The San Gabriel Valley is a great place for outdoors summer fun. That’s because among its key attractions are the seemingly endless array of trails to be found in the mountains and canyons of the San Gabriel Mountains and the adjoining Angeles National Forest.  

Thankfully, there’s an ample array of websites ready to provide information on the best trails — and ones to avoid — for both experienced hikers and those who are so clueless they’re likely to get lost or hurt on their first try.

After all, you’ll want to make sure your time spent in the great outdoors is fun, not traumatic, so make sure you follow any rules posted, especially concerning trails that are closed for safety reasons. Bring plenty of sunscreen and water, comfortable shoes, and if at all possible at least one friend in case anything goes wrong.

For those who want to find the best that the San Gabriel Mountains have to offer, visit hikespeak.com/los-angeles/san-gabriel-mountains. Offering a mix of how to find waterfalls to the best mountain views and amazing vistas of the cities far below, the site is a great one-stop guide to a summer filled with discovery and healthy exercise.

Aside from the numerous 30- to 50-foot waterfalls in the area and plenty of lush greenery, the right trails will also enable you to find intriguing ruins. For instance, the Sam Merrill Trail runs nearly six miles near Altadena. Starting at the top of Lake Avenue, the walk features a river and ruins from an old hotel, as well as remnants of the Lowe Railroad, which ran through the mountains at around the turn of the last century. The Merrill Trail is also known for some of the most panoramic views of Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, modernhiker.com/area-maps/angeles-national-forest offers a thorough overview of the trails to be found in the Angeles National Forest, which was the first official national forest in California. Visitors can enjoy more than 655,000 acres of virtually pristine outdoor space there, just outside of the LA city limits, with roaring rivers, the remnants of resorts from more than a century ago, and pine-filled canyons stretching all the way to the top of Mount Baldy at more than 10,000 feet.  

The site offers color-coded pins to point out where the trails with different difficulty levels are, and also has a handy chart breaking down the distances of the different trails next to their difficulty ratings. In addition, there are hiking write-ups by people who have actually used the trails recently. And when you realize that the forest’s portion of Highway 2 goes all the way to Palmdale, you’ll be amazed by the wealth of available options for outdoor fun. Best of all, this site provides distance, elevation gain, and difficulty ratings. 

The site discoversgv.com/hiking-the-san-gabriel-mountains offers a wealth of quick and handy descriptions of what numerous trails have to offer. If you want to experience numerous local plants along with views of Placerita Canyon, then take Ecology Trail. Or if you want to see a double waterfall, you can take the Rubio Canyon Trail.

Meanwhile, if you are looking for a great place to camp out without taking a trip far out of town, Hoagees Camp is located along Lower Winter Creek Trail through a picturesque wooded canyon to a backcountry campground with 14 sites that are first come, first serve. Another option is hiking above Sturtevant Falls to a backcountry campground with seven sites that are also first come, first serve, at Spruce Grove Camp. 

It also turns out there’s more than one “Bridge to Nowhere” in America, as a hike named just that requires those who traverse it to cross several rivers in the San Gabriels to reach an out-of-place bridge with an intriguing history. 

Read carefully and choose wisely among your many hiking options and you’ll be making plenty of your own historic memories as well.