NOTE: There is no longer access to the route described below from the campground to Millard Falls. In addition, as of early September 2014, the campground has been closed due to significant bear activity at the campground. Undoubtedly, it will reopen at some point. Check with the Forest Service about the status of this campground if you're thinking of camping there.
This trailhead abuts housing developments on the hillsides of Altadena, California, but affords ready access to one of the prettiest waterfalls in the front range of the San Gabriel Mountains, Millard Canyon Falls, as well as to the Brown Mountain Fire Road and adjoining trails.
The trailhead features a developed public campground, the Millard Canyon Campground, situated next to a stream. The stream has water in it most of the year. Here, you can pitch a tent only a few miles from the busy metropolis below. From the campground, the 50 foot Millard Canyon Falls are only a half mile away (east) along a trail that follows the creek upstream. Especially after a rain, these falls are a magnificent sight.
Crossing the stream north of the campground will get you onto the Brown Mountain Fire Road. This is a popular mountain-biking, as well as hiking, trail. A little over a mile from the start of the fireroad, the El Prieto Canyon Trail comes up on your left from its 2-mile ascent from the lower Arroyo Seco Canyon. Continuing on the fire road, in just under 3 miles, you come to a large saddle. Here, you have the option of continuing on the Brown Mountain Fire Road or taking another fire road that descends southwest for 2.6 miles into the lower Arroyo Seco Canyon.
If you continue from the large saddle on the Brown Mountain Fire Road, the fire road tops out after 3 more miles. At this point, you are 6 miles from the trailhead. Here, you can pick up the steep east ridge of Brown Mountain and follow it about 2 miles with 1600 feet of gain to the summit (4,466 ft.). Alternatively, you can hop onto the Ken Burton Trail (a wooden sign marks the start) which trail takes you on a 3 mile descent into Arroyo Seco Creek. From here, there are other trail options to continue exploring the San Gabriel front range.
DRIVING DIRECTIONSFrom the 210 Freeway exit at Fair Oaks Ave. and take Fair Oaks north toward the mountains. At Loma Alta Drive, turn left and proceed about ½ mile to Chaney Trail Drive. Turn right onto Chaney Trail Drive and ascend to Sunset ridge where you make a left and take the road down to the bottom of Millard Canyon. Here, there is a large paved parking lot next to a stream. You will need an Adventure Pass to park here.
From the parking lot, proceed through or around a white gate about 100 yards to the campground. At the upper end of the campground, cross the stream to pick up the Brown Mountain Fire Road to your left.