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Garcia Trail / Azusa Peak (2081')
Azusa / Los Angeles County / Angeles National Forest / Southern California


Garcia Trail Closed TRAIL CLOSED: The Colby Fire, which began on January 16, 2014 and incinerated the mountainsides above Glendora and Azusa has caused the closure of Garcia Trail and neaby Colby Trail until further notice. I will post updates as they become available. See my Colby Fire blog post.

Garcia Trail Closed Update 2-4-14: The City of Azusa has announced that because of the extensive damage to Garcia Trail and degrading conditions that will continue, L.A. County Fire and Department of Forestry has closed the trail indefinitely. The photos of fire damage to our beloved trail are quite telling. See presentation here: Garcia Trail Update (2-3-14)

See these official links for unfolding information and updates: The Azusa PD issued this statement: “Should you proceed past the signs advising the trail is closed, you are not only risking your safety, but may be subjected to both civil and criminal liabilities.”

Other social networking sites with discussion regarding Garcia Trail (beware of some misinformed and unconstructive comments):
Garcia Trail Damage

1-26-14 - Garcia Trail Damage. Photo from City of Azusa View large image
Garcia Trail Damage

1-26-14 - Garcia Trail Damage. Photo from City of Azusa View large image

The bottom line: It may take years for the mountainsides to be stabilized enough for the trail to be restored for safe usage.

icon Meanwhile, here are a couple nearby trials to hike:
Garcia Trail Trailhead camera Visit my Garcia to Colby Farewell Tour - December 31, 2013
Azusa, Glendora, Angeles National Forest.



Please consider everything on this page for historical purposes only. I will substantially rewrite this hike guide once Garcia Trail is restored and reopened to the public. It could take years.

Trail Stats
Mileage (r.t.) 2.4
Trailhead 840'
Ridge road 1880'
El. gain 1040'
Gain per mi. 866'
A hike you will see most often cited in my log is Garcia Trail. This great little trail starts at the fire station on Sierra Madre Avenue between Azusa and Glendora and climbs 1,040 feet in 1.2 miles. Once you arrive at the Glendora Ridge Motorway, a dirt service road that runs along the ridge, you can hike east to several summits with splendid views of Azusa, Glendora, and the valleys beyond. And there are great views up the San Gabriel Canyon and to the back ranges beyond.

Garcia Trail is steep, climbing some 866 vertical feet per mile. But the trail is well traveled and makes a nice workout hike (popular with students and staff from nearby Azusa Pacific University). A typical trail in the San Gabriels gains 400 to 600 vertical feet per mile, so Garcia Trail not only gives the legs and lungs a workout, but it also provides a reference mark in evaluating other trails.

Azusa Peak

Azusa Peak - Looking southwest (1-29-12). View large image
The heavy storms of 2004 and 2005 caused significant rutting and erosion on the trail, creating poor footing in many places. But some years of use and some ad hoc trail maintenance have helped the trail to be in reasonable condition. On May 9, 2011, a crew from LA County fire camp 16 performed significance trail maintenance, removing brush, widening the trail, and regrading the tread.

Garcia Trail has become immensely popular and hundreds of people could use the trail on a typical weekend day.

Season: All Year

As a general rule in the San Gabriels, the front range is best hiked in the cooler months, and the back range is best in the warmer months. Garcia Trail and Azusa Peak sit in the front range. The best season to hike Garcia Trail is roughly November through May. However, it's doable in the summer if you go at the crack of dawn while the day is still cool. This hike can be miserable on a hot summer day. Early in the summer the "June Gloom" (marine layer, coastal fog) can make nice walking conditions but also can greatly obscure your views. See Seasons of the San Gabriels for a detailed description of minding the seasons.

Getting to the Trailhead:

From the I-210 Foothill Freeway, exit at Azusa Avenue. Go north on Azusa Avenue (toward the mountains) and drive 1.7 miles to Sierra Madre Avenue. Turn right (east), drive 1.1 mile to L.A. County Fire Station #97 - 18453 Sierra Madre Ave. Park on the north side of the street in front of the houses or along MacNeal Drive south of the roundabout. To access the trailhead, walk up the path to the left of the fire station driveway. Garcia Trail starts at the north end of the grass area. If you are coming from the east, the fire station is 0.5 mile from Barranca Ave. View Map Below

Trail Description:

From the fire station, walk across the grass area adjacent to the station to begin the trail at the north end. The trail climbs steeply, staying primarily on or about the ascending/descending ridge. There's not much shade in route but the chaparral is thick and mature. Some of what you'll see is laurel sumac, toyon, canyon live oak, tree tobacco, California buckwheat, brittlebush, sunflower, cliff aster, honeysuckle, wild cucumber, dodder (witch's hair), poison oak, coastal sagebrush, white sage, black sage, whipple yucca, mustard, deerweed, monkeyflower, and horehound. In the spring and early summer you are treated to an array of blooming wildflowers.

At about three quarters of a mile the trail crosses over to the west slope and makes its final pitch to the top ridge. This is the section that can be seen clearly from the city below. In this section, there are a several places where erosion has narrowed the trail, so watch your step.



Azusa Peak (2081') - Looking north from Monrovia Nursery in Azusa. The nursery land has been sold and will be turned into 1,250 new home. We shall miss this views. See zoomed in view with labels.
Photo January 2005
At 1.2 miles you reach the ridge and the Glendora Ridge Motorway, a dirt service road closed to public vehicular traffic. From here you have several options. One is to turn around and head back. A popular trip is to veer right (east), and take the informal path up the slope to Azusa Peak (2081'), about 0.2 more miles. Enjoy the views of Azusa, Glendora, and the San Gabriel Valley beyond. It's also a nice night-hike destination with a delightful display of city lights below. It used to be a popular spot to watch the 4th of July fireworks that were shot off from Citrus College, about 1.5 miles away.

Leaving the peak you can return the way you came. Or you can proceed down the path on the east slope. Once you reach the road you can turn left and follow the road across the north slope of Azusa Peak back to top of Garcia Trail. Or you can follow the road east and hike 1.2 miles to climb Glendora Peak (see below) or for about 4 miles to Glendora Mountain Road. icon

Glendora Peak

1-30-12 - View east toward Glendora Peak from the east ridge of Azusa Peak. View large image
Glendora Peak (2596'): This large, round-top summit stands prominently over Glendora on Glendora Ridge. It is 0.8 mile from Azusa Peak as the crow flies. The summit provides commanding views, but they are partially obscured by vegetation on the north and south. The peak is not officially named, but it has become known as Glendora Peak (not to be confused with Glendora Mountain (3322'), which stands about 3 miles northeast as the crow flies). The L.A. County survey maker, placed in 1937, has the name "Glendora" on it. The peak is noted with an elevation of 2596' on the USGS topo map. And
Peakbagger.com lists it as a provisional peak.
     Bagging Glendora Peak is a nice way to extend a hike up Garcia Trail, adding an extra 1.2 mile (one way) and 580 feet in elevation gain. From the junction of Garcia Trail and Glendora Ridge Motorway, head east either on the road or up the ridge to Azusa Peak and down the other side to meet the road. The road follows the broad ridge, ascending gently at first but getting steeper as it traverses along the northwest flank of Glendora Peak. The road then cuts right (southeast) and in a few minutes reaches a section where the roads begins to curve left (east) and a use path cuts right (west) up the gentle slope a short distance to the summit (about 3 minutes).
     An alternate approach is to climb the ridge from the west, which to me is more enjoyable than walking the dirt road. To hike this approach, walk east on the road about 0.4 mile from where the use path reaches the road on the east side of Azusa Peak. Your route is a use path that veers right and heads east up the gentle ridge (the junction is across the road from a large flat area that is sometimes used for beehives). The route starts gently but then gets steep as it approaches the summit, about 0.35 mile from the road. This approach is best in the winter and early spring when the weedy grasses are low and green and pose no problems. In the summer and fall when the grasses are taller and dead, foxtails and scratchy stuff can menace your socks and legs. icon

Glendora Ridge Motorway going west from where Garcia Trail meets the ridge, descends to its western terminus at Hilltop Drive in Azusa. For many years the public could walk past the gate to enter or exit the service road, providing a popular recreational path for pedestrians and cyclists. This west-end access is now closed to the public. Razor wire on the locked gate and fences says in the harshest terms that citizens can no longer use that route. icon



Transforming Views:


View large image
Photo June 30, 2007
One of the delights of hiking Garcia Trail has been the hundreds of acres of nursery plants gracing the undulating terrain at the base of the hillside. Monrovia Nursery has occupied this land for more than 50 years, growing and shipping millions of plants. But in 2004 the property was sold and will become Rosedale, a master-planned development with 1,250 homes, 32 acres of parks, a new school, fire station, community center, promenade, and a transit square to accommodate the Metro Gold Line. As of January 2005, much of the plants in the upper section of the nursery had been removed. By January 2006, the nursery operation was gone and the grading was well underway. By June 2006, the grading was yielding streets and plots, and the water tank foundation was beginning to take shape. By June 2007 some streets were paved and some houses were nearly complete.
      The slump in the housing industry has caused the Rosedale project to slow to a grind. By 2008 new home owners were finally moving into the two completed streets. In August 2008 about 6 more houses were being framed up and grading north of Sierra Madre was commencing.
     As part of the project, the fire station is supposed to be moved a short distance away and a new trailhead for Garcia Trail is to be built, including a parking lot.
camera View Dan's Pre-Rosedale Slide Show




View Topo Map

Garcia Trail Aerial

Garcia Trail street map

Garcia Trail is within minutes of the I-210 Freeway in Azusa (2 miles east of where the I-605 intersects the I-210 in Duarte and Irwindale). Note: The Map above does not reflect the recent re-route of Sierra Madre Avenue (which now dips to the south between the park just east of Azusa Ave and the fire station) and the new streets in the Rosedale development.


Trail Notes:

  • View large image Photo August 1, 2010
    Bench on Azusa Peak - 12-31-13: Sometime in late 2011, somone installed a brown wooden bench on the peak. It has sense then been painted white.


  • Cross on Azusa Peak - 3-24-13: Since the cross was erected in February 2007, it has continually evolved. The original branding is long gone and the various signatures, sayings, scriptures, and assorted comments come and go. At one point someone affixed some tacky solar-powered lights to the cross. Thankful they are gone. In early 2010, someone completed painting the cross white. Someone also attached a white mailbox to the cross containing a summit logbook—the first entry was 4-16-10. The first book filled up quickly and a second book had been started. The mailbox disappeared and was replaced by a sturdy, steel box, which later disappeared. In 2011 the cross was toppled and then re-erected, only shorter. The cross has become an iconic fixture on Azusa Peak.


  • computer See Trail Notes Archive for more notes...


Garcia Trail Links on Dan's Hiking Pages:



1-1-11 - Looking southeast from near the top of Garcia Trail. View large image.
book Garcia Trail History

camera Pre-Rosedale Slide Show

cameraGarcia to Colby Farewell Tour - December 31, 2013

camera Aerial Photos

Topo Map

computer Trail Notes Archive

Plants Plants on Garcia Trail - May 9, 2011

blogspot Dan's Hiking Blog:
- Garcia Trail Hike - August 1, 2010
- Garcia Trail Hike - January 1, 2011
- Plants on Garcia Trail - May 9, 2011
- Beginning Summer on Garcia Trail - June 21, 2011
- Garcia Trail Hike - October 23, 2011
- Garcia Trail to Azusa Peak Hike - January 1, 2012
- Garcia Trail to Glendora Peak Hike - January 29, 2012
- Garcia Trail to Azusa Peak Hike - March 24, 2012
- Garcia Trail to Azusa Peak Hike - June 17, 2012
- Garcia Trail to Azusa Peak Hike - March 24, 2013
- Garcia Trail to Colby Hike - December 31, 2013
- Colby Fire - January 16, 2014 (forced closure of Garcia Trail)



Garcia Trail Link: Last Hiked: December 31, 2013


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This page was last updated February 7, 2014.

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