A moderate backpacking adventure in the Angeles National Forest - complete with streams, waterfalls, trees, and critters.

Parking: Parking is available at the Switzer Falls Picnic Area, or in the two overflow lots on the hill. You will need an Adventure Pass to leave your car parked here. Make sure to follow posted signs - there are some parking spots that do not allow overnight parking.

Amenities: Bear Canyon has a small campground (about 3 sites) at the end of the trail to hitch up your tent. There are picnic tables and small campfire circles. There are no bathrooms or running water. However, with flowing streams nearby, you can filter water easily to stay hydrated. Keep in mind water may not be plentiful depending on the season.

Trail: The trailhead starts at the Switzer Falls Picnic Area. Cross over the wooden bridge in the southern corner of the parking lot. The trail will be busy in the beginning, as many people are walking the 1.8 miles to Switzer Falls. At 1.1 miles, the trail splits. If you head left, you can explore the remains of Switzer-Land, a resort from the 1920s, where the ruins of the chapel still stand. Head right to cross the stream and continue following the trail. The trail starts to climb pretty rapidly out of the trees. You'll come across another trail junction at 1.3 miles - stay left. Once you reach the bottom of the switchbacks at 1.7 miles, you can either head left down the canyon about 1/10th of a mile to check out Switzer Falls, and/or you can make a right to continue on to Bear Canyon. After about .3 miles you'll start to come across some swimming holes. There are multiple pools as you continue down the trail. Another .3 miles later, you'll reach the junction where Bear Canyon meets the Arroyo Seco. The trail begins to hug closer to the canyon wall. Over the course of the next mile, you'll scramble through some fallen trees and strewn about boulders, sometimes crossing into the dry stream bed to get past certain sections. This area of the trail is technical, and took a bit of time to get through with our backpacks. Once you get to about 3.4 miles, you'll reach the Bear Canyon Campground. Enjoy the secluded campground - we only had one other group while we were there. Take the same route back to return to the parking lot.

Pack List

  • Backpacking gear
  • Tent
  • Water (plus water filter/Steripen)
  • Fire starter (at the time of year we went, we were allowed to have contained fires at our campsite)
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RT Distance 6.8 Miles
Elevation Gain 689 Feet
Activities Chillin, Camping, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Swimming Hole


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