Upon hearing that CalTrans just reopened the Angeles Crest Highway on Friday, it just made sense to go check it out. We stopped at the first major parking area which happens to be the Switzer Falls picnic area and trailhead. The parking lot was full when we stopped but we were lucky enough to get a spot from someone who was leaving. The road down to the actual picnic area was still closed, so we had to walk down the road from the highway (that part sucks coming back).
I hadn’t been to this area in years due to the various closures and was excited to be back. It looked like the Forest Service had made some recent improvements to the area including new stairways, picnic tables, and bathrooms. I’m not sure if they were damaged by the fire or if it was just time for an upgrade.
We decided to do a little exploring and went off the beaten path to a cool overlook where we were at the top of a waterfall.
After the detour we got back on the main trail that takes you up to the Switzer Falls lookout, however there was barely any water coming down the falls. While we were at the lookout some forest rangers and volunteer trail builders were on their way out. They had just finished clearing the trail that goes down to Bear Canyon, but they said past that the Bear Canyon Trail gets bad.
Of course we decided to go for it. The part of the trail that had just been cleared was really nice; we got down to the trail junction in no time.
Once we got onto the Bear Canyon Trail we could definitely tell the rangers were not lying about the condition of the trail. There were many parts where we had to bushwhack our way through and there were many stream crossings.
It was worth it though; there was no one else down in the canyon with us and the scenery was amazing. As we got further down the trail we kept coming across awesome pools of water. I could only imagine coming here on a hot summer day; it would be pretty nice.
The trail was virtually non-existent in some places as we pushed on, but it made for a fun adventure down into an area that looked like no one had been in a while.
Eventually we came to an area where a huge downed tree laid across the trail and there was a thick growth of bushes where the trail once was. At this point we decided to turn back and kick back at a cool spot we had found earlier. Snacks and beers on a mini peninsula next to a waterfall I will classify as a succes.
We had been hoping to find the Bear Canyon Trail Camp but failed to do so. I’m not sure if we might have passed it or if it was further up the trail. I am probably going to go back some day to try and find it; I think it would be an awesome spot to camp. Below is the roundtrip track of our hike.