Hoegee's Hues

There's more than waterfalls flowing at Big Santa Anita Canyon: A less-traveled woodland loop in the area is currently awash…

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There’s more than waterfalls flowing at Big Santa Anita Canyon: A less-traveled woodland loop in the area is currently awash in autumn colors. Jump on the 5-mile (round-trip) Lower Winter Creek Trail to Hoegee’s Trail Camp, and it’s likely to be just you and the gargling streams and rustling trees. The hike starts on the busy, paved section of the Gabrielino Trail, but within half a mile you’ll lose the crowds and begin walking through a canopy of sycamores, alders, and big-leaf maples whose yellow-orange leaves blanket the path. Add in the deep red of the occasional poison oak and the contrasting dark green of low-growing ivy, and the kaleidoscope is complete. A moderate 1.5-mile climb passes rustic cabins and tops out at Hoegee’s Trail Camp. The campground sits next to the creek’s most playful stretch and is shaded by large oaks dropping acorns (watch your head!). Have a snack at one of the picnic tables before returning by way of the Upper Winter Creek Trail. Early switchbacks gain elevation quickly, and then things smooth out on a narrow, canopied trail that hugs the side of the canyon. Near the finish, a few breaks in the trees frame distant views of L.A. to close the loop on a colorful afternoon.

From the 210 in Arcadia, exit Santa Anita Ave. and drive north for 2 miles until it becomes Chantry Flat Rd. Continue 3 miles up the mountain until the road ends at the Chantry Flat trailhead and parking lot. Buy a $5 Adventure Pass at Adam’s Pack Station. (If general parking is full, Adam’s will let you park in its lot for $10—no Adventure Pass needed.) Begin down the paved trail at the Chantry Flat trailhead; after 0.5-mile at the signed junction, head west on Lower Winter Creek Trail to Hoegee’s Trail Camp. After 1.5 miles, pass Hoegee’s, and continue upstream to a signed junction. Take a left on Upper Winter Creek to return to Chantry Flat trailhead after 3 miles. Dog-friendly!

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