Prepare carefully for a springtime visit to the Angeles National Forest

Release Date: Mar 21, 2024

Contact(s): Dana Dierkes, 626-698-8482 (cell)


From wildflowers and high water at low elevations to winter at high elevations

ARCADIA, Calif, March 21, 2024— Are you planning a springtime visit to the Angeles National Forest and San Gabriel Mountains National Monument? Not all forest / monument sites have Los Angeles’ warm weather! Conditions at forest destinations range dramatically from blooming flowers and high water in the foothills to snowy and icy conditions at high elevations. This means you need to prepare carefully before your visit and take extra precautions during your visit.

Please keep the following trip-planning tips in mind:   
 
Know Before You Go! 

  • Learn about the places you can go! Visit the Angeles National Forest website at Angeles National Forest - Home (usda.gov) and click on “Discover Your Forest” and on “Alerts and Warnings.” Call or email us in advance and/or stop at visitor center for updates upon arrival, too.
  • Is now a good time to go? Check weather forecasts before arrival. Visit Los Angeles, CA (weather.gov), and pay close attention to references to mountainous areas. Consider obtaining a more specific location-based forecast for your destination, e.g., Chilao, Mt, Baldy, etc.  
  • Check to see if you need specific passes or permits. Buy your pass in advance--Angeles National Forest - Passes & Permits (usda.gov)NEW: In addition, daily passes can now be purchased 24/7 by credit or debit card only at a new automated fee machine at the San Gabriel Canyon Visitor Center, 1960 N. San Gabriel Canyon Road, in Azusa.  
  • Review safety tips before your visit - Angeles National Forest - Outdoor Safety & Ethics (usda.gov). NOTE: Hiking at high-elevations requires additional preparation, clothing, equipment, and training, especially during winter conditions. (See below under During Your Visit and the High-Elevation Hiking section.)
  • Dress for success for your desired activity and location. Be prepared for any potential encounters with snakes, ticks, and poison oak.
  • Most main roads into the Angeles National Forest and San Gabriel Mountains National Monument are not managed or maintained by the USDA Forest Service. More info: Angeles National Forest - Alerts & Closures (usda.gov).
  • Certain areas may be temporarily closed for storm damage.
  • Cell service is non-existent in nearly all of the Angeles National Forest and San Gabriel Mountains National Monument.  
  • Leave No Trace! Please bring a trash bag or two with you to help keep the Angeles National Forest beautiful. Put your trash inside trash cans and dumpsters. Please consider taking your trash home with you if cans/dumpsters are full. 

Prepare Your Vehicle 

  • Make sure your vehicle has a full tank of gas! There are no gas stations in the Angeles National Forest or San Gabriel Mountains National Monument.
  • Winter weather conditions on roads could still be possible before summer. Always be aware of potential wet, snowy, and icy conditions.
  • Winter travel requires special preparations for your vehicle—Winter Driving Tips | Caltrans.
  • Snow chains or cables may be required during your visit. Bring them and know how to use them - D8 Winter Weather Travel Tips (youtube.com). 

During Your Visit:  

  • Save a life!
    • Park only in designated or legal parking spots. Do not block roadways, gates, trailheads, dumpsters, or areas marked for authorized vehicles only. Why should you care? This allows emergency vehicles to pass, thereby helping to save the life of someone's family member / friend or perhaps even your own life in the case of a medical emergency or future wildfire.
    • Slow down. You never know what is around the next blind curve. There could be another vehicle, black ice, rain-soaked pavement, rocks, mud, flooding, or something else in your lane! 
  • Waterfalls/Rivers/Creeks/Streams: Forest visitors are reminded to use extreme caution around and near waterfalls, rivers, creeks, and streams for several reasons, including:
    • Even when there is no rain in sight, water levels can be very high in the winter, spring, and/or summer due to snow and ice melting in the mountains.
    • Undertows (strong currents in the water) are invisible but deadly! Water may appear calm on the surface, but a strong current could sweep you off your feet and downstream. Avoid entering water higher than your knees.
    • Never swim or wade upstream near a waterfall, even if the water appears shallow and calm. Currents close to the falls can pull swimmers over the edge. Even stream crossings can be dangerous.
    • Nature rearranges waterways when it rains. It is for this reason that we recommend “Do not jump into waterfalls / creeks / streams or other bodies of water.” You never know what is in the water beneath you. Rocks and boulders, trees, branches, and other natural or man-made features could cause major injuries, paralysis, or death. This can be true even in places where people have jumped into the water recently.
    • Stay on official trails only. Following user-created trails (also known as social trails) instead of official trails can lead to unsafe routes or situations.
    • When water levels are high, consider hiking at another time instead.
  • High-Elevation Hiking: Hiking to high elevations in the mountains is nothing like a normal winter hike. Don’t be fooled by warm weather at a trailhead only to find snow and ice ahead.
    • There is a higher potential for injuries or death when hiking at high elevations. Steep mountain faces mean that one wrong step could be your last. Outdoor environments contain natural, seasonal, and weather-related hazards.  
    • Tennis shoes, high heels, and flip-flops are not considered appropriate footwear on mountain trails at any time of the year.
    • Be prepared with: 
      • Compass and paper maps 
      • Extra food, water, and clothing 
      • Mountaineering boots and crampons
      • Helmet and ice axe 
      • Winter mountaineering training 
    • Share your plans. Tell others where you are going and when you plan to return.  
    • Do not travel alone.  
    • Hiking at high elevations can take much longer than anticipated, so plan extra time and take more food and water. 
    • Expect rapid and severe weather changes along high-elevation trails year-round.  
    • North-facing slopes do not receive much sunlight and can be very icy or snowy.  
    • Melted snow or ice along your hiking route could refreeze before you hike back and long before dusk or nightfall. 
    • Rescue may be difficult or impossible. Be prepared to spend the night, if necessary.  
    • You are responsible for your own safety. 
    • Keep yourself and rescuers out of danger by not taking unnecessary risks.  
  • Snow Play: There is little to no natural snow in much of the forest right now, but weather conditions could still change this spring. If we get more snow, please remember:


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