I just got back from an overnight camping trip in the Angeles mountains north of Pasadena. We stayed in a small hike-in campground called Hoegees, about three miles in from the parking lot. I’d never been there before, but we were looking for somewhere that would allow dogs so Thor could come, and locally that means National Forest land since both State Parks and National Parks are very restrictive about pets.
It turned out to be a real find. The trail up to the campground is in really good shape, with around a 1000 foot gain over the 3 miles, and some great views down the canyons. It’s placed at the bottom of a small gully alongside a seasonal creek, in the middle of a grove of bay trees. For most local camping there’s a lot of fire restrictions, with only small gas stoves allowed. Here they not only had fire pits and stoves at each site, they even let you burn fallen wood so you didn’t have to pack in your fuel. We had a wonderful evening around the roaring fire, and some fun hunting down extra wood in the dark when we ran low.
The area used to be a hiking resort, and there’s still a whole lot of cabins nearby that people lease from the Forest Service. These are pretty interesting places, with no power or water, mostly dating back to the 30’s. There’s even a ruin in the campground you can pitch your tent in if you want a spooky experience.
It’s first-come, first-served with 15 sites and no reservations or fees at all. We were there on a Saturday night, and though there was a group of Boy Scouts, most of the sites were empty. You’ll need a Forest Adventure Pass to park at the Chantry Flats trailhead parking lot, but since that was full we used the nearby Adams Pack Station lot for $5 a day. We stopped and chatted to the owner Rich Conforti on the way out, and he told us about the work they’d been involved in to keep the trails maintained, which explained the great shape they’re in.
If you want to do this hike and camping, I’d recommend getting both Tom Harrison’s Angeles Front Country map, and John Robinson’s Trails of the Angeles which describes the hike in along Upper Winter Creek trail, and an alternate lower route we took out which went alongside the creek.