**** Please note: Switzers Camp & the Gabrielino Trail is a heavily used campground. Please observe the 15mph speedlimit while descending this trail. If you are courteous, once you see hikers, please slow down & match their speed w/ a hello! ****
From the Northwest Corner of the Redbox Parking area (Directly infront of the Restroom facilities) you will locate the unsigned trail head for the Gabrielino Trail-Red Box to Switzers Camp ground. The trail is another 5.0 miles in lenght back to your car & Elevation loss of 1200 feet.
Drop down the tight switchback and this trail widens up. Riding under the canopy of Oak and Pine trees, you should see the Angeles Crest Highway paralleling this trail above you. A few miles down this trail it will tighten up a bit thus turning technical in nature. There are numerous outcroppings to negotiate and stream crossings. There are numerous flood control dams along the way built in the early 1900's to ward of the repeat devastation of the floods of 1936. This ruined almost all the resorts in the San Gabriels. Keep in mind, due to the close proximity of the stream, poison oak is present. Near the end of this trail, Switzers Camp is maked by a beautiful wooden bridge and paved parking area. Traverse the bridge and work your way out of the canyon. Enjoy the steep climb to Angeles Crest Highway.
210 freeway exit Angeles Crest Highway and turn towards the mountains. Switzers Camp is located 1/4 mile from the junction of Angeles Crest Highway & Angeles Forest Highway just past the Ranger station. You may purchase a day use or Annual forest adventure pass here.
Park at the entrance to Switzers camp and work your way up to Redbox 5.0 miles away / 1,200 feet elevation gain where you will locate the beginning of the descent for ride. You have three options. A) Ride the graded Angeles Crest Highway B) Ascend using the Gabrielino Trail C)Use the Strawberry Peak loop (Extreme)
Summary: Update on trail conditions. I rode this trail recently for the first time after the fire. I used to combine it with the Josephine Peak Road and Strawberry Peak trail (both still in the indefinitely closed burned area) for a 16.5 mile loop. This time I parked at Clear Creek Junction, rode up the road to Red Box and down the trail for a just under 10 mile loop. I'm happy to report it is open and ridable following the original route without much changed except it hasn't seen much traffic and is a bit overgrown in places. Watch out for poison oak! With a bit of use it should be back in fine shape soon. Enjoy ;)
Recommended Route: Parked at Clear Creek Junction, ride up the road to Red Box and down the trail for a just under 10 mile loop.
Summary: From Red Box down Gabrielino Trail through Switzer Campground. Cross the stream to the north / west side. Continue on down trail which temporarily rises above and to the north / west of the falls. Do not drop down into the stream below the falls. Continue all the way to the Parking Lot just outside JPL (on Arroyo?).
Recommended Route: Approximately 1 to 2 hours for intermediate level of rider. Not recommended for beginners. Lots of technical riding. We have biked up and back down which can be an all day affair. Instead, I recommend leaving a vehicle at the bottom and driving up with bikes to Red Box. The downhill is difficult enough, with the hike and bike sections, to feel like you got a full ride in.
Other recommended trails in the same area: El Prieto from JPL or to the top of Brown Mountain, back down to the saddle and down to El Prieto. The Brown Mountain road is all fire road while El Prieto is a cool single track.
Summary: Started at Red Box, first time. Had ridden El Prieto the week before. Went over map with someone working at the ranger station, she gave us a map. She advised us to go down trail til we hit Bear Canyon Trail and take that to the top of what we thought would be El Prieto. Well to sum this up, WRONG WRONG WRONG. Rode Bear Canyon to the bottom then had to hike up the other side lugging 40lb. DH bikes. Reached the top thinking we would be near the fire rode which would be El Prieto. WRONG again, ended up at the top of the Dawn mine trail. At this point it was 7:30 and dark. Proceeded to lug our bikes down that canyon roughly 4 miles to the campground at the bottom in the dark. Luckily I had hiked that trail the yr before and remembered a bit of it. Had to use cell phones to light the way in pitch dark. Very sketchy descent, lucky to be alive, didn't get out of woods til 1:30 AM! Moral of story go w/ someone that knows the trail DO NOT take other peoples directions.
Should be noted that the first part of our ride was great. Good singletrack, some minor techincal sections. some of the path has some downed trees, but all in all the top part was a great trail.
Summary: Beware, this route is far different than the reviews mentioned on this page. My friend and I started from Chaney Road and biked all the way up to Mount Wilson. Ya, a nice ten mile climb, but it was an epic day, so we trekked on. We headed down the highway to the Gabrielino Trailhead. Going down was fun, the sheer dropoffs inches from my wheels kept you in check. To add difficulty to this trail, fall leaves covering the trail were hiding the true edge of the cliff. It was a great wide, but there was a thought looming in the back of our heads, (how do we connect back to Mt Lowe down to our car off chaney road.) A fun ride, it was about 3 PM, maybe a little earlier when things started to turn worse. As we entered Switzers Campground, It was at this point we had to hike a bike, 10-20 too many times. We connected to a couple dozen water crossings that was more difficult than one might think. It involved frogleaping over sunken pebbles covered with algae. Suffice to say, my feet were wet and the time was 4:20PM, it was getting dark...and we could not hang and relax, there was a tense feeling around my bud, we needed to keep moving…..we had no idea where the bail out route was from this point. In fact, every time we tried to cross a stream, we struggled to pick it back up. Finally a sign posted to Pasadena, gave us some hope. As we crossed the long wooden bridge, we felt more comfortable to be on a fire road, practically pitch black, no lights, except a trusty flashlight that my friend finally put to good use. We both did not panic, although my friend said, “we need to move quick” as he was worried about not picking up the trail anymore in darkness, and a small light. We kept going up, logic told us, go up, we don’t want to be on some trail at total darkness, which it was the entire fireroad up to a nice suburb off stardust, pointing down to angeles crest highway. Thank god for new residential building on Stardust that made streets for us to find that led us to the jack in the box mentioned above, where we both ate two tacos spicy chicken, 2 chiabatas, and we were still hungry. What an epic…..the moral here is know your trails and don’t end the routes that you don’t know at night. We never could have forcasted that it would be so late. We were never going to connect thru bear canyon trail at night, it looked crazy. I was riding a Santa Cruz Blur LT, and my friend was riding a Salsa Dos Niner.