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The Angeles National Forest

Young hikers (possibly Camp Fire Girls) in the San Gabriel Mountains, circa 1915. Courtesy of the George Grantham Bain Collection & the Library of Congress.

In 1905, the San Gabriel Timberland Reserve (or San Gabriel Forest Reserve), established on December 20, 1892, was transferred to the U.S. Forest Service and, on March 4, 1907, declared a National Forest. On July 1, 1908, the San Gabriel Timberland Reserve was combined with the San Bernardino Forest Reserve and Santa Barbara Forest Reserve and given the new name Angeles National Forest. In 1925, the eastern portion of the Angeles National Forest was parted off to reestablish the San Bernandino National Forest. The present Angeles National Forest encompasses the San Gabriel Mountains and Sierra Pelona Mountains and lies mostly within Los Angeles County. The forest also includes a portion of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, established on October 10, 2014, by President Barack Obama.

The following text is from the web site of the U.S. Forest Service



The Angeles National Forest provides the striking backdrop to Southern California's largest metropolitan area, the city of Los Angeles. The forest's 655,387 acres includes almost the entire San Gabriel Mountain range. Topography on the forest ranges from mountain peaks over 10,000 feet to low-lying canyon bottoms at a mere 1,200 feet above sea level. Dense pine and fir stands cover the higher elevations, while shady riparian areas, and broad expanses of chaparral cloak the foothills and lower elevations.


The Angeles was the first forest preserve established in California, thanks to the exhaustive efforts of conservationists determined to protect this major watershed in Southern California. Protecting vegetation, preventing erosion, and ensuring a fresh, continual flow of water was the original purpose of the Angeles.

Fire management is an important part of maintaining the watershed. Firefighting in Southern California has become very specialized in order to deal with the explosive chaparral environment. It requires sophisticated fire suppression techniques, and a massive fire prevention campaign. In addition to protecting the land, fire managers must also contend with the growing number of homes and other structures, as development continues to press against the borders of the national forest. Fire prevention efforts must reach homeowners, as well as be heard by the massive numbers of visitors who come to camp, to cook, and play on their local national forest.


The Angeles is the backyard playground to residents of Los Angeles and surrounding communities. The forests offers year-round opportunities for camping, hiking, swimming, boating, picnicking, and sightseeing. Over 500 miles of forest trails lead hikers, mountain bikers, equestrians and off-highway vehicle riders across rugged backcountry, along high, scenic ridges, and through shady, tree-lined canyons.

Campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis, with a 14-day stay limit. Reservations may be made for the group campsites. Occasional area closures make it necessary to contact the forest for current information on a campground's status.

Fishing and hunting are popular activities. Recreational target shooting is permitted in specific, designated areas. Snow play and skiing draw thousands to the Angeles high country. Six developed ski areas offer groomed slopes and miles of cross-country trail. Avalanche hazards exist and skiers must remember to stay within boundary areas.

Several sites within the Angeles offer accessible facilities for wheelchair users, and for those with limited mobility.


The rugged San Gabriel and Sheep Mountain Wilderness areas cover more than 125 square miles (or 80,284 acres), with elevations ranging from 2,400 ft. to over 10,000 ft. The Cucamonga Wilderness lies on the border of Angeles and San Bernardino National Forests. It is jointly managed and offers another 13,000 acres of natural, unspoiled beauty. Despite the incredible numbers of people who visit this national forest, you do not have to walk far to elude the crowds. Wilderness areas provide islands of solitude for those seeking to escape the noise and chaos of urban life.


The Angeles is surrounded on all sides by a sprawling, urban metropolis. Add to that the easy access by state and county highway systems, and the growing trends for residents to recreate close to home, and the Angeles enjoys the unique designation of a truly "urban" national forest. The Angeles hosts over 3.2 million visitors each year, making it the second most visited national forest in the nation. The urban proximity also places many demands on forest resources outside of recreation. Land uses range from important telecommunication sites, utility corridors, and mining operations, to providing locations for the local Hollywood film industry. "Local community" for an urban forest is as encompassing as that forest's vision. The Angeles National Forest contributes to the local communities in many ways, including participating in Southern California programs that provide employment and job training to urban residents from as far away as South Central Los Angeles.

For maps and additional information, please contact:
Angeles National Forest, Information Office
701 N Santa Anita Ave, Arcadia, CA 91006
(626) 574-5200 or (626) 574-1613

---End of U.S. Forest Service text---

Maps of the Angeles National Forest

In 1915, the Angeles National Forest was the first national forest to require campfire permits.
Source: Fire in the Forest, A history of forest fire control on the national forests in California, 1898-1956, by Robert W. Cermak

The Angeles National Forest received an estimated 4.4 million visits during 2011. This included an estimated 2.2 million general forest area visits, 1.4 million day use visits, 593,000 overnight use visits and 167,000 wilderness visits. A survey for that year offered the following breakdowns of visitor race/ethnicity and activity:

Race/Ethnicity of Visitors to the Angeles National Forest (2011 Survey)

Race/Ethnicity Percent of Angeles NF Visitors Percent of Angeles NF Wilderness Visitors
American Indian/Alaska Native 5.0 6.3
Asian 14.5 19.3
Black/African American 4.7 3.6
Hawaiian/Pacific Islander 3.3 2.5
White 77.3 73.3
Hispanic/Latino* 20.1 26.5

* Hispanic/Latino may be of any race

Source: USDA Forest Service National Visitor Use Monitoring

Activity Participation by Visitors to the Angeles National Forest (2011 Survey)

Activity Participation Percent Participation 1 Percent Main Activity 2
Hiking / Walking 61.8 46.2
Viewing Natural Features 35.8 2.8
Relaxing 35.7 7.5
Viewing Wildlife 27.3 1.0
Driving for Pleasure 11.8 2.4
Picnicking 10.7 1.7
Downhill Skiing 10.3 9.4
Visiting Historic Sites 9.3 0.3
Developed Camping 9.0 2.8
Nature Study 8.2 0.1
Activity Participation Percent Participation 1 Percent Main Activity 2
Fishing 7.3 5.5
Some Other Activity 7.0 6.2
Nature Center Activities 6.5 0.1
Motorized Water Activities 5.3 3.4
Other Non-motorized 4.4 1.1
Bicycling 4.3 2.9
OHV Use 4.3 3.6
Gathering Forest Products 2.6 0.4
Motorized Trail Activity 2.4 1.1
Backpacking 1.4 0.2
Activity Participation Percent Participation 1 Percent Main Activity 2
No Activity Reported 0.6 0.6
Hunting 0.6 0.4
Non-motorized Water 0.5 0.2
Cross-country Skiing 0.3 0.2
Resort Use 0.2 0.0
Other Motorized Activity 0.2 0.0
Primitive Camping 0.2 0.0
Horseback Riding 0.1 0.1
Snowmobiling 0.0 0.0

1) Survey respondents were able to select multiple activities, so this column totals more than 100%.
2) Survey respondents were asked to select just one activity as their main reason for the forest visit. Some respondents selected more than one, so this column totals slightly more than 100%.

Source: USDA Forest Service National Visitor Use Monitoring