- Total Miles: 2
- Time: 45 min
- Difficulty: Easy
- Best Season: All Year
- Elevation Gain: 286 ft
- Max Elevation: 1431 ft
- Type of Trail: Out & Back
- Parking Lot: Fits ≈ 20 cars
- Dogs: Allowed On A Leash
- Restrooms: Available On The Trail
- Trail Popularity: Moderate
- Pics Taken On: Sept 2, 2023
Big Dalton Canyon Wilderness Park is home to a gem of a trail which is easy enough for the entire family.
The Big Dalton Canyon Trail is located in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. The entirety of the trail follows the creek upstream through a campground, wooden bridges, amphitheaters, live oak groves, small waterfalls, and even a wooden swing. The lack of steep ridges makes it more than ideal for small children.
Looking for hikes in LA County? Check out the complete list by clicking the link below:
Big Dalton Canyon Trail Map
Click the link to be redirected to the Big Dalton Trailhead via Google Maps.
The parking lot is a large dirt turnout located across the street from the trailhead.
SoCal Adventure Pass (required to park in SoCal mountains)
Big Dalton Canyon Trail
The trailhead for Big Dalton Canyon is also shared by Mystic Canyon, a short trek up to a lookout that offers views of the valley below. Since both hikes are very short, I highly recommend combining them.
Although both hikes share the same trailhead, Big Dalton Canyon Trail splits off to the right almost immediately.
I have to be honest, I wasn’t expecting much out of this trail. I thought it was going to be rather bland.
However, after crossing the bridge and walking underneath the trees, I was proven completely wrong.
Sycamore trees adorned the creek, and the recent rainfall made the leaves and water glisten more than usual.
About 1/4 of the way into the hike I reached the Big Dalton Canyon Campground, and once again I was very shocked.
An amphitheater with a fire pit known as the Rowley Wilderness Amphitheater memorialized the contributions of Gordon Rowley and his wife Norma.
A beautiful wooden bridge arched over the creek to provide access from the dirt lot to the camp. I can definitely see why people choose to get married here.
A light drizzle began about halfway through my trek, but that only added to the scenery.
I spotted my first tiny waterfall when crossing this bridge.
After crossing the set of bridges, the trail led me through a stunning grove of California Coast Live Oak Trees. It reminded me of the haunted forests in movies. It was awesome.
Someone had gone through the trouble of hanging a wooden swing from one of the trees.
It was at this point that I realized the trail had no trash or graffiti.
After walking through the grove, I came to a fork and made a right to proceed onto my first creek crossing.
Although the hike had been full of positive surprises up to this point, all things, good or bad, must come to an end. The building in the image below was once a nature center, but unfortunately, it’s been permanently closed.
It seems like most people head back after reaching the nature center because from that point forward the trail was very overgrown.
For a brief section, the trail merged with the creek, but I was able to keep my feet dry by zigzagging.
The last creek crossing was the largest, but it was nevertheless very easy to cross.
I wasn’t expecting more pleasant surprises at this point, especially since I was near the end of the trail.
However, I heard the sweetest sound a hiker can hear coming from out of the blue. The creek was gushing over a roughly 5 foot ledge as a double cascade.
Want to explore a real waterfall? Check out Stoddard Canyon Falls, a less than 1 mile hike to a 40 ft waterfall with a rockslide and swimming hole which requires driving up GMR, the road that intersects with Big Dalton Canyon Rd.
The trail ended at a road bridge shortly after passing the waterfall. For the way back, you have the option of returning via the trail or hopping onto Big Dalton Canyon Rd, as both lead back to the dirt parking lot.