Big Dalton Canyon Trail: Gem Of The Glendora Mts

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  • 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.

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Big Dalton Canyon Trail Map

Big Dalton Canyon Elevation Profile

Download Printable PDF 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.

Helpful Links

Weather Forecast

SoCal Adventure Pass (required to park in SoCal mountains)

Big Dalton Cn Wilderness Park Website

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.

Click here to check out Mystic Canyon Trail.

Big Dalton Canyon Trailhead

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.

Big Dalton Canyon Campground

An amphitheater with a fire pit known as the Rowley Wilderness Amphitheater memorialized the contributions of Gordon Rowley and his wife Norma.

Big Dalton Canyon Amphitheater

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.

California Coast Live Oak Grove On Big Dalton Canyon Trail

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.

Swing At Big Dalton Canyon Trail

After walking through the grove, I came to a fork and made a right to proceed onto my first creek crossing.

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.

Big Dalton Canyon Nature Center

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.

Big Dalton Canyon Trail

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.

More to Explore!

Stonewall Mine: San Diego’s Forgotten Relic

Stonewall Mine: San Diego’s Forgotten Relic

Miles: 0.7 Time: 20 min Difficulty: Easy Best Season: All Year Elevation Gain: 75 ft Max Elevation: 4640 ft Type of Trail: Loop Parking Lot: Fits ≈ 20 cars Dogs: Not Allowed Restrooms: Available At The Trailhead Trail Popularity: Moderate  Pics Taken On: Jul 25, 2023...

Mystic Canyon Trail: Stunning Views In The Glendora Mts

Mystic Canyon Trail: Stunning Views In The Glendora Mts

Miles: 1.92 Time: 45 min Difficulty: Moderate Best Season: All Year Elevation Gain: 707 ft Max Elevation: 1907 ft Type of Trail: Out & Back Parking Lot: Turnout, Fits ≈ 20 cars Dogs: Allowed on a leash Restrooms: Not Available Trail Popularity: Low - Moderate Pics...

Ortega Falls: 2 Cascades Off Of Hwy 74

Ortega Falls: 2 Cascades Off Of Hwy 74

Miles: 0.2 Time: 25 min Difficulty: Easy Best Season: Spring Elevation Gain: 67 ft Max Elevation: 2198 ft Type of Trail: Out & Back Parking Lot: Turnout, Fits 20+ cars Dogs: Allowed on a leash Restrooms: Not Available Excluding the plethora of graffiti, Ortega...

Stoddard Canyon Falls: Rock Slide & Pool

Stoddard Canyon Falls: Rock Slide & Pool

Miles: 0.75 Time: 45 min Difficulty: Moderate Best Season: Spring Elevation Gain: 160 ft Max Elevation: 3781 Type of Trail: Out & Back Parking Lot: Dirt Lot, Fits 30+ Cars Dogs: Allowed on a leash Restrooms: Not Available Trail Popularity: High Pics Taken On: May...

Hello, There!

I’m Phillip, and just like you, I feel very passionate about California and the outdoors. After many years of exploring amazing and hidden places, I thought I’d share them with you. Life goes by fast so get out there and enjoy it.  

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