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Switzer Falls - Bear Canyon

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Waterfalls, small cascades, lovely pools, wooded streamside trail, deep canyons
Near:Altadena, CA
Distance:4.5 miles round trip
Elevation Gain:600 ft
Hike Time:2.5 hours
Trail Condition:OK, but a few difficult spots
HikeType:Out and Back

Summary: This is a relatively easy hike into one of the loveliest sections of the San Gabriel mountains. The hike meanders back and across the stream running down the spectacular Arroyo Seco Canyon. The stream is lined with oaks and alder, with the water cascading over granite into mirror-like pools. The hike travels high above the 50 foot high Switzer falls, then drops back to the stream, where hikers can double back to stand at the base of the falls. After seeing the falls, travel down stream to the intersection with Bear Canyon, and travel up this spectacularly wild, steep walled canyon for another half mile or so to enjoy its wonders. More adventuresome hikes can continue up Bear Canyon for 2 miles to Bear Camp (not shown on my topo).
Trailhead: From Interstate 210 in La Canada, take Highway 2 north and drive 10 miles to Switzer picnic area on the right. Descend to the parking area outside the campground. You will see a footbridge over the stream leading to the trail head. (Lat:34.2663 Lon:-118.1436)
Trail Guides for Switzer Falls - Bear Canyon:
Trails of the Angles - 100 Hikes in the San Gabriels
by John W. Robinson  (Wilderness Press)

Day Hikers Guide to Southern California
by John McKinney  (Olympus Press)

California Hiking
by Tom Stienstra & Ann Marie Brown  (Foghorn Press)

Best Seasons: Year-Round
User Groups: Hikers, Dogs, Bikes, Horses
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 27   Submit your own review
Reviewed by JB on 1/10/2016
The basins for both the upper and lower falls are now filled with silt and mud, so swimming is no longer possible. The trail is also washed out in many places so be prepared for your shoes to get wet if you plan this trip after any decent rainfall. Still well worth a trip due to the relative ease of the hike and the proximity to the city.

Reviewed by Charlzdolf on 1/3/2013
Bear canyon and the Bear canyon trail area gained semi wilderness status in 2008. Fines are doubled, bicycles and pack animals weren't allowed then and they remain forbidden and fishing is barbless-catch and release. The Bear canyon trail was reopened before canyoncaretakers were allowed to finish the trail rehabilitation. For actual true information about Switzer canyon and opportunities to volunteer contact me at the aforementioned PEACE!

Reviewed by Charlzdolf on 1/3/2013
Error: Reserved Word Found: @

Reviewed by Viewer on 8/16/2012
To many hikers have been getting lost here. There have been many incidents in the local news. My fiance was lost also here due to the washed out trails due to past fires. When we realized he was lost, we notified search and rescue andhe had to be sir lifted out. This took quite a few hours.

Reviewed by KN on 6/28/2012
Great hike. I would say it's 60% shade & 40% sun. The hike itself was fun. There is a stream/creek majority of the way to the fall. Water looks very clean & clear. Be sure to wear waterproof shoes b/c there are times when you will need to hop on rocks to cross the stream. My friend slipped and her shoe (& sock) was soaked with water. Bathroom at the picnic area is EXTREMELY DIRTY (it doesn't look like it gets serviced very often). I opened the door and a swarm of flies flew out the restroom. I looked inside & saw brown everyone... Let's just say nature is a nice restroom as well.

Reviewed by arron on 5/20/2012
i recommend going to this trail if u want adventure and water. Be sure not to miss those small trails to the big water falls. Before going up the hill about a mile from the starting pt, there's a small trail at the left side of river to go to the big falls.

Reviewed by RMY on 4/16/2012
Awesome Hike. Went on 04.15.12. Hiked all the way to the falls, then doubled back and headed into bear canyon. The trails disappear from time to time and there are a lot of fallen trees, but keep an eye out for the pink ribbons wrapped around the trees and youll be fine. Bear canyon gets pretty strenuous at times. We eventually made it to the campground at the end. Very awesome. We plan on doing an overnighter there very soon. If i had to guess an all around distance, from the trailhead, to the falls then all the way back into bear say its about 10 miles round trip. The hike to the falls is very kid friendly, but i wouldnt recommend kids for the bear canyon hike.

Reviewed by BigBamboo on 4/11/2012
First thanks Jim for taking time to inform us about this great place. For those wondering about parking pass, well signs says you need it. They are $5.00 for a day pass or $30 for the year, you can find them at Big 5. I have personally never seen a ranger looking for parking passes but why go through the aggravation of finding a $25 + parking ticket. By the way this is a great hike and kid friendly. If you go I promise you will enjoy it!! Again thanks Jim for all your time and effort.

Notice: Traveling in the backcountry can be hazardous. You are responsible for informing yourself about these hazards and taking necessary precautions. Information on this web site comes from volunteer reporters and may contain errors or omissions. A current guidebook and proper equipment are essential for safe enjoyment of the hikes posted on this site.
Keys: California Hiking, California Trails, California Hikes, Los Angeles County Hiking, Los Angeles County Trails, Los Angeles County Hikes

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