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Big Santa Anita Canyon Loop with Upper Trail

A beautiful multi-landscape trail with many waterfalls and trees. Offers a challenging and well-maintained trail.
Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 10 miles
Duration: Half day
Family Friendly

Overview:  Big Santa Anita Canyon offers something for everybody. If you are traveling with young children, the short hike from Chantry Flat to... more »

Tips:  - Pack lots of water for this longer trail
- The trail is well-maintained and marked but its a good idea to have a map. You can pick... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Gabrielino Trailhead

The trailhead is located right near the parking lot by the pit toilets. It's a great view of the valley here before you descend into the canyon. The first portion of the trail is asphalt but eventually goes to dirt. If you plan on doing the full loop (and not just Sturtevant Falls, its a good idea to use the facilities at this time.

2. Bridge

A neat bridge to walk across.

3. Waterfall

Big Santa Anita Canyon is famous for all of the waterfalls it has along the first half of the trail. While manmade, they are pretty and relaxing to listen to as you walk by amongst the trees and river.

4. Junction for Upper and Lower Trail

At this point, you can choose to continue to follow the trail to go to the 55 foot high Sturtevant Falls or you can start the lower trail to go to the top of the falls which is where the loop starts. Many hikers go see the falls and rest for a bit then track back to this junction to continue the loop.

5. Water Crossing

There are a few water crossings along the Big Santa Anita Canyon loop. This is the first one. All have rocks that you can cross on. Be sure if you don't have waterproof hiking boots, to try your best not to step into the water and get the inside of your shoe wet.

The tree log on this crossing is a little wobbly so be sure to stick out your hands ... More

6. Sturtevant Falls

The beautiful, 55 foot tall Sturtevant falls is a wonderful place to mingle with other hikers and enjoy the flowing, rainbow-casting, misty falls.

Children especially love this part of the hike because it is a big reward for a little bit of work. Keep an eye on them, however, due to some steep parts of this area where the water flows.

You'll... More

7. Top of the Falls

About 15-20 minutes after leaving the falls and following the lower trail, you'll find yourself at the top of Sturtevant Falls. A lovely view of where you've been in the canyon. The next few miles are very pretty with lots of shade and the running river.

8. Poison Oak

Stay away from the plentiful poison oak along this trail. It's branches grow in leaves of three and the leaves look very much like oak leaves.

9. Spruce Grove Campground

Spruce Grove Campground is a great place to stop and have some trail mix, crackers, or whatever you brought! It's peaceful in this area especially in the morning. Picnic tables, firepits and pit toilets are available to use at this location.

Pack in what you pack out since there are no trashcans at this campground.

10. Sturtevant Camp

Less than a mile from Spruce Grove Campground is the historical Sturtevant Camp. This old yet still operational hikers camp is available for rent year round "to serve families, couples, clubs, churches and organizations ranging from 2 to 44".

11. Upper Zion Trail Junction

Follow the directions for the Mt. Zion Summit.

12. Mt. Zion Trailhead

From here you may choose to continue on up to the Mt. Zion summit or simply take this opportunity for a short rest.

From this point, for the next 1.5 miles or so, is downhill and also a large part in the sun.

13. Lower Zion Trail Junction

At this point in the trail, you are nearing the end of your trip and you can choose to take two main routes back to Chantry Flat. The lower winter creek trail is shorter but at the end, you walk up that steep asphalt hill to the parking lot. On warm day and after a long hike, it's not the best way to end your expedition.

Another option is to take... More

14. Resting Area

The previous 0.5 mile to get to this point can be a little tough especially if you've been hiking this whole loop. This is a nice spot to rest and catch your breath. The good news is that there is just a short little bit of uphill then next few hundred feet but then you are mostly downhill back to Chantry Flat. Additionally, you'll be in the shade... More

15. Chantry Flat

If you finished this whole trail, great job! That's a 9-mile hike! Reward yourself by visiting the Adam's Pack Station on the other side of Chantry Flat and get an ice cream.