The San Gabriel Mountains are the shoulders of the Southland, protecting (some say trapping) Los Angeles with its glitz and glamour, celebrity personas, and nouveau riche from the rest of the world.
As mountains go, the San Gabriels, which extend west-to-east 63 miles from the Ridge Route to Cajon Pass, are a gentle range. Ridgelines are sinuous rather than jagged, summits rounded rather than angular, slopes tapered rather than sheer. But the San Gabriel does have several fantastic peaks over 9,000 feet, the highest being Mount San Antonio (aka Mount Baldy) at 10,064 feet.
Most importantly, however, are the range's major watersheds: the San Gabriel River, whose three main forks and countless tributaries drain fully 20% of the mountain precipitation. Other important watersheds are Pacoima, Little and Big Tujunga, Arroyo Seco, Santa Anita, San Antonio and Lytle Creek canyons on the south slope of the range, and Little Rock and Big Rock creeks on the north.
Why is any of this important? Because canyoneering in southern California is all about the San Gabriel Mountains. The sheer number of canyons in the San Gabriels and their varying technical diversity allow persons of all ages and skill levels to enjoy the sport of canyoneering, which simply put, involves hiking up mountains and rappelling down a series of waterfalls back to your starting point (hopefully).
Outside of the United States, most countries refer to canyoneering as canyoning. But whatever you decide to call it, it is quite possibly the most fantastic wilderness sport on earth! Because of the size and number of wet canyons in the San Gabriel Mountain range, canyoneering in southern California is usually highly technical, necessitating the use of the same gear and techniques employed in caving and rock climbing.
One should never go canyoneering in southern California alone, however, and always leave your itinerary with someone not on your trip and who is often paranoid about your canyoneering adventures anyway (they are more likely to call for help should you not return on time). Flashfloods are common, especially in the winter months, and if you don't pay attention to warning signals (e.g. saturated ground, hostile cloud formations, increases in water level or current flow, etc.) or to local weather forecasts, you could very easily end up as one of many canyoneering casualty tales.
You can avoid these concerns with an Extremethings.com's recreational or technical canyoneering course. Our expert canyoneering guides know every nook and cranny of the San Gabriel Mountains and can lead you, your friends, club members, or corporate group through some of the most fabulous canyons in southern California including:
- Great Falls of the Fox
- Rubio Canyon
- Hastings Canyon
- Little Santa Anita Canyon
- Bailey Canyon
- Suicide Canyon
- Supercloud Canyon
With our canyoneering course, you will receive a comprehensive rappelling instruction, learn how to build anchors, the use of all technical equipment, canyon navigation and rating systems, basic knot tying, and efficient rope deployment. Besides, canyoneering in southern California is just about the most exhilarating adventure you will ever undertake.
So amidst the flash of paparazzi cameras, red carpet movie premiers, and plastic hard bodies, the San Gabriel Mountains rise up and out of the Los Angeles basin creating a sanctuary for seekers of solitude and outdoor adventure. Along with its sunny beaches, abundant wildlife, and year-around moderate temperatures, some say the San Gabriel Mountains is further evidence that God favors the City of Angeles above all others.