The cart was put before the horse when road builders constructed a massive concrete bridge over the San Gabriel River in 1936. Engineers planned to build a direct route from the San Gabriel Valley to Wrightwood, but they finished this mid-point bridge near Azusa long before they built its connecting byways. In 1938, a flood washed out the partly completed road to the south, leaving the 120 foot high structure stranded. Today, the lonely Bridge to Nowhere still arcs gracefully over the San Gabriel River, providing one of Southern California’s oddest, albeit epic, hiking destinations.
Getting here requires some work. It’s a 16 km round-trip hike on the East Fork Trail along the San Gabriel River. The trail crosses the river so often that you quickly abandon all hope of dry feet. Typically the flow is only a foot or two deep—refreshing on a warm day—but it can swell to impassable after big storms. The final stretch leads to the high-walled canyon known as the Narrows, where water squeezes through a deep and narrow gorge, spanned by the Bridge to Nowhere. Your first glimpse of the bridge is astonishing—it’s much larger and majestic than you’d expect—but the weirdness doesn’t stop here. This is also the site of Southern California’s only commercial bungee-jumping operation, run by Bungee America. You may get to see a few daredevils take the plunge. Or if your idea of fun is plunging off the side of a bridge, a bungee cord attached to catch your fall, then you could be up there too.
With its inviting destinations and uncrowded wilderness, this region feels like an insider’s secret amid the bustling excitement of Southern California.
Mount San Gorgonio—nicknamed “Old Grayback”—is the tallest peak in Southern California, at 11,502 feet/3,506 metres.
Surprising alpine scenery around Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear beckons, with pine-scented trails in summer and winter sports when the snow flies. If you’re into action, get the adrenaline rush of seeing the world’s best NASCAR racers compete at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. For a dreamier escape, float in a hot-air balloon above rolling Temecula Valley wine country.
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