Overview: A Little Canyon on the Slopes of Strawberry Peak
If one chooses to explore the canyon bottom, and has gear for a few rappels, a convenient point of departure is where the trail crosses the creek about 0.8 miles from the start at about 3,950 feet elevation. Scrambling down the canyon from here will open up the canyon's beauty as you make your way under lush tree canopies, inviting rock pools, and nice canyon breezes.
Although Brennen’s Adventure Hikes and Canyoneering in the San Gabriels suggests that there is only one place in this section of the canyon where you might need gear to assist the down climb, as of April 2007, there were four waterfalls where a rappel seemed to be the only option.
The canyon gets extremely narrow in places, virtually just a few feet across. But the beauty stays remarkable. After less than a mile of down canyon travel, you will encounter the regular trail where it starts to ascend the east wall of the canyon. Once back on the trail, you will be back at the trailhead in just a few minutes.
Red TapeYou will need an Adventure Pass or Golden Eagle Pass to park your vehicle at this trailhead. These passes are currently sold at the Clear Creek Information Station ($5 per day or $30 for a yearly pass), which station you pass on the way to the trailhead. Otherwise, Adventure Passes are also sold at most sporting good stores in Southern California.
No permits are required for hiking in this canyon.
CampingThe nearest campground is Commodore Switzer southwest of the Colby Canyon Trailhead. The best access to this campground is from the Switzer Picnic Area Trailhead, just about ½ mile from the Colby Canyon Trailhead along SR 2.
Other InformationUSGS ToposCondor Peak 7.5; Chilao Flat 7.5
As in any creek-side habitat in the San Gabriel Mountains, poison oak is abundant in the canyon so take the usual precautions. And, of course, when walking on the canyon bottom, you will unavoidably, in some places, have to submerge your feet in the water so bring appropriate footwear.
In the spring and summer expect plenty of bugs.