This “Bridge To Nowhere” hike is a day trip away from Los Angeles

California’s “Bridge to Nowhere” is one of the most scenic hikes in the San Gabriel Mountains, and it’s a short drive from LA

In the middle of California’s San Gabriel Mountains lies the Bridge to Nowhere hike, one of those hikes that pumps up adrenaline and dopamine levels, especially for the adventurous at heart. While hiking along the San Gabriel River in the beautiful mountain wilderness, a vast 120-foot bridge comes into view. The classic Southern California hike known to all locals is well worth trying. The roughly six-hour hike through the beautiful mountain wilderness is fun and enjoyable, especially on a sunny summer day when stream crossings and water holes can cool the heat.

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How did a catastrophic event and a powerful decision lead to the bridge from nowhere?

Built in 1936, north of Azusa, the Bridge to Nowhere is an arch bridge that spans the East Fork of the San Gabriel River and was built as part of a path connecting the San Gabriel Valley Gabriel at Wrightwood. However, in 1938, cataclysmic flooding in the San Gabriel River ruined the road leading to the existence of the bridge to nowhere. About a decade later, in the 1950s, during the tedious paranoia of Cold War nuclear holocaust, the government decided to build a highway through the San Gabriel Mountains to help people evacuate from Los Angeles to the Mojave Desert.

The desolate Bridge to Nowhere was therefore a new escape route. A fun fact is that the road is also locally called “Convict Road” because in 1956 work began on the new path carried out mainly by convicts. Of the 25-mile route, only 5 miles were completed as work progress was slow, and in 1969 work was abandoned altogether, leaving an unfinished road, which today is the “Highway to Nowhere”, no never going from here to the bridge.


When is the optimal time to walk the bridge to nowhere and what to expect?

Anytime would be a good time for a hike on the bridge. However, some things should always be taken into consideration. Here are some helpful recommendations to optimize the hiking experience.

  • If it is winter in Southern California or if it rains heavily, the San Gabriel River can flood. Water can reach waist high and even portions of the trails which would not create the best experience. On these days it is always recommended to postpone the hike.
  • If there is a chance of thunderstorms or heavy rain on the day of the hike, there may be dangerous flash floods (deaths have been recorded due to flash floods in this area).
  • On the contrary, if the hike was organized on a hot summer day, it can be brutal and excessively tiring, which will diminish the pleasure and enjoyment. It is always advisable to leave at sunrise to avoid the heat, the crowds and the overflowing parking lot. Also, snacks and water should be brought.
  • If a quick swim is on the menu, it goes without saying that a swimsuit is a must under your clothes with a quick-drying towel.
  • An application that allows sending and receiving SOS text messages when there is no cell phone signal must be downloaded.
  • The hikes can get crowded, especially on weekends, so choosing a sunny weekday is advisable. Additionally, there is a fair amount of yuca and thorny plants; Therefore, long pants would be a better option than shorts.
  • There are primitive bathrooms in the parking lots and a few minutes from the trail.


For all hikers, whether amateur or professional, here is the description of the hiking trail to better understand what to expect:

  • Total distance: 10.5 miles (16.9 kilometers)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Duration of the hike: More than 6 hours (total)
  • Total ascent: 1,870 feet (570 m)
  • Highest elevation: 2,755 feet (840 m), adding all ups and downs 1,900 feet (579.12 m)
  • Fees and permits: Pass required, Parking
  • Dogs allowed: Leash
  • Alerts and closures: San Gabriel Ranger River District
  • Park phone number: (+1) 626-335-1251

Related: The 10 Best Hiking Trails in Los Angeles, Ranked

How do I get to the bridge to nowhere and what is the elevation profile of the hike?

The Bridge To Nowhere is a thirty-minute drive north of downtown Azuza, California. The drive to the place is both entertaining and spectacular as it winds up the side of the San Gabriel Canyon with views of all the rivers and reservoirs below. A pass that can be received from the parking lot is required to access the trailhead. If no parking space is available, the secondary road can be used as a parking lot.


Many guides report about 800 feet (243.84 m) of elevation gain from the start to the end of the hike. However, taking into account all the ups and downs and undulations, the elevation changes to more than double the original elevation and sums it up to 1900 feet (579.12 m).

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