Hiking Eaton Canyon to Idlehour Campground

This week's featured hike is a walk from Eaton Canyon to Idlehour Campground – In the rain!

When it was raining two weeks ago, and most people were indoors—dry, and warm—I chose to venture into the cold, wet outdoors—and it was worth it!

My friend and I hiked in the rain through Eaton Canyon to Idlehour Campground.   We parked at Eaton Canyon’s Visitor Center and hiked down the standard Eaton Canyon Trail to Mount Wilson Toll Road. Hiking in rain can be tricky on some small trails, but the Mount Wilson Toll Road is wide and well defined. We hiked a few miles past the well-known Henniger Flats campground and another .75 of a mile to the Idlehour trailhead.  

The Idlehour trail is beautiful. We passed a series of small waterfalls and Manzanita trees, which turn a vivid red-brown when wet. Farther on, the trail turned and provided a view of the rolling green hills of upper Eaton Canyon and Mount Harvard. After about a mile and a half of hiking downhill, the rain stopped; we arrived at Idlehour Campground.

Idlehour is a lesser-known campground in the San Gabriel Valley. Nestled in a vibrant, natural canyon setting adjacent to a trustworthy water source, this secluded campground provides an escape from the loud, crowded Los Angeles metropolitan area only a few miles away. A few fire pits for cooking and some perfect places for pitching a tent make this spot ideal for backpacking, but the natural setting itself is worth the trip; Idlehour looks more like Yosemite than Southern California.  

After a 20-minute break, we returned the way we came, enjoying the view all the way back to the car. A coworker of mine once said, “There is no such thing as bad weather – just ill-equipped hikers.”

Because our rain gear kept us dry and warm, my friend and I braved the uncharacteristic weather and were rewarded with a hike truly worth writing about.

Hike At A Glance:

Difficulty (1-10):  5 (steep at times Distance 13 miles roundtrip Scenery Dirt road, wooded, streamside Best time to go: Year-round, when weather isn’t too hot. Trail condition: Dirt road is great, Idlehour Trail is well-marked Other considerations: You can filter water at Idlehour Camp. Also, the Mount Wilson Toll Road is fairly exposed and will get very hot in the summer. Be careful to avoid poison ivy and poison oak, as they are known to grown in this area.
Amy McLean March 12, 2011 at 02:35 PM
Hi, Matthew, Thanks for writing about Idlehour. I haven't been there in many years, and have been wanting to go with my husband for a while. It's great to know that it has survived the fires and big storms. As a rather out of shape almost-senior-citizen, I think I would want to do it in two days, staying a night at Henninger on the way. Used to be water and flush toilets at Henninger and I wonder if you know if those ammenities are currently available. Thanks again for your article(s). I am inspired to get out there!
Matthew Cavanaugh March 15, 2011 at 07:09 AM
Hey Amy- Those amenities are still available at Henninger! The bathroom is adjacent to the Toll Road/dirt road. Hope you can get out there and enjoy this beautiful little camp spot! (or even Henninger, which is pretty in its own right)


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