a nice time and the creek and scenery are nice, too. We enjoyed crossing the streams, and towards the end resorted to just walking through them as it we were bound to get wet no matter what. It was fun, though! A beginner hike all around. We will do it again.
Reviewed by David L. on 8/9/2011
I agree with JMW about the difficulty of the trail due to many stream crossings, fallen trees to climb over, etc. The trail is in fact closed after Paul Little as of 8/9/11, but hikers can continue through the picnic area, across the creek, to see the dam. Check out my trip report and photos here.
Reviewed by JMW on 6/5/2011
This has long been one of our favorite hikes. We hiked the trail again just after it reopened last week. If you have hiked this trail before, you will notice major damage from the Station Fire and subsequent flooding. Most of the trees along the stream are dead, but some of the oaks are recovering. The trail itself is passable to the Paul Little picnic area, but much of the trail is now very rocky. This used to be an easy hike, but I would now consider it moderate. Most of the bridges crossing the stream survived, but with the winter and spring rains, there are a number of stream crossings that never had bridges that either require crossing on a log or getting wet. We gave up and just waded through the water.
Reviewed by probyn on 3/22/2010
Officially this area is now closed to public access, so proceed at your own peril (I saw 2 others today), my ex said she was warned away by a ranger threatening $275 ticket, though the Angeles Nat Forest site states the fine is $5000 for an individual. About 1/2 mile above the JPL entrance to canyon, the former road and trail is GONE. Post rain, debris movement has caused waterways to run swift and straight My dog couldn't make it across, I had to carry him. there are now approx. half again as many stream crossings necessary than in the '00s. Gould Mesa looks OK despite tree debris, but Paul Little was devastated, only a few trees left standing. The Gabrielino trail coming off PLittle up the ridge is truly impassable, and I TRIED too.
Reviewed by Elizabeth Chou on 1/25/2010
I could be mistaken but don't think the hike reviewed above is the "Lower Arroyo Seco" which is mostly below the Rose Bowl and travels down through South Pasadena and Northeast Los Angeles (Highland Park, Eagle Rock areas). I usually take it down to the San Pascual stables. In any case, the LAS that I am familiar with is a great path for running, as well as walking your dog. For a hike, it probably doesn't have the immersion in nature, secludedness, nor does it have any of the challenges of what most hikers want. You can still see the bridges above and the storm drain, for example. Still, the wooded path that runs along the more straightforward path is rather pretty and makes for a quick getaway.
Reviewed by Dave on 11/14/2009
Started from Oak Grove Park, or whatever they call it now. The stream is a dark grey color because of the ashes from the runof from the last rain. Gould Mesa Campground is not burned at all except for the outer edges. Up from Gould Mesa most of the canyon trees are intact with some burning on the trunks and leaves. There are a lot of brown leaves from the heat of the fire. There are small to medium mudflows with ash mixed in them from the runoff making it difficult to stream cross unless your on a bkie. Some of the trail is now covered with mud and dirt slides. One of the bridgers burned but all and all it is not bad. I made it to Paul Little before I turned back. At Paul Little the outhouse burned but the tables and hitching posts are OK.
Reviewed by ASO on 5/11/2009
Hiked this on a Monday. Went down El Prieto/ Brown Mtn. trail. The water levels were extremely low, people said thats about how much there is apparently. Dont bring your dog because of the long black pavement and all the bikers,i saw about one every 45 min. I dont recommend this on a hot day. As for scenery its was nice but nothing exceptional considering it has a stream. I like water so i wont be going back here.
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