Hiking distance: 1.5 miles round trip Hiking time: 45 minutes Configuration: out-and-back Elevation gain: 200 feet Exposure: exposed hilltop Difficulty: easy Dogs: allowed Maps: U.S.G.S. Pasadena.
The San Rafael Hills are a small mountain rise on the eastern flank of the Verdugo Mountains at the east end of Glendale. The hills are bordered by the Verdugo Canyon, the Arroyo Seco Drainage, and La Crescenta Valley. A network of fire road trails weave through the San Rafael Hills.
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This hike begins off Camino San Rafael and climbs through native chaparral habitat to an out-of-service fire lookout tower atop Cerro Negro. Cerro Negro, Spanish for black hills, is the second highest peak in the hills at 1,887 feet, two feet shorter than Flint Peak to its south. From the summit are sweeping 360-degree vistas of the San Gabriel Mountains, the Verdugo Mountains, La Crescenta Valley, and the Los Angeles Basin.
To the trailhead
From the Glendale Freeway (Highway 2) in Glendale, exit on Mountain Street. Drive east on Mountain Street, which becomes Camino San Rafael en route. At 1.9 miles, the road tops a ridge by two gated fire roads on the left. The northern (right) road is the trail. Park along the side of the road. An Adventure Pass is required for parking.
Walk past the vehicle gate, and head up the paved road 100 yards to the end of the pavement. Continue up the dirt road to westward views of Glendale, La Crescenta, Tujunga, the San Gabriel Mountains, and the east face of the Verdugo Mountains. Top the slope to a Y-fork. Stay left and gently descend to a view of the fire lookout tower. Drop down to the edge of the subdivision, passing another trail access at the north end of Camino San Rafael. Skirt the west flank of the homes along the back side of Flintridge Drive. Ascend the hill to a junction and veer right, staying on the Ridge Motorway. Pass the lookout tower above to an overlook and bench, with vistas east along the San Gabriel Range and across Pasadena. The road continues to the right up to the fenced lookout tower, with views of Hollywood and the Los Angeles Basin.
Hiking distance: 4 miles round trip Hiking time: 2 hours Configuration: out-and-back Elevation gain: 600 feet Exposure: mostly exposed Difficulty: easy to moderate Dogs: allowed
Maps: U.S.G.S. Condor Peak Harrison: Angeles Front Country Trail Map Harrison: Mt. Wilson Trail Map
Fall Creek Falls is a four-tiered waterfall that tumbles down the cliff walls for more than 250 feet. The waterfall is located on Fall Creek in Big Tujunga Canyon, just above its confluence with Big Tujunga Creek. All four drops have a pool at their base. The Fall Creek Trail descends on a dirt fire road into Big Tujunga Canyon, a mile upstream from Big Tujunga Reservoir. The road/trail drops 700 feet down the south canyon wall to the creek. En route is a spectacular view of Big Tujunga Canyon and an overlook of the waterfall, seen across the scenic canyon. To see Fall Creek Falls in its glory, it is best to go after a rain.
To the trailhead
From the Foothill Freeway (Interstate 210) in La Canada, exit on the Angeles Crest Highway (Highway 2). Drive 9.4 miles north to the signed Angeles Forest Highway. Turn left and continue 3.8 miles to Big Tujunga Canyon Road. Turn left and go 0.6 miles to a wide parking pullout on the right. An Adventure Pass is not required.