The bridge to nowhere is a concrete arch bridge, built in 1936 as part of a roadway along the east fork of the San Gabriel River, leading to a gold rush town. In 1938, a torrential flood washed away almost everything… except this bridge. It now stands alone, rather out of place, in the canyon. I had been eyeing this hike for some time - maybe it’s the civil engineer in me, or perhaps it’s my fascination with changing landscapes.

So on a sunny May morning, Brian and I set out.  When we arrived at the trail-head, the parking lot was full. We were lucky enough to catch someone leaving and took their spot. As crowded as it seemed, not half of the people parked were going all the way to the bridge. There were campers, fishermen, recreational gold miners, and people just playing in the river.

Robinson said that the scenery here is unmatched for Southern California Standards, and I would have to agree. The scenery was absolutely beautiful. It’s also mind-boggling to try to imagine what this canyon looked like just 80 years ago. Although remnants of the road bed remain in some places, at most locations you are left wondering “How did they put a road here? What did it look like?” Undoubtedly, the landscape has experienced a great deal of change over the last 80 years.

According to Robinson, the trail fords the river 14 times. Well, we forded the river 9 times on the trip to the bridge and 7 times on the return trip because we took two slightly different routes. The first half of the trail was pretty clearly marked (the yucca had been trimmed, markers were tied to plants; but as we got closer to the bridge, the brush became progressively more overgrown and less well marked. It occurred to me that there was not one clear trail, but several trails which intermingled, following separate routes and meeting again further down the road. We did run across two dead-end trails, and talked to people who found themselves on at least two other dead-end trails. It may be difficult to avoid getting lost on this trail, but the best way to minimize getting lost is to use good judgment. The trail follows the river, so you should not ascend the canyon wall until the very end of the hike. If you come across an unclear junction, chose the path that looks like it has been maintained (i.e. one trail has yucca that has been trimmed and the other doesn’t - chose the one that’s been trimmed).

Also, make sure to wear shoes that you don’t mind getting wet. On the trip to the bridge, I took my hiking boots off at every crossing and went barefoot through the water. On the way back, I kept my shoes on. Brian hiked the entire 9 miles in flip-flops. It’s much easier (and safer) to cross the river in shoes.

When we arrived at the bridge, a bungee-jumping company was there with a pretty large following of people. Considering how few people we saw along the trail, I was surprised to see so many people at the bridge. We didn’t jump, but we watched people take the plunge as we ate our lunch in the shade of the canyon. We then played fetch for a while with someone’s dog before heading back down the trail.

This entry was posted on Saturday, May 16th, 2009 at 9:38 pm and is filed under Hiking. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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