The devastating San Gabriel Complex Fire that struck the mountains above Duarte has unfortunately damaged many portions of the Duarte Fish Canyon Falls Trail and it is now closed. Over the last two years, the City of Duarte, with grant funding from Los Angeles County partnered with the Angeles National Forest to repair and renovate the trail. Once re-opened, combined with the access trail built by Vulcan Materials Co, the falls quickly became one of the most popular hikes in the San Gabriel Mountains Monument area.
The City is doing everything possible in conjunction with the Angeles National Forest Service to reopen the trail as soon as possible. The fire destroyed trees, brush, slopes and root systems throughout a major portion of the canyon. Once the vegetation was destroyed, the roots gave way and landslides occurred throughout the trail. The steep hillsides and cliffs continue to erode and slide and with the onset of rain, many more slides will continue to occur. However, there are natural forces including erosion and the regrowth of vegetation and trees that will take time. Eventually, the hillsides will stabilize and vegetation will return. This process could take a couple of years or longer, however, the City will work closely with the Angeles National Forest to make reopening the trail as a top priority. Please log on to www.accessduarte.comfor updated information on this and Duarte’s other trails.
Historic Duarte Fish Canyon
During the “Great Hiking Era” of the early 1900’s, Fish Canyon was one of the premiere outdoor recreation destinations in the San Gabriel Valley. At one time over 50 cabins dotted the canyon, along with several miles of trails, and a dance hall at the mouth of the canyon. During the fire of 1958 and the subsequent flooding of 1959, most of the cabins were destroyed. Only four cabins remained until the mid 1970’s when they were torn down. Today, there is one trail left in Fish Canyon and remnants of the cabins can be found along the trail. Access to this superb natural and historic attraction was severely curtailed when Azusa Rock expanded its quarrying operation in the mid 1980’s and in the 1990’s a 9-mile long access trail was built by the City of Duarte to circumvent the mining operations and connect to the Duarte Fish Canyon Falls Trail.
The 9-mile round trip 1990’s trail built to access the Duarte Fish Canyon Falls is now closed. Please do not attempt to enter the wilderness through this area. Vulcan Materials Company has blocked access and you will be trespassing if you enter this area.
The Duarte Fish Canyon Falls Trail can now be accessed through the newly constructed Azusa-Vulcan access trail that travels through the mining and quarry operation before reaching the “Old” trail. The new access trail is located on Vulcan Materials Company's Azusa Rock Quarry property. The Access Trail and parking lot is located in Azusa at 3901 Fish Canyon Road and is open daily year round.
Directions: From Foothill Boulevard, take Encanto Parkway until it turns into Fish Canyon Road. Continue on Fish Canyon Road until it ends. Quarry is on the left. Enter through the Access Trail Gate.
After years of limited accessibility and maintenance, the Duarte Fish Canyon Falls Trail was in a neglected state but after much hard work by the Duarte Trail Crew the trail is now safer, wider and more accessible. Hikers and visitors are still warned to enter at their own risk and hazardous and dangerous conditions exist and severe drought conditions exist in the canyon creating high fire danger. Even in the best of conditions, portions of the Duarte Fish Canyon Falls Trail are steep, rocky and narrow with very high cliffs and loose rocks. Ticks and poison oak are currently prevalent. Hiking boots are strongly recommended. Hikers are warned to read and obey all trail signs.
The City of Duarte was recently awarded grant funds from the LA County 5th Supervisorial District Excess Funds Program and will continue to partner with the Angeles National Forest Service and the San Gabriel Mountains Trail Builders to restore the trail to a safer and more beautiful state. Work will continue this fall and winter. Hikers will find a beautiful 3.2 mile round trip trail that climbs high above scenic Fish Canyon before several descents take you to the clear flowing water of Fish Creek. As you descend into Fish Canyon, hikers should beware the poison oak – it’s abundant at all times of the year. Learn to identify it! The trail through the canyon is an easy to moderate hike along a sometimes-narrow trail and great caution must be taken along some of the steep cliffs that provide a spectacular view but that can be dangerous to an unattended child or inattentive hiker. Hikers should try to spot cabin foundations and remnants of those who previously lived in the canyon and enjoy the soothing stream and the diverse plant and animal life. Near the end of the trail, hikers will cross to the other side of the stream and after about 1/3 mile they will be rewarded with the spectacular site of Fish Canyon Falls. This is a great place to rest before heading back. Visitors to the falls are strongly cautioned to not swim or dive into any pools nor climb on any rocks and heed the end of trail sign. These areas are treacherous and a fall or a dive into a pool may be fatal.