Angeles National Forest Travel Guide

Plan your perfect trip to Angeles National Forest with our guide. Discover the best places to visit, things to do, and where to stay in this Southern California gem. Read on for hiking/biking routes, food and drink, culture, safety tips, and more.

Introduction to Angeles National Forest

Angeles National Forest is a breathtaking wilderness area in the San Gabriel Valley of Southern California, just outside of Los Angeles. Covering over 700,000 acres, Angeles National Forest offers visitors a variety of outdoor activities, from hiking and camping to fishing and mountain biking. It’s an excellent destination for those looking to escape the city and immerse themselves in nature.

List of Places to Visit in Angeles National Forest

Here are some of the top places to visit in Angeles National Forest:

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

  • The San Gabriel Mission is a historic mission founded in 1771. Visitors can learn about the history of the mission and the indigenous people who lived in the area.
  • The Autry Museum of the American West showcases the history and culture of the American West, including Native American artifacts and Western art.
  • Mount Wilson Observatory is a historic observatory that has contributed to a number of important astronomical discoveries. It also offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains.

Natural Attractions of Angeles National Forest: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

  • Mount Baldy is the highest peak in the San Gabriel Mountains and offers some of the best hiking in Angeles National Forest. The hike to the summit is challenging but well worth it for the panoramic views.
  • Eaton Canyon Falls is a popular hiking trail that leads to a stunning waterfall. It’s a great destination year-round, and the trail is manageable for hikers of all skill levels.
  • Big Santa Anita Canyon is a picturesque canyon that’s perfect for hiking and picnicking. The canyon has several waterfalls and swimming holes, making it a great place to cool off in the summer months.

Hiking/Biking Routes of Angeles National Forest

With hundreds of miles of trails, Angeles National Forest is the perfect destination for hiking and mountain biking. Here are some of the most popular routes:

  • Bridge to Nowhere is a challenging 10-mile hike that leads to a historic bridge in the middle of the wilderness.
  • Mt. Lowe Railway Trail is an easy, scenic hike that follows the path of an old railway through the mountains.
  • Gabrielino Trail is a challenging but rewarding trail that offers stunning views of the surrounding canyons and mountains.

Best Things to Do in Angeles National Forest: Activities and Tours

There are plenty of ways to explore Angeles National Forest, whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll or a heart-pumping adventure. Here are some of the best things to do:

  • Go camping: There are several campgrounds in Angeles National Forest, ranging from well-equipped RV sites to primitive tent camping areas.
  • Go fishing: The San Gabriel River is home to several species of trout and makes for great fly fishing.
  • Take a scenic drive: The Angeles Crest Highway offers stunning views of the mountains and is a popular destination for car enthusiasts.

Week-Long Itinerary for Angeles National Forest

If you’re planning a week-long trip to Angeles National Forest, here’s a sample itinerary:

Day Activity
1 Explore the San Gabriel Mission and visit nearby museums
2 Hike the Mount Baldy trail
3 Go fishing on the San Gabriel River
4 Take a scenic drive along the Angeles Crest Highway
5 Go mountain biking on the Mt. Lowe Railway Trail
6 Visit the Big Santa Anita Canyon and cool off in the swimming holes
7 Relax at your campsite and take in the natural beauty of the forest

Food and Drink Scene of Angeles National Forest

Angeles National Forest doesn’t have a lot of dining options, but there are a few gems worth visiting:

Must-Try Dishes

  • The pie at the Rustic Canyon General Store and Cafe is legendary among locals. They serve up classic flavors like apple and cherry, as well as more creative options like earl grey and raspberry.
  • The burgers at The Wayfarer’s Chapel are a must-try. The cafe’s outdoor seating area offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.

Local Beverages

  • Mt. Baldy Brewery is a local favorite, serving up a variety of craft beers made with fresh mountain spring water.
  • Rosenthal Wine Bar & Patio is a great spot to unwind after a day of hiking. They offer a variety of wines produced at their vineyards in Malibu.

Where to Stay in Angeles National Forest: Hotels, Hostels, and Guesthouses

There are several options for overnight accommodations in Angeles National Forest:

What to Buy in Angeles National Forest: Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home

  • The Gibbon Conservation Center is a sanctuary for endangered gibbons and offers a gift shop with merchandise that supports their conservation efforts.
  • The Village Grind is a coffee shop that sources beans from local roasters and sells bags to take home.

Local Culture and Customs of Angeles National Forest

Angeles National Forest is home to several indigenous communities, including the Gabrielino-Tongva Tribe. Visitors should be respectful of the land and the people who have called it home for thousands of years.

Best Time to Visit Angeles National Forest

The best time to visit Angeles National Forest is in the spring and fall when temperatures are mild, and crowds are fewer.

Do’s and Don’ts of Angeles National Forest


  • Leave no trace: Pack out all your garbage and respect the natural environment.
  • Stay on designated trails to preserve the wilderness.
  • Bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and insect repellent for outdoor activities.


  • Feed the wildlife: This can disrupt their natural behavior and harm their health.
  • Bring pets on trails where they’re not allowed: This can damage the ecosystem and put wildlife in danger.
  • Start fires outside of designated fire rings: Wildfires are a significant threat to the forest and the surrounding communities.

Safety and Health

Safety in Angeles National Forest

  • Stay alert for wildlife, including rattlesnakes and mountain lions.
  • Be aware of weather conditions, especially in the winter when snow and ice can make roads and trails dangerous.
  • Always carry a first aid kit and know how to use it.

Health in Angeles National Forest

  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration, especially when hiking or engaging in other outdoor activities.
  • Wear sunscreen and a hat to protect against the sun’s harmful rays.
  • Be aware of altitude sickness, which can occur when ascending to higher elevations too quickly.

Getting to Angeles National Forest: Transportation Options and Logistics

Airports Near Angeles National Forest

  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is approximately 45 miles from Angeles National Forest.

Bus Stations Near Angeles National Forest

  • Greyhound Bus Lines operates a station in downtown Los Angeles, approximately 25 miles from Angeles National Forest.

Other Options

  • Renting a car is the most convenient way to get to Angeles National Forest and explore the area.

How to Get Around in Angeles National Forest

  • The best way to get around Angeles National Forest is by car.
  • Visitors can also bike or hike on designated trails.

Where to Go Next from Angeles National Forest: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

  • Los Angeles, with its world-renowned attractions and cultural experiences, is just a short drive away.
  • The beaches of Malibu are another popular destination for visitors to the area.


Angeles National Forest is a hidden gem in Southern California, offering visitors a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and immerse themselves in nature. With a wide range of outdoor activities, cultural attractions, and scenic views, there’s something for everyone in this wilderness oasis. Plan your trip using our comprehensive tour guide and get ready to experience the beauty of Angeles National Forest.