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#195246 - 05/05/16 05:01 PM Trail help
Brandy1789 Offline

Registered: 05/05/16
Posts: 2
Loc: Southern California

My boyfriend and I are trying to plan our very first backpacking trip in June. I'm very excited but I'm having a hard time picking a trail. I would like it to be 2-3 days and somewhere in Southern California but not in the desert. I'm not sure if I'm just over thinking things? But I can't seem to find enough info. has a lot but they seem more like day hikes. I have found Devils canyon and bear creek trail (upper I think) both located in Angeles national forest but I don't see where to get permits and find out if I need a bear canister? Devils canyon also says it's only 3 miles one way. That seemed a little short. I have tried looking on a bunch of websites but can't seem to find what I need. Thanks for reading and looking forward to some direction haha.

#195248 - 05/05/16 05:59 PM Re: Trail help [Re: Brandy1789]
OregonMouse Offline

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6760
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
For the first trip, I'd suggest an overnighter not too far from the trailhead, so you can easily bail out if things go awry. Hopefully some of our California folks will give you some ideas.
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

#195253 - 05/05/16 06:53 PM Re: Trail help [Re: Brandy1789]
BZH Offline

Registered: 01/26/11
Posts: 1103
Loc: Madison, AL
You do not need a permit to backpack in Angeles National Forest, nor do you need a bear canister. Their are bears there but they tend not to be problematic. You shouldn't leave food unattended, but beyond that it is up to you to decide what level of food protection is needed.

You need an Adventure Pass to park in parking lots within the forest (like at trailheads). They cost $30 annually and can be purchased at Ranger Stations (check hours before you go.. they are not open very often anymore) or most any outdoor gear shop. You need a California Campfire Permit to have a fire. They are free and easy to get online:

You can call the Ranger Station for lots of questions. As I recall most of the fire levels within the forest limit campfires to campgrounds. If you want a campfire there are actually quite a few campgrounds in the forest that you hike to. They may also have an outhouse. All of the campgrounds on on this list that are called a "trail camp" are not accessible by car:

An "out and back" type trip is usually good for a first backpacking trip, because it gives you better bailing out opportunities. Finding a trail camp the distance you are looking for from the road would be one good suggestion. You can of course day hike from there. This map: is good for getting an overview of where these trails and camps are and how much hiking you can do on them.

Water is usually the biggest issue with backpacking around Los Angeles. Many of the trail camps have some form of water (near a stream) but often only seasonally. Outside of ANF; Padres National Forest and Cleveland National Forest are also nearby and offer backpacking opportunities. Catalina Island is also another great backpacking opportunity.

Mt. San Jacinto State Park is another good area to think about backpacking. They require a wilderness permit. The best part is you can take the Palm Springs Tram to the top of the mountain and backpack around in the forest.

#195256 - 05/05/16 07:00 PM Re: Trail help [Re: BZH]
Brandy1789 Offline

Registered: 05/05/16
Posts: 2
Loc: Southern California
Thank you so much! This was really helpful! I have heard of those areas and I have thought about San Gorgonio but some people said they didn't recommend it for beginners.

But I take it once I pick a location the next thing I have to do is go to the ranger station? Can that be in the same day we start the trip or a separate visit?

#195267 - 05/06/16 01:27 PM Re: Trail help [Re: Brandy1789]
BZH Offline

Registered: 01/26/11
Posts: 1103
Loc: Madison, AL
You don't need to go to the ranger station at all. I don't recommend it. In the current budget environment rangers are overworked and understaffed. I rarely find the stations even open. If you have questions its best to just look up the number and give them a call during the week in advance of your trip. They are less busy during the week and you have more opportunity to get hold of someone.

The only permits you need are the adventure pass which you can buy lots of places and the wilderness fire permit which you can get online... if you want a fire (you might need one to use a stove too). You can also get both those things at a ranger station and talk to a ranger... if they are open.

#195269 - 05/06/16 01:55 PM Re: Trail help [Re: Brandy1789]
wandering_daisy Offline

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2865
Loc: California
I usually do not recommend one's first backpack to be in late June through mid-July in mountains because of mosquitoes. Not that you could not deal with it, but it does tend to dampen future enthusiasm for backpacking! San Jacinto may still have snow up top. Call and check first if that is your plan. The tram ride is really fun!


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