At the end of the East Fork Road, is a parking lot that fills up fast with bathroom and picnic facilities. This moderately leveled hiking trail can be as long or as short as you want. If you continue to the end of the trail, (10 miles round-trip) be sure to check the weather for thunder-storms. As in the case of all canyons, flash floods are a possibility. There was a storm coming in the evening that we hiked so we stuck with the river area near the parking lot.
The river that runs through the canyon would be a great place to dip your feet into on a hot summer day but since we went in the winter, the snow runoff was cool but bearable. My husband had to wade in to untangle my son's fishing line and he said it was refreshing.
My daughter and I brought gold pans down to the river to try our luck. We did find a few specks of gold! When looking for gold in this area, there are no nuggets but you can see a flash of color in your pan in small grains. Just fyi, there is a lot of Mica in the water looks like gold but floats. Remember, gold is heavy and will sink to the bottom of your pan and not float away. If you have young children with very little attention span, you can tell them the Mica is gold and they get very excited!
My son had fun casting his fishing lines into the river but alas, no fish were caught this day.
We were saddened to see how much graffiti there was along the river bed! It makes us mad that people haven't any respect for nature and instead of seeing the natural beauty of the area, we saw way too much spray-paint! The further we got away from the parking lot, the less graffiti we saw.
If you continue along the main trail-head up to the 5 mile hike, you will find a Bridge to Nowhere. A 130 foot cement bridge was built for a now washed away road. In the summer, you will see bungee jumpers jumping off the bridge with guides.
Due to the weather, we had to save the bridge for another day but we had a great time playing in the river and finding mistletoe! I got a kiss from my baby boy under the mistletoe.
I can see we will be back to the San Gabriel Mountains soon to continue our hiking explorations and check out the Bridge to Nowhere ourselves!