Altadena, California

Backpack Eaton Canyon to Idlehour

12 Miles Total - Out-and-Back Trail

Originally added by Alan Leung

Distance: 12 miles round trip. Secluded campground in the heart of Pasadena. Beautiful views of Downtown L. A. Fall asleep to the sounds of a babbling brook and hooting owls.

Idlehour is nestled deep in the Angeles National Forest, so it feels like you're in the heart of some untapped wilderness instead of six miles away from a bustling metropolis. The trail camp is accessible by foot through a variety of locations, but the most popular route is through Eaton Canyon, and the best times to attempt this trip are in the Spring and Fall when the California sun isn't so brutal.

The route from Eaton Canyon starts off rough, with little shade and intense climbs for the first 3 miles. Be sure to carry plenty of water and sunscreen. The best way to tackle this section is to pack light and carry trekking poles. The first two miles are crowded with weekend dayhikers, but taper off once you ascend past Henninger Flats. From there, you will encounter the occasional mountain biker, but that's about it.

After Henninger Flats, it is another 1.5 miles before you reach a small, barely noticeable sign that indicates the side trail that will take you to Idlehour. It veers sharply to the left, so keep your eyes peeled.

Here, the trail changes drastically. Instead of unshaded and dusty, the rest of the route is mercifully covered by coastal oak and manzanita bushes, pocked with brief breaks in the vegetation that allow you to see straight to Downtown LA and Catalina Island on clear days. You can hear the roar of the river long before you see it, and the last mile or so is a descent into a cool and damp valley.

By the time you reach Idlehour Trail Camp, you will have traveled six miles, most of which has been uphill. Reward yourself with a dip in the river and a good night's rest. There are three camping areas, each replete with their own wood-fired stove.

Please note, there is no overnight parking in the lot!

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Tags

Camping
Backpacking
Hiking
Dog Friendly
Forest
River
Scenic
Swimming Hole

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Not Bad For Suburban Backpacking

Make sure you start earlier with plenty of water. The fire road is steep at times and any less experienced backpackers may struggle through the ascent. Beautiful views of the skyline at night on the way up.

Bug Spray

Once you reach the camping grounds tiny little bugs won't let you see the beauty of the place. Bug Spray was the only thing I needed to make it a 5 star!!!

Another fun way to do this is to hike past Echo Mountain and over Inspiration Point. This way, you'll reach Idlehour midway thru a nearly 9 mile descent.

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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Nearby Adventures

Hiking to Eaton Canyon Falls

3.7 Miles Round Trip - 375 ft gain

Hike to and Rapel Thalehaha Falls in Rubio Canyon

3 Miles Round Trip - 710 ft gain

Hike Echo Mountain and Inspiration Point

10.4 Miles Round Trip - 2740 ft gain

Hike to Millard Falls

1 Miles Round Trip - 200 ft gain

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