A River Runs Through It

Hike a riverside trail at Azusa River Wilderness Park in Los Angeles

hiker overlooking the scenery at Azusa River Wilderness Park in the San Gabriels

Though a river does in fact run through it, Los Angeles isn’t exactly famous for its natural flowing water streams. Even the most avid hikers don’t realize, however, that a scenic riverside hike exists at the base of the beloved San Gabriels. Enter a 2.25-mile out-and-back trek in Azusa River Wilderness Park that parallels the San Gabriel River and offers great canyon views via a gentle ascent.

Hiker looking at the San Gabriel River in Azusa River Wilderness Park

Hiker walking on a trail at Azusa River Wilderness Park in the San Gabriels

Hiker taking a photo of the San Garbriels in Azusa River Wilderness Park in the San Gabriels

Park at the large lot at the entrance to the park, which is run by the Watershed Conservation Authority and marked by a giant sign reading “El Encanto.” This is often what the trail is referred to as, and it makes sense given the natural charms of the area. Start your journey at the Hilda L. Solis River Overlook, which has interpretive signs detailing the area in addition to your first glimpse of the San Gabriel River. This is actually part of the larger San Gabriel River Trail (as the signage displays), which runs 40 miles to the Pacific (at Seal Beach), throughout which the river will flow, trickle, pool, and even vanish. 

On this trip you’ll be heading into the mouth of the San Gabriel Canyon along Old San Gabriel Canyon Road. The wide dirt path hugs the canyon walls to the right and gives you constant viewing of the rushing river below. Pass under a few trees such as palms and sycamores, and wander beside native chaparral staples.

Sign for Azusa River Wilderness Park in the San Gabriel Mountains

When the trail starts to bend at a little past the half-mile mark, enjoy the sweeping canyon views before descending. After the mile mark and just past a pair of large oaks, you’ll reach the gauging station—the closest look at the river and your turnaround point. Enjoy a rest at the water’s edge before heading back. Azusawesome!

Two hikers taking a selfie photo in front of the San Gabriel River at

BONUS WATER: You can also check out Crystal Lake Recreation Area, which is further up Azusa’s CA-39 highway past two reservoirs and is another excellent water feature in the San Gabriels.

To get to the Azusa River Wilderness Park, take the I-210 to the CA-39 and head north. After 7.9 miles, turn right onto San Gabriel Canyon Rd. The lot and trailhead will be after 0.3 mile. Dog-friendly.

Trending Stories NorCal

View all Stories
  1. Hiker on the SCA trail in Marin Headlands with view of the Golden Gate Bridge

    Headlands Over Heels

    People come from all over the world to get a glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge. Get a dramatic and novel view of the bridge without all the people on this moderate 6-mile hike in the Marin Headlands.

    View
  2. Hiker at Healdsburg Ridge Open Space Preserve hiking amid lupine wildflowers

    Hidden Wilds of Healdsburg

    When you arrive at Healdsburg Ridge Open Space Preserve, you may wonder what could possibly be tucked behind a subdivision. But within minutes of hiking in this 155-acre preserve, the beauty reveals itself: majestic oak trees, wetland, spring wildflowers, and wowing views of the Mayacama Mountains and Russian River.

    View
  3. Hiker on a trail with beautiful green hills and wildflowers on the grasses at Carr Ranch in Contra Costa County

    Carr Ranch

    Can’t decide between an epic hike or a relaxing nature walk? The 8.3-mile Carr Ranch Trail loop in the East Bay’s Contra Costa County is the perfect hike for rugged adventurers with a soft side.

    View
  4. Two women at the entrance of the Lavender Labyrinth at Bees N Blooms in Santa Rosa

    Lavender Labyrinth

    Labyrinths are meditative meanders. Add fragrant organic lavender and you're at Bees N Blooms at the foot of Taylor Mountain near Santa Rosa, experiencing their “ancient pathway of peace” and more.

    View

Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. Urban Hike to the Shakespeare Bridge in LA

    Shakespeare Bridge + Secret Garden

    Romeo, Romeo, we all know how this goes, but do you know how to go to the Shakespeare Bridge and secret gardens? We’ve got the online do-it-yourself hiking route for you.

    View
  2. Hiker overlooking Bear Gulch Reservoir at Pinnacles National Park near Monterey

    Pinnacles of Spring

    Why hike at Pinnacles National Park? Spring's a beautiful time of year here. And you might spy the magnificent California condor soaring while you gain soaring views from the High Peaks Trail.

    View
  3. Hike Mount Tamalpais into Muir Woods

    Muir Woods Through the Backdoor

    A backdoor entrance into Muir Woods? Hike a tranquil trail that starts in Mount Tamalpais State Park and quietly leads into Muir Woods, letting you avoid the busyness of the main parking area.

    View
  4. Hikers by the reservoir at Triunfo Creek Park near Thousand Oaks

    Triumphant in Triunfo

    Go on a hike with a peaceful reservoir, charming meadows, and beautiful spring blooms at Triunfo Creek Park near Thousand Oaks.

    View