Sturtevant Falls, exploring it's wonders.
Chantry Flats, first stop before the trails that lead to the main attraction, Sturtevant Falls
Located in the San Gabriel mountains, hidden in a remote part of the mountain is a place called Chantry Flats. Here you'll find many hikers from the young, to the old, to our four legged friends. Yes that's right, this spot is also a popular destination to bring your furry little friends to come and enjoy the hike. The thing to consider is parking, during the early morning and especially weekends the parking area gets really full and might be hard to find a spot if you are not lucky. Some may find it easier to find parking further down the mountain where there is a spot available. If this is your plan of action and you have taking this alternative you must consider that the rangers are very strict on how you park your car if you are to park it further down hill. You must park your cars within the white lines.
There is a $5 fee for parking or you can purchase the year pass for $30. Parking passes can be purchase at participating locations such as big 5 sport goods, convenient stores, but if you have made it up the mountain and have forgotten to purchase a pass, it's ok not to worry. There is a small shop on Chantry Flats right by where a small section has been converted into a rest stop of sort slash small farm. Here you'll see goats, and other animals, it's also a spot where you can buy maps, refreshments and other goodies. Sometimes people will find that the shop is closed, but not to panic. They allow you to purchase a pass by dropping your $5 payment in an envelope with your license plate number written on the envelope. This way you are saved from getting a ticket even with the store closed.
Chantry Flats is just the start of the adventure, besides the store and the small farm you will find picnic tables which are scattered throughout the area under shaded trees to keep you cool from the sun. That's one thing I like about this hike is that you are covered by the trees and protected from the sun most of the time, but it's not too dark to the point where things are not visible. Somehow the sun's rays manages to breakthrough the forest canopy and lights up the hiking trail with enough light so that everything Is visible. Of course the whole trail isn't entirely covered but a lot of the areas are. Aside from the picnic tables, you will also find restrooms there. Each picnic area, 35 to be exact is accompanied by a BBQ and most are wheelchair accessible.
Chantry Flats is the starting point that leads to the trails to Sturtevant Falls, Mt.Wilson, Spruce Grove campgrounds, Hoegees Campground and a few other trail heads as well. The most notable of course would be Sturtevant Falls a 60 foot waterfall located a few miles from Chantry Flats. Another pleasant surprise hidden in this picturesque location is a place called Hermit Falls which is located down the same trail path if you were to go to Sturtevant Falls.
Getting to Sturtevant Falls
Ok here we go on our adventure to Sturtevant Falls ! There are two ways that I have personally tried and have gone on to get to Sturtevant Falls, one is a loop which takes you around the campsites and canyon onto a mountain path. This in my opinion is my favorite simply because of the following reasons 1) it's a longer path to take to the waterfall 2) it's more of a work out 3) it offers the more scenic route between the two paths ranging from mountain views to views of running streams and campgrounds which the other one also has except for mountain views. Please keep in mind that this route is also the more dangerous of the two because you will be basically walking by the Cliffside the whole way and the path is very narrow. There are many stones and slippery spots along the way so you have to be awfully careful along the way. This loop is a lot of fun to do encountering hikers along the way and also spotting a lot of the wild life in the area including snakes so be careful.
Mountain biking is also a popular event here which my friends and I have tried. We opted to do the loop, but I am warning you now unless you're an experience rider I advise you not to try this the first time if you aren't an experience and avid rider. One failed mistake can be fatal or can lead to serious injuries. Nonetheless, biking on the trail is an awesome experience and is a lot of fun. A good idea would have a camera mount on your bike so you can shoot video of your experience while you ride.
The loop passes through several trail heads that lead to other trails such is Mt.Wilson and a popular campground by the name of Hoegees campground. Here you will find small cabins nestled in the forest and often you can see smoke coming out of the cabin's chimneys from their occupants. It's a neat thing to see and experience. Along the way you'll see streams and little pools, my friends and I would often take advantage and take a little breather to jump right in. When the streams are fast flowing with water with the sound of gushing water surround you, the area becomes more magical, every sense in your body is heightened it seems and then you become aware that you're in the presence of mother natures greatest work.
During the summer it can get pretty hot out here but the water from upstream remains really cool, cool enough in fact that my friends and I would often get cans of beer or soda or whatever beverage in hand and we would just set it to cool in the water for a bit while we relax to enjoy the scenery and take in all the sounds from the surrounding wild life and flowing water.
As you start descending you end up at the bottom of the canyon where the path ascends again, the path continues on, with views of more small and some bigger cabins along the way. The path continues on accompanied by streams and tiny waterfalls. A few miles later big boulders, with shrubbery start to appear and you're suddenly left to wonder, where am I ? But as you come out of the bush and shrubbery there you see it in the distance, Sturtevant Falls !
Arriving at the falls is one I remember of excitement, a feeling of accomplishment, peacefulness, refreshing and in awe to be in the presence of this great creation. There are many large rocks with places to sit around the body of water that is surrounded by the falls itself, it's where many people conjugate to enjoy the experience, bringing with them family and friends in addition as I mentioned earlier their four legged friends as well. The dogs love the water and I have seen many jump and swim to cool off during the summer heat.
The other route to get to Sturtevant falls is a paved road located by the main restroom and parking area on Chantry Flats. There you can start walking down towards the path which leads down to the same area that you were brought to when taking the loop route. The paved road is pretty steep so those with bad knees might have a hard time walking down without experiencing some type of pain. The paved road continues on for a bit and then transitions into dirty and rubble, during summer the path can get pretty dusty as well. At the end of the paved road you will be greeted by a small stream running down the mountain and to the right is a small green bridge which has the same stream running through it.
So if you're thinking of going on a hike that you and your family will enjoy, I highly recommend Sturtevant Falls. It's a place to relax, unwind and enjoy the scenery. The sounds and sights are therapeutic to your mind and soul and it's a place that I definitely will continue going to for many years to come.