Backpack Bear Canyon

Rate this Adventure 6.8 miles 689 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Rachel Fidler

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.

Read More


Swimming Hole


Have you done this adventure? Be the first to leave a review!

Stay Nearby

Palmdale, California

Coulter Group Campground

Overview At Coulter Group Campground groups can relax and enjoy the experience of being outdoors without traveling far from the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area. The Angeles Crest Highway,...

Palmdale, California

Meadow Group Campground

Overview Meadow Group Campground is located off State Highway 2 between the Manzanita Loop of the Chilao Campground and the Chilao Ranger Station, 26 miles north of the 210 Freeway in La Canada, Ca...

Pearblossom, California

Bandido Group Campground

Overview Groups of all types will enjoy staying at the Bandido Group Campground, which boasts beautiful scenery in a relaxing, rustic atmosphere. The site accommodates groups of up to 150 campers, ...

Acton, California

Acton / Los Angeles North Koa

Nearby Adventures

  • Hike to Switzer Falls

    Just off the Angeles Crest highway, you’ll find one of LA’s best waterfalls. There is a parking lot just next to the trailhead. If you go on the weekend and run into a crowd, there’s parking near the highway, adding a little distance to your trek....

    5 miles

  • Hike to Mt. Disappointment

    From the 210 Freeway in La Cañada, take California Highway 2 north 14 miles up into the San Gabriel Mountains. Make sure you have your National Forest Pass (sold at REI or Ranger Station) or your Interagency Pass because they have started checking...

    3 miles 1200 ft gain

  • Hike to Millard Falls

    To get to the trail, park at the Millard Campground Trailhead parking lot, where you'll find plenty of parking. Follow the trail that leads away from the lot and past the Millard Campground. If necessary, you'll find bathrooms at the campground. F...

    1 miles 200 ft gain

  • Hiking San Gabriel Peak

    At 6,000 feet, San Gabriel Peak gives you one of the best views of the Los Angeles basin on the front range of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument.As you pass through Muller Tunnel, the trail will be littered with rocks and boulders. A lit...