Angeles National Forest is the second oldest National Forest in the country, classified as such in the 1890’s before any world war, nuclear bomb, or car graced this earth. Unfortunately the world as we know it now has encompassed and changed the world as it was in the 19th century. In 1892, the population of Los Angeles was hovering around sixty thousand people, and needless to say these people were not driving motorcycles at breakneck speed, with a noise level that makes them known throughout the entire canyon. Now this is exactly what can be found in this section of the park.
What Makes It Great
The World of Chaparral Trail at the George’s Gap trailhead is named as such because of shrubland plant community that can be seen throughout the hike (sometimes too much). Although there are a few negative parts about the hike, it is altogether a nice and pleasant experience.
It is immensely beautiful yet is often marred by its lack of upkeep and overcrowding. This hike should connect to a larger network of trails in the National Forest, but chaparral overgrowth prevents that. Negligence, along with trash littered around parts of the trail (mostly the sections closest to the road) makes this hike almost great. That being said, perhaps someone will return this trail to its initial beauty and save it.
From George’s Gap, the World of Chaparral Trail enters an interesting network of trails, but for the best day hike without too much car noise, take this route. Follow the switchbacks down the mountain until you reach the first railhead marker (yes, the trail starts out descending). Take the path that points you towards the Grizzly Flat Road via Hoyt Mountain Trail. This will give you some great views, but you can only take it about a mile as the overbrush gets to be too much and covers the trail. No matter though because the views you get once the trail becomes impassable is a stunning look at the valley.
If you want to take a little detour to a small creek on the way back, take a left at the initial junction and follow the trail to “the Pines.” In this drought plagued California environment, this stream is not too impressive but it is still nice to see.
Who is Going to Love It
This is a hike with switchbacks that do not last too long, and never get too steep making this hike doable for most any active hiker. You need to be able to ignore the noise from the motorcycles on the road. If you are able to do this, the stunning views will make you happy you took the trip.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Take Interstate 210 (“The 210”), then take the Angeles Crest Highway/CA 2 exit and turn up the hill. Follow the winding road about 8 miles until you get the second wide turnout with delineated parking spots on the left side of road. Look to for a trailhead marker that reads “Georges Gap Trail” and a plaque commemorating Angeles National Forest. Plenty of parking here (Adventure Pass Needed).