Backpacking in Idlehour

Los Angeles Eaton Canyon Trailhead

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!

Pack List

  • Backpack
  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag & pad
  • Food
  • Water
  • Sunscreen
  • First aid kit
  • Warm clothes
  • Trekking poles
  • Hiking boots
Read More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More



Backpacking, Camping, Hiking

Skill Level:



Year Round

Trail Type:



12 Miles



Dog Friendly
Swimming Hole

Are we missing something?

Suggest an edit

How to Get There

8 months ago

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.

8 months ago

9 months ago

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!!!

9 months ago

over 1 year ago

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.

over 1 year ago

Added by Alan Leung

More Adventures Nearby

Run the Old Youth Camp Loop

Los Angeles / Stough Canyon Nature Center

The Old Youth Camp Loop is a 2.6-mile loop with over 700 feet of elevation gain that can be ran, hiked, or even mountain biked if you prefer.

Hike the Towsley Canyon Loop

Los Angeles / Towsley Canyon Trailhead

The Towsley Canyon Loop can be done in either a clockwise or counter-clockwise loop.

Climb to the Top of Ladyface

Los Angeles / Ladyface Trail Head

Ladyface is a volcanic ridge that juts up over Agoura Hills. It is a short but steep hike up the ridgeline, and it offers amazing views to either side.

Henry Kittredge
17 Saves