Chilao Campground San Gabriel Mountains

Chilao Campground San Gabriel Mountains


From the issue Pitch Hits

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Mile-high camping is one of the ultimate fresh air experiences, and here’s the "pitch": You don’t have to venture far from Los Angeles to make it happen. Roughly an hour from the city, and set at 5,300 feet in the higher backcountry of the San Gabriel Mountains, Chilao Campground is so close, yet so far. Set up camp at one of its 83 sites spread around two loops, Pine and Manzanita. Jeffrey Pines, oaks, and red-trunked Manzanitas separate the sites, lending privacy. Of the two loops, Manzanita offers superior scenery, unfolding across a ridge that overlooks Big Tujunga Canyon. Low vegetation allows sweeping views to the west—a prime area to catch a banner sunset! Grab a site numbered in the teens or twenties for the best vantage and bask in the golden rays that blanket the campground. Daytime adventures come easily, too. The 53-mile-long Silver Moccasin Trail, which follows old Native American trails, passes right through the campground, so there’s plenty of nearby hiking—including a trail to Mount Waterman. On clear nights the Milky Way puts on a show. Chill out at Chilao!

BONUS: Forgot the burgers and beers? Roughing it doesn’t have to be rough! You may be in the middle of the mountains, but Chilao sits a mere mile from Newcomb's Ranch. Grab a pint of Fat Tire and devour some homemade beef chili. Ahhhh, nature...

From I-210 in La Canada, exit on CA 2, Angeles Crest Highway, and drive northeast 26 miles into the mountains (map). At the sign for Chilao Campground, turn and continue to either loop. Newcomb Ranch is another mile up the road. Call (818) 899-1900 for current campground conditions. Sites are first-come, first-serve at $12 per night. Each site comes with a picnic table and a fire ring with a grill. Vault toilets and potable water provided. Campfires permitted. An adventure pass is required to park on national forest land outside the campground and may be purchased at Newcomb Ranch for $5 per day. Dog-friendly!

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