Bridge to Nowhere Swimming Hole

Bridge to Nowhere Swimming Hole


From the issue Dippity-do!

Bridge the Gap

Abandoned in a remote and rugged section of the Sheep Mountain Wilderness, the fabled "Bridge to Nowhere” belies its name. It actually leads to a sublime swimming hole! But you’re gonna have to work—and get wet—to reach it! Hikers can access the bridge on a popular, 5-mile (one-way) trail following an old road that was washed out by the enormous 1938 flood. You’ll have to cross the East Fork of the San Gabriel River six times when taking the main trail, considered the path of least resistance; and the water can get higher than just your ankles (walking sticks are helpful for balancing in the flow). The single arch bridge has an elegant shape resembling the famed Gateway Arch in St. Louis, but this "Gateway to the Wets" leads to a swimming hole on the other side. It’s also conveniently located within a privately owned pocket that allows bungee jumping via Bungee America, so fear not if you spy people sling-shotting into the depths below. Once you cross the bridge, the road runs into the wall of the canyon and ends abruptly. Turn right on a dirt single track that travels along the side of the canyon (and offers a great perspective of the bridge) before a steep descent to a swimming hole haven made up of multiple pools—some offering calm waters, others rippling with rapids. Swim against the current, float along with it, or just dip your toes in from the banks, basking beneath the Bridge to Nowhere. Somewhere out there.

Take I-210 to Azusa and take the Route 39/San Gabriel Canyon Rd. exit. At the end of the ramp, turn north and drive 11.5 miles up Route 39 to East Fork Rd. Turn right, drive 5.2 miles to a T and turn left on Camp Bonita Rd. Drive .75 mile to the trailhead (map). Hike north up the canyon along East Fork Trail. After a mile, the trail crosses to the west bank. Continue up the canyon, crossing the river half a dozen times, largely sticking to the east side. At 3.75 miles, pick up the old road rising above the east bank of the river to reach the bridge. The swimming area is just past the bridge. A $5 Adventure Pass is required to park at the trailhead and a free wilderness permit for the Sheep Mountain Wilderness is required for the hike. Both can be obtained at the East Fork Ranger Station on Route 39 at the foot of the mountains. Note: be mindful of water levels before swimming, as they can change. The rugged trail is officially dog-friendly, but this can be a rough hike for canines.

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