Trail Canyon Hike – Condor Peak
Features: The proposed 17,084-acre Condor Peak Wilderness is located on the Angeles National Forest in the San Gabriel Mountains, just minutes away from the LosAngeles metropolitan area. The proposed Wilderness encompasses several canyons and creeks flowing into Big Tujunga Canyon from the north. Elevations range from 2,000 feet in Big Tujunga Canyon to about 6,000 feet along Mendenhall Ridge, which defines the northern boundary of the proposed Wilderness. A short drive from the San Fernando Valley, much of the area burned in the 2009 Station Fire and the native vegetation is slowly recovering.
Thick chaparral with some pockets of big cone Douglas fir and live oak cover canyon slopes and ridge tops, but lush riparian forests of alder and willow are found in the canyon bottoms. The entire area is an important contributor of fresh water to Big Tujunga Canyon, which supports several threatened and endangered species and was identified by the Forest Service as an Area of High Ecological Significance. The endangered California condor is occasionally sighted riding the thermals above Condor Peak and Mendenhall Ridge.
The area is probably best known for the rugged and perennially flowing Trail Canyon Creek. The definitive trail guide to the San Gabriel Mountains, Trails of the Angeles, describes the creek as a Dza lush and verdant oasis in the semi-arid front country of the San Gabriels.dz The trail crosses the alder and willow-lined stream several times as it proceeds up the live oak and chaparral-covered canyon. The 30 foot-high Trail Canyon Falls is about 2 miles from the trailhead. The trail crosses the creek just upstream of the falls, providing a good spot for picnic.
Those looking for a longer day hike or overnight backpack may want to continue beyond the falls along the increasingly overgrown and brushy trail to Lazy Lucas Camp (about 2.8 miles) or the larger Tom Lucas Camp (3.8 miles). The traileventually climbs up to Iron Mountain on the Mendenhall Ridge and then circles on an unmaintained track southeast to Condor Peak. East of Condor Peak, adventuresome cross-country hikers may explore the trail-less Fox Creek, which features a series of seven waterfalls, one of which is over 100 feet high.
Directions: The Trail Canyon Trail was closed for several years after the 2009 Station Fire. The Restoration Legacy Crew and other local volunteers have rebuilt much of the lower trail and it is now open to the public. From Interstate 210 in Sunland (San Fernando Valley), take the Sunland Boulevard exit and head north until it becomes Foothill Boulevard. After another mile, turn left on Mount Gleason Avenue. Drive 1.3 miles and turn right on Big Tujunga Canyon Road. After 3.4 miles, turn left up a hard-to-spot road (a sign for Trail Canyon Trail is visible from the opposite direction). There may be a locked gate at this point, which is opened on a daily basis by a local cabin owner. If the gate is locked, please park your car here without blocking the gate (this adds about .4 miles to your hike). Follow this road, veering right at a Y-intersection, for half a mile to a large parking lot and trailhead. There is a vault toilet but no water at the trailhead parking area.
For Your Safety: Hike with a friend or at least let someone know where you are going and when you will be back. Avoid hiking this trail during big rainstorms, as the creek crossings can be dangerous. Rattlesnakes and poison oak may be encountered along the trail. Bring plenty of water and food, as well as clothing for changing weather conditions. Common sense will help make for an enjoyable hike!
Caution: Weather and road conditions can change in an instant. Always check with the managing agency before embarking on a trip. Always hike with a friend and carry a cell phone for emergencies. Bring plenty of drinking water, food, and clothing for changing weather conditions. Let someone know where you are going and when you intend to be back. Remember, California’s wild places are beautiful but they can also be dangerous to the unprepared and unwary. The California Wilderness Coalition assumes no liability if you intend to visit any of the wild places featured in our materials.