See bottom of post for a video of this hike.
How would you like to spend an entire day hiking to a bridge in the middle of nowhere?
If you’re in Southern California, you’re in luck because there’s a popular trail in the San Gabriel Mountains that leads to a bridge that literally leads nowhere and feels like it’s in the middle of nowhere.
Aptly, this hike is called Bridge to Nowhere.
I originally planned on including details in this blog post about how to get to this oddly located bridge. But after less than an hour in, I tossed that goal to the gutter: the trail is unmarked and it was challenging to keep track of any distinguishable landmarks.
My advice on how to get there?
- Check out these blog posts on Modern Hiker and Hikespeak. They explain the route in detail
- Go with a companion/companions who have an excellent sense of direction and let them be your GPS
- Get to the trailhead on an early weekend morning and find some bungee jumpers to follow because they know how to get there (I suggest weekend morning because I’m not sure if a lot of bungee jumpers go on weekday mornings)
- If you end up getting confused, take a step back and search for a clear path – that’s your best bet. Also, don’t go too far away from the river
Other important tips:
- You’ll need to have an adventure pass to park at the trail head. (See photo on the right.) It costs $5 and you can get it at places like Big 5, as well as a cafe (which will be located on the left) on the way to the trailhead. I’ve heard that people have actually gotten towed without this permit. It would really suck to conclude the hike to find your car has been towed, so be sure to invest that $5 to keep your car safe!
- When driving to get to the trailhead, if the last direction your GPS gives you is “turn left onto Shoemaker Canyon Road,” DON’T DO IT! It’ll lead you to a dead end with a metal fence, which is not the trailhead. Instead, just stay on E Fork Road and ignore that turn on Shoemaker. Even if it feels like going to the trailhead on E Fork Road is going nowhere (like the hike to the bridge will feel), you’ll eventually see a bunch of cars parked along the road and a parking lot.
Although this bridge is in such an arbitrary place, the reason for that is because it was part of a project that would have connected the San Gabriel Mountains to Angeles Crest Highway, a long road that runs through Angeles National Forest. Construction on the bridge began in 1929 and finished up in 1936, but floods in 1938 washed away the plan.
Now, it’s the end of a memorable hike that’s around 9-10 miles round trip.
While I’m not comfortable writing about directions, one thing I can say is that anyone who does this trail should expect to cross some streams several times. It is possible to get across without getting your feet wet (thus, saving yourself from possible blisters), but it is easier to just cross the streams. Also keep in mind your toenails will become very soft by the end if you hike in wet shoes.
And one landmark to watch out for is a smaller bridge along the trail that hikers call the midpoint.
Despite the documented distance, the pedometer app on my boyfriend’s phone posted us completing 15+ miles in 8 hours. It was probably because we wound up taking a bunch of detours.
Food-wise, we survived collectively on:
- 4 bananas
- 4-6 granola bars
- 4 English muffins with cheese and turkey
Water-wise, we made it out having consumed about 2 liters of water each, but had some extra water just in case.
We did do the hike on a day where the highs were predicted to be in the high 70s and we started before 7:30am, though, so we didn’t need to drink much water in the first few hours. With that, I’d recommend starting as early as possible so that you don’t need to carry too much water or potentially run out of it.
Note that there are no bathrooms along the way, so it’s a good idea to use the toilet beforehand. There’s one at the parking lot near the trailhead in case you need to go right before you start. For females who expect needing to go while hiking, it might be a good idea to bring a towel in case you need to go in an area where there are no bushes or any type of cover. Personally, I didn’t need to go at all because I probably sweated out all the water I drank.
My boyfriend and I spent about an hour at the end of the trail once we got there, watched bungee jumpers courageously drop off the bridge, ate lunch, and walked around in the stream.
(P.S. They really don’t give the jumpers much time to stand on the ledge – the countdown is quick and begins at 5.)
There’s a reason that Bridge to Nowhere is a popular trail, and it’s one I think that’s worth doing more than once. Even for those who are pitifully unfit (like me), this hike isn’t impossible. I hadn’t even walked 10 miles in the last several weeks – combined – before trekking up to the bridge.
As a result, I was sore for two days after :/
I hope this post inspires you to go on this amazing So Cal hike if you’re able to and haven’t yet, and if not, to find a cool trail in your own backyard 🙂