Angeles National ForestLeave review
About Angeles National Forest
With the San Gabriel Mountains in LA’s backyard, getting away from the city for a weekend amidst the trees couldn’t get much easier. For those wary of traveling far, Los Angeles National Forest camping is a great option at just an hours drive away. Get lost in the wonder of Angeles National Forest, where you can hike to waterfalls through steep shady canyons, trek up huge peaks, stroll through old pine groves, explore colorful and vibrant plant life, and relax beneath clear blue skies. Recreation opportunities are endless—a few options include biking, hiking, horseback riding, swimming and wildlife viewing.
With more than 50 campgrounds in Angeles National Forest, the options go on and on. Campgrounds are separated into three ranger districts—Los Angeles River Ranger District, San Gabriel River Ranger District, and Santa Clara/Mojave Rivers Ranger District. Campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis, with a maximum stay of 14-days per site, and 30-days per year in the forest. Angeles National Forest also offers group campgrounds across all three ranger districts, some accommodating up to 300 people. You must make a reservation to use these group campgrounds.
Campgrounds in Angeles
Buckhorn Campground is one of those best kept secrets people normally only share about to close friends. This is one of those spots you’ll start...
Sure the hike is the best part, but getting to your camp after a long day of inclines is pretty damn sweet too. West Fork Trail Camp has got that...
Coldbrook Campground will set your mind to peace. It has all the makings of a happy place: babbling brookside sites, secluded forest, and your only...
Looking for a place to get away from it all? Camp without the crowds at Idlehour Trail Camp, a seriously prime spot in Angeles National Forest....
Over the mountains and through the woods to Cooper Canyon Trail Camp we go! Rolling away from the city, be sure to crack those windows and breath...
Get into LA’s high country at Horse Flats Campground. At 5,000 feet in the crisp sky, you can say bye-bye to the smog laced highway country of the...
See Mt. Baldy in your summit future? Come stay the night before at Manker Campground right outside the trails that lead up to it. At 6,000 feet...
Close enough to the city yet far enough away to escape the smog and traffic, Chilao Campground is a great destination for a weekend Los Angeles...
Summer fun starts here at Crystal Lake Rec Area Campground. Drive in for a night stay or a few, and join all the others lookin’ to start off their...
A favorite in the San Gabriel's is Gould Mesa Trail Camp. Weekend Warriors this one is for you: with a roundtrip 2-mile hike in, a swimming hole,...
Monte Cristo Campground is one of Angeles National Forests more popular spots to pitch a tent. With large, spacious and accessible sites, grab a...
Forage your way through the Valley Forge Trail, for an intimate night in the wilderness at one of its remote camps. For hikers, bikers, and...
As you plan your visit, please check out the official campground webpage on the Forest Service website to find information on seasonal closures,...
Wanna do some serious camping? Spruce Grove Trail Camp is hike-in and totally rustic, meaning it’ll be that much easier to kick back and relax....
For a party or big group gathering set against rockin’ mountain and forest scenery, reserve a site at Meadow Group Campground and prepare for the...
Just northwest of Los Angeles, the Angeles National Forest offers an ideal escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Take in some fresh air at...
Some say fire damaged, we say character. Tom Lucas Trail Camp is primitive as they come with only a couple hike-in sites and no restrooms. Stream...
37. Bear Campground
Thinking of doing some summertime camping? Go ahead, you totally deserve it! And Bear Campground is a great choice for a secluded campsite if...
Did someone say forest party? Bandido Campground in the Angeles National Forest can accommodate groups as large as 150! Wrassle up as many friends...
Love to hike and bike? Love to camp? Why not mix ‘em together at Glenn Camp Campground. This hike-in/bike-in campground is located 6 1/2 miles...
Drop some Angeles knowledge on us.
Camped 6/23/16. 36 miles in from base of highway (La Crescenta). Best spot that close. Lush green ferns, huge Ponderosa Pines. Plenty of empty sites. Cool gem. Please do not promote. I thought this was a well, thought out, cool website, so wanted to share. Bathrooms, fire-pits. Bear lockers at every site. The day use area gets crowded, but sites are abundant. Still $12/night. Some exploring is easy to do in area. It's 7k feet so bears are around. Please obey, and use lockers, and be responsible about left out food.
There is a cafe/biker bar about 10 miles down west. I checked out other camgrounds like Chilao flats and Manzanita loop. Manzanita is a cool summit top site. However, you are exposed to elements more.
I will be back.
Also, go past the 1st sign for Buckhorn, as that is the main day use area. You will see a sign on your right, a few 100 yds more and pull in to a small turnout on left that goes immediately downhill. Once you reach the sites, park and scope out a site and settle. (It's all one-way driving, so if you go past, you'll have to go back to hwy and re-enter).
Since we had an Adventure Pass, we parked in the trail parking lot in the back of Buckhorn campground. With this approach, the trail is mostly downhill for the first 1.5 miles, then you cross the creek and hike uphill for the remaining 1.5 miles, at which point you reach Cooper Canyon Trail Camp. The trail was mostly shaded, which was nice! The trail camp happened to be occupied by a boyscout troop, so we doubled back to a spot that's right on the trail near the creek crossing. It was absolutely beautiful. Definitely will be returning here!
On a Saturday in July the car camping area was packed with big groups (mostly mellow) but if you're willing to walk ~200 yards to a no parking site, it's peaceful and empty. Clean sites (iffy latrines) & well stocked camp store. Easy overnight 90 mins from LA.
Lots of bugs last time we went, probably because it's by a stream! They hadn't turned off the water at the pumps yet, so if you need extra water for putting out the fire, washing dishes, etc. you are in luck! a couple fun trails and swim holes nearby.
@Jason was right, really great place. After exploring the PNW recently as well as the Redwoods... we were so surprised by this place. My wife and I were actually just trying to find places west of Wrightwood that were interesting. We were tired but wanted to get outdoors today (from the high desert area) and drove past Inspiration Point hoping to find some cool places to explore at a later date.
pulling into this place seemed like we were up north. It was starting to get crowded by the time we got there, but it's a Friday as is expected. Restrooms in the LA part of these mountains are horrible... at all the sites
would recommend a weekday trip if possible
We camped in Manker so we could summit Mt. Baldy the next morning. Campground is easy to find and, at least during the week, quiet (thank god). We woke up at 4am to begin our summit bid and had a phenomenal day. Logged more than 14 miles and got back to camp almost crawling. Not a hike for the faint of heart but definitely worth it. The loop through Devils Backbone down through Ski Hut is, in my opinion, the way to go. Prepare for some amazing views. As other reviews here state, make sure you stop at Mt. Baldy Lodge for some well deserved food and drinks. It is amazing to think this place is so close to LA.
What a great place! Arrived right about 11am on a Saturday and it was a bit of a struggle to find a spot (obviously). However, we got lucky and found a nice tucked away spot. Only issue was a creamy amount of bugs. Bring a good spray because our cheap one didn't work. Nevertheless, it was all worth it.
This campground has easily worked its way up to #1 on my list of local campgrounds. Buckhorn is to say the least, AMAZING. To start off the road is paved which most of the time is a big concern for most people as not everyone has a 4x4 vehicle. The campsites are easily accessible and wide enough for 2 cars, possibly 3. The actual site we picked was perfect. Every site we passed way was amazing it felt as if you were away far up in northern California. So many trees and mountain tops as far as your eyes can see. Giant trees are surrounding your tent and camp setups. Perfect for hanging hammocks Bathrooms were clean and each site is equipped with a bear box and ours had a water spot as well. Overall it was a an amazing experience.
What an amazing campground that no one uses. Crystal Lake Cafe (and camp store) has just about anything you need, including some delicious chili cheese dogs. Crystal lake itself is not much to see these days with drought. Beautiful grounds and trails a plenty!
We parked at the trail parking lot at the Buckhorn campground (with Adventure Pass $5 for the day) and then hiked the Buckhart Trail. As Tabitha Farnsworth said it is downhill for the first 1.5 miles and a fairly shaded.The views are absolutely beautiful along the hike! We stopped just past the creek crossing on the trail at a single spot. It was a great weekend and I want to come back again.
Nice sites with a couple of vault toilets and bear proof trash cans. nice fire pits and lots of logs for sitting. Not much water in the creek in fall but it was moving pretty well. Fair number of hikers and bikers pass through.
Parked at the turnout off of Angeles Crest highway and walked down (about 1mi) with my dog for one night. My pup got a couple of goat-head stickers in his paw on the way back so that's one thing to watch out for. Good place for a one nighter to scratch the itch, especially if you're short on time.
Hi there, I just came back from camping at Tom Lucas Trail Camp. It was very difficult to find the camp site, the trail gets trickier as you get closer to it. Follow the stacked rocks(see photo). The whole camp site has been over grown by plants. I couldn't see the picnic tables from photos by previous campers and I only knew it was the campsite because I found two fire rings underneath some plants. I also found a stone/rock memorial for someone that dated back to 1967. It's sad that it's been overgrown by the wild, it really is a beautiful area to camp with a running creek close by. I would recommend this if you're looking for a challenging adventure and primitive camping in solitude. Also, be aware of the parking/gate situation there.
Camped here at the end of April 2016, starting from Red Box and hiking down Gabrielino trail. There was water in the stream, enough for drinking, but definitely not enough for other water activities. All resources online says this is a walk-in campground, but we were very surprised to see two cars there--not sure how they even drove in. There was a large group of Boy Scouts there, and several backpacking parties passed through, probably coming from Devore Campground. We expected it to be more secluded, but managed to grab a site right by the water and it turned out to be great. Overall, beautiful campground. It would probably be too warm in the summer, especially with even lower water levels then.
Want to escape the LA heat or just camp out an hour and half away from Los Angeles? Very clean place, the hosts are really nice and they sell $6 firewood onsite.
Alot of picnic area around this area for day use. Running water and flushed toilets around the campground. It's part reservation and part walk-ins available depending on the season.
Great location - especially for southern CA where so much of the camping/backpacking is scrubby and in the sun, etc. Most of this trail is under cover, beautiful and well maintained. The sites are right along the creek and very peaceful. You do have to hike out your own water or filter from the stream. Warning it's downhill almost exclusively on the way in and therefore... almost entirely uphill on the way out and the last bit is significant climb out. Even so, it's one of my favorites in the region.
We had a great time! It's barely an hour drive from LA, we drove up early Saturday morning, were able to grab a sight (if we had gotten there past 12 may not have happened), and headed home Sunday afternoon. Plenty of beautiful hikes around the area, many which lead to waterfalls. But we did meet a few rattlesnakes.
HEADS UP: The town close by is great for a Bloody Mary (have Missy at the Lodge make you her signature). BUT the town is without a gas station and general store. So, load up on firewood, food and gas before you head up the mountain. Also, if you're heading there to fish, it's basically a no go. We were told a combo of a flash flood then drought took out the fishing. The only option is a trout pond... but that's for the kids.
Meadow Group Campground is located off State Highway 2 between the Manzanita Loop of the Chilao Campground, 26 miles north of the 210 Freeway in La Canada. A 45-60min drive from Los Angeles. This is a nice getaway if you don't want to commit to a 2 night camping. We stayed at campground 1 which can handle about 20 - 25 tents. This site has 3 fire pits and 3 picnic tables. 7/30-7/31 2016 are the dates we stayed in. Day time was about 80-89degrees but it was breezy and the heat didn't really matter. Night time drops to 75-69.
Camped here on Saturday 08/24/2016. All but one spot was taken. Probably less busy during the week. Typically a creek that runs through but due to extreme drought, there was none. Hike to site had a lot of switchbacks, well shaded for most parts. I would recommend taking the trail and not the Red Box road to the site, not much shade on the road. Latrines also at site which is nice. If you do decide to camp at this primitive spot, please pack out your trash and not leave it in the bathroom.
3.3 MI HIKE TO CAMP FROM RED BOX STATION (closest place to park). You can take the fire road the whole way, or take the trail - about 1mi into the road on the right. Camped here 1 night on 11/12/16 on accident. We wanted to camp at West Fork but were too tired to make it the full 5.5 mi. Valley Forge is absolutely gorgeous in Fall - and given this was a holiday weekend we were excited to have the whole place to ourselves. Although 1 group did show up right before nightfall. We walked to West Fork (gorgeous walk) and were actually pleased that we stopped at Valley Forge because it was WAY prettier. PS: No water in the stream. No Fires allowed right now. Bathrooms were pretty good - they had toilet paper. 5 stars for my first time camping.
Update: In my last review I forgot to mention there is more than just the mountain around! In the summer take advantage of the Ski Lifts to get up to Baldy Notch for breakfast lunch or dinner. From the camp ground to you can hike to a near by waterfall. And all along the way keep an eye out for wild life! My all time favorite is seeing the big horn sheep on the Ski Hut Trail, but it's completely possible to see bear, raccoons, deer, mountain lion, snakes, and even eagle. So keep an eye out
I was out in the area for the super bloom in Lancaster. We really wanted to camp here and hike some of the PCT but (and maybe this was due to all of the rain this year), our 2WD car could not make it up to the site. Hope to come back sometime and check it out. But mainly, wanted to give everyone a heads up before they head out there, go in a 4WD or plan on camping elsewhere :)
Great camping spot with a very pretty hike up to Mount Hillyer adjacent, as well as a creek nearby that is nice. It is pretty secluded from the main road too, which is a plus . I'm definitely planning to go back.
MAKE SURE TO CALL AND GET THE GATE CODE from the office during business hours (M-F until 4:30 PM), as there is a combination lock to get in. They do not pick up the phone on the weekends, so if you get stuck try going to the Mount Chilao visitor center and asking them for the code.
Just got back from a 2-day/1-night backpack to Idlehour campground; a most gracious, wondrous and mystical location untouched (mostly) by man. With beautiful scenery, you're greeted by butterflies, touched by lingering branches, cooled by the creek's rushing water flow and enter the nearby campground (from Inspiration Pt). A most wondrous time; this place is definitely camera ready.
Around a 3.5 mile backpack from Switzer Picnic area. Great spot. Fire pits, picnic tables and although there is no potable water, there is a stream nearby to filter water from. About a mile upstream, there are a series of 10-foot waterfalls that you can slide down. Campsite is shaded under a canopy of trees. In my opinion, the ideal location.
If you’re sick of driving around LA, take a break by getting on the scenic Angeles Crest Highway, AKA the State Highway 2. There are excellent views and the drive will take you through the forest for a sweet little getaway. Make sure to stop at Devil’s Canyon Overlook!
If you’re sick of more than just traffic, get your heart racing with an epic hike to the Bridge to Nowhere, where you can bungee jump right off of the bridge, and cool off in swimming holes. However, make sure to come on a weekend if you’re planning on bungee jumping!
Hermit Falls has natural water slides and cliffs to jump from into sweet swimming holes!
Great campground, very clean restrooms, flush toilets and water.
Mostly family camping and RV's. Across the entrance ampground is Jackson Lake. Looks like a pond now with green/brown-ish water. Muddy and can still catch small fishes. Not far from small town.
Did my first backpacking trip into West Fork this weekend. Weather was perfect during the day and got down to about 40 at night, very chilly. We were able to get a little water from the stream, but had to go up a little to an area where it was flowing. Pit toilets, they weren't great, they weren't horrible. There were some deer hunters at one of the sites which was a little surprising. Just didn't know people hunted up there.
All in all, beautiful spot. Quiet and secluded. Next time we will get to Angeles before 7 on Saturday in hopes of getting a parking spot in the lot.
My family and I arrived around noon on Friday in early June, and there were quite a few spots open. We chose 18- on the back loop, close to the exit. The spot had a nice picnic table, fire pit, and a decent amount of shade. However, we could still hear the traffic on the Angeles Highway, and the camp sites were pretty close together. There were several outhouses- some were well kept, others not so much. The best part was a semi-hidden hiking trail (go through the white gate marked no parking). It was easy enough for kids (our ten year old loved it) and long enough that you can reach a point where you don't hear traffic anymore.
It's a good campground to quickly escape the city for a night, but we wouldn't recommend it for a long trip. -$12
Nice hike and campsite. We spent 1 night here and 1 night a little further at Devore in mid-July, 2016. There was enough water in the stream for filtering drinking water, even though the creek looked dry when we started up at Redbox. There were 3 other small groups at West Fork Trail Camp, but nobody at Devore.
Wildlife Spotted (Highlights)-
1 Water Snake (Water Moccasin?)
Stayed here the weekend of oct 8-9 2016. there is a creek nearby, its probably rushing and full of water in the spring. but in october, its mostly puddles of standing water and a tiny trickle in some areas. Other than lack of water, its a great campground. Some of the sites have a stoves and picnic tables.
Went here for Thanksgiving weekend 2016. Awesome site just 1 hour 15 minutes from Venice, CA. Ron, the host, is super nice and makes everyone feel welcome. Make sure to bring plenty of firewood (about a cord per hour) and check fire restrictions before you go because they change a lot. Also recommend avoiding holiday weekends. There were two very large multi-family groups on either side of us that were very loud and put a damper on the "outdoor" experience. But, on the bright side, all the activity helped my wife feel safer and she actually slept through the night—a rarity for her when camping! When we went, there was no water so glad we brought plenty for us and our dog. Site 6 and 7 are great if you can get them.
Perfect for summiting Mt Baldy in the open season.
It sits literally across the trail head and is perfect to relax in. All spots are first come first serve, and are fairly exposed and open the view by the neighboring campsites.
Be sure to bring pleanty of warm clothes, even in the summer temp can ready 30° at night. Have fun and enjoy this area for the nature that surrounds it!
Buckhorn is local to Los Angeles, CA. For being local, its amazing just how wild and secluded it feels to the city. Its a reminder of how beautiful our backyard can be. There are waterfalls, pools of water clean enough for swimming. There are some pretty crazy hiking trails. Campgrounds are nice. If staying local, Buckhorn is a great choice!
Great campsite not far from LA. Great views for sunset watching and friendly, helpful rangers. This is a well known campsite and can get pretty crowded and loud if you go during a busy weekend or during the summer months. So make sure to get there early. Well worth the view and nearby hiking trails in the area!
Hiked in mid-week May 4th and had the whole place to myself. Nice spot, with good tree cover. There were a lot of mosquitoes due to good rains this year, and I had forgotten to pack repellant and was feasted upon. Water is plentiful in the creek, and a tame deer came to say hello while I was cooking breakfast. Pit toilets, plus buckets and shovels.
Note that you need to hang a bear bag at this camp.
Just went for Mothers day Weekend! So Beautiful absolutely loved it... very cold at night right now. High elevation bring warm clothes for night at any time of the year it gets cold. The sites fill up so if you are planning come up on Thursday to get a spot. 7 & 8 would be great for large groups how they are set up. We got lucky because we had a handicap with us so we got to use site 3. Site 1 & 2 would be great for summer because they have the most shade. No matter what you will have a great time! Enjoy!
Awesome Campsite. Close to LA and has great views for the watching the sunset. was not very busy at the early end of the season. found a site, no reservation. Decent bathrooms, Not many trees, not big ones at least. Compared to Buckhorn campground which is just a bit further up the mountain. Overall had a very good experience here. was not very cold when i went. Made it with just a hoodie and waterproof jacket. Road was paved but not maintained. Beautiful views for stars as well as long exposure photography.
This is a cool little camp. That said, I think the walk in is the real selling point. It's a ~13 to 14 mile out-and-back along a (mostly) sleepy paved road with a gradual ~1,000 ft elevation gain. Actually, the road is closed to cars and can be pretty busy for the first ~1.5 mild (until the bridge / trail-head to Bear Valley) but then it's just you, the stream and some really beautiful scenery.
History of Angeles National Forest
On December 20, 1892, the San Gabriel Timberland Reserve was created by President Harrison. The creation of the Reserve, which was the forerunner of the Angeles, was in response to public concern about watershed values as early as 1883. Floods resulting from fire denuded slopes were causing problems with the lowland populations. In 1905, the Reserves were transferred from the Department of the Interior to the Department of Agriculture, and renamed National Forest in 1907. The San Gabriel National Forest consisted of the southern section of the present day Angeles and portions of the San Bernardino Forest. In 1908, the name was changed to Angeles National Forest. In 1926, the eastern area was divided and San Bernardino National Forest recreated. At this time, the Saugus (now part of the Santa Clara-Mojave Rivers Ranger District) was detached from the Santa Barbara Reserve and joined with the Angeles.