Little Santa Anita Canyon
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Difficulty:3B III (v3a2 III)
Raps:11-15, max ↨50ft
Red Tape:No permit required
26 Sep 2023
"Water flow is down (see pics); still significant in the front end. However, mid canyon it dries up and the big pothole is bone dry. Water temp is in
Little Santa Anita is a short beginner canyon, adjacent to the larger Santa Anita canyon, with many short rappels. In the past, LSA contained many water challenges but sediment from landslides has filled in many of these challenges and it is rarely more than an easy class B canyon, except following strong rains.
Exit the 210 at Baldwin and proceed north toward the mountains. Park on Mira Monte Ave next to the Mount Wilson Trail Park.
Follow the paved Mount Wilson Trail road up hill for 530 ft until there is a trail head register and map on the left. Follow the unpaved trail 1.6 miles to a Y and take the trail to the right toward First Water as specified by the sign. The stream (First Water) is the beginning of the canyon.
The first rappel is approximately 15 minutes downstream from First Water with a lot of class 2 scrambling in and around the water course. Many other rappels follow rapidly until a short lull in the canyon. Most groups pass the exit at this point and continue with three additional rappels, the second-to-last of which may contain a pothole (class B) that requires swimming during the wet season. Because of the large number of rappels, a group not using efficient rigging and rappelling practices may take substantially longer to complete this canyon. Note that several of the rappels can be skipped by a competent downclimber.
R1: 43' bolts LDC
R2: 37' from log RDC
R3: 23' bolts RDC "The Spout"
R4: 45' bolts LDC smooth slippery sloped wall to thigh deep pool
R5: 34' bolts RDC to small pothole with large pool immediately beyond
Short hike follows to:
R6: ~30' bolts LDC, very low angle; or downclimb RDC on granite slab
R7: 43' bolts RDC, low angle then steep
R8: ~30' eyebolts up RDC, low angle then steep; or slab traverse LDC; or slide center
R9: ~50' pinch point LDC, somewhat out of direct view
Moderate hike follows to:
R10: 25' bolts RDC "V" notch
R11: 10' eyebolt high RDC; or downclimb RDC
R12: 17' bolts RDC; or chimney downclimb LDC
(Optional Ridge exit prior to last three rappels)
Moderate hike follows to:
R13: 16' bolts RDC
R14: 35' bolts LDC into large pothole
R15: 10' bolts LDC or partner assist downclimb
There are two possible exits from LSA.
Near the end of the lull in the canyon, canyoneers may escape up the ridge between them and the dam. The exit point is usually well-marked with a cairn at the canyon bottom, but canyoneers should study this location on maps beforehand because it is easy to miss without the cairn. The scramble up the ridge is approximately 150 ft of elevation gain, and then there is an additional 80 ft of elevation gain back to the Mount Wilson Trail.
This exit is steep, eroded, and often covered in poison oak. The Dam exit is preferable.
Most parties continue their descent below the Ridge Exit and complete three additional rappels. The last rappel now has two bolts LDC that replace the two bolts RDC that were of questionable quality. It is also down climbable with the right conditions and skill set.
After the last of these rappels, there is a short walk to the debris basin of the dam protecting the end of LSA. Note that by taking this exit you will be trespassing. To bypass the dam, follow the road RDC over the dam, and then exit through the gate. This gate is often locked, necessitating climbing over it on the RDC side. From this point, take the middle of three streets (Idlehour Lane) down hill. Continue down hill until you reach the intersection of Mira Monte and Mountain Trail.
If taking the Dam Exit, consider visiting it from the bottom before committing to the canyon. As of SEPT-2020 there is heavy construction on slopes above the dirt road exiting the catch basin. The construction proceeds daily until 5:00 PM; it's advisable to exit after 5:30PM to avoid conflicts since you will be trespassing through the construction site.
Parking enforcement does ticket for not "curbing" your wheels in Sierra Madre. Be sure to turn your wheels toward the curb at the trailhead to avoid a $40 ticket.
Effective 14-NOV-2020 LSA is open again as the city of Sierra Madre worked with the Forest Service to adjust the Bobcat Fire Closure Area so it does not include the hike to first water or the canyon below that. Effective 9-OCT-2020 this canyon is closed through April 1, 2022 as part of the "Bobcat Fire Area, Road, and Trail Closure" for the Angeles National Forest. Forest Order No. 05-01-20-08. Link to CalTope map showing closure area is here - https://caltopo.com/m/9KEQ?fbclid=IwAR2FQQ-n-3nETK2-f1Dh_AlCh4LbOxAzGCpPxYSkR_bdsddZ9FP7ekwEOQ8
- Chris Brennen's Adventure Hikes (San Gabriels) : Little Santa Anita Canyon
- Stav is Lost - April 28, 2023
- Super Amazing Map : Little Santa Anita Canyon
- CanyonChronicles.com : Little Santa Anita Canyon
- SummitPost.org : Little Santa Anita Canyon
Trip reports and media
Like all canyons, character can vary with conditions. This video was taken the day after multi-week rains in 2010:
As of April 2022 the rappel numbers have been renumbered from 1 to 15. Before this point in time the rappels were 1 to 11 with 6 and 9 having an A, B, and C. For example the normal summer flow stops at R9 (new) vs. R7 (old). The big pothole is now R14, instead of R10