Overview: A Little Canyon on the Slopes of Strawberry Peak
NOTE: THE TRAILHEAD MENTIONED BELOW HAS BEEN CLOSED OFF DUE TO DESTRUCTION CAUSED BY THE 2009 "STATION" FIRE.
Colby Canyon is a picturesque little canyon on the southern slopes of Strawberry Peak in the San Gabriel front range. From the Colby Canyon Trailhead
(elevation 3,480’), a maintained trail starts on the canyon bottom along the creek. After about a quarter mile, the trail pulls up and to the right to avoid several small falls along the canyon bottom and starts to climb the east wall of the canyon to Josephine Saddle. From this prominent saddle, Josephine Peak is accessible to the west and Strawberry Peak to the east.
Strawberry Peak from the Colby Canyon Trail, 4/28/07
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.
Looking down canyon in Colby Canyon 4/28/07
Pools in Colby Canyon 4/28/07
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.
Waterfall in Colby Canyon 4/28/07 (rappel ropes on right)
Small tree anchor in Colby Canyon 2/28/07
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.
As mentioned above, this trailhead is currently closed.
From the 210 Freeway, exit at Angeles Crest Hwy (SR 2) and go north. At 9.5 miles, you will come to the Clear Creek Information Station and junction with Angeles Forest Highway. Continue straight for 0.8 more miles and where the road starts to descend and curve to the right you will spot a large dirt parking area on your left. This is the Colby Canyon Trailhead.
Colby Canyon Trailhead parking
Main access to Colby Canyon
You 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.
The 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.
USGS 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.
Information for Angeles National Forest