Horse Flats Campground is a 25-site camping spot operated by the Angeles National Forest in San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, located in the high elevation of the San Gabriel Mountains. At 5,650 feet above sea level, or a mile higher than Los Angeles, the campground feels far from home, even through it is only about 30 miles from the city at the base of the mountains. As the name would imply, this is an equestrian-friendly campground with hitching posts and corrals for campers arriving on horseback. You can drive up too. All sites are first-come first-serve for $12 per night. Fire rings, picnic tables and vault toilets are provided, but drinking water is not available.
Horse Flats Campground is nestled in a pine forest alongside Mount Hillyer. The mountain air at the campground is quite pleasant. The surrounding Jeffrey pines give off an enticing scent and sagebrush around each site spice up the aroma.
The twenty-five campsites are spread out along a single paved loop. Some of the sites are set back from the road a short distance to offer extra privacy. The campground has two horse corrals as well as several more hitching posts. Horse Flats Campground seems to receive fewer visitors than nearby campgrounds like Buckhorn Campground, which makes it an enjoyable place to tent camp away from crowds. If you like to hike, it is 1 1/3 miles from Horse Flats Campground to the summit of Mount Hillyer via Mount Hillyer Trail, which departs from the Campground. The trail also connects to the Silver Moccasin Trail, an over 50-mile long track crossing the San Gabriel Mountains.
Expect colder nights at this elevated campground. The road into Horse Flats is narrow and room to park at each site is limited, so only smaller RVs, up to 20 feet long, are allowed. The campground is open from the end of March to mid-November (depending on snow levels). Call (818) 899-1900 for current conditions and additional information. Don’t forget to bring your own water!
To get to the campground: From the 210 Freeway in La Cañada Flintridge, head northeast on Angeles Crest Highway (CA 2) for 28.4 miles to Santa Clara Divide Road (Forest Road 3N17), which is two miles past Newcomb Ranch. Turn left on Santa Clara Divide Road and drive 2.3 miles west over a winding road, until you turn left again on a final narrow paved road into the campground.
Campground address: Forest Service Road 3N17, San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, Pearblossom, CA 93553
Campground coordinates: 34.345048, -118.010675 (34° 20′ 42.17″N 118° 00′ 38.43″W)
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This 6,215-foot summit can be reach from two trailheads for a 3 to 6.25-mile hike gaining between 575 and 1,000 feet. The shorter route begins from Horse Flats Campground
This 3.8 or 4.4-mile hike ascends from Charlton Flats Picnic Area to Vetter Mountain, where the site of an old fire lookout tower has exceptional 360-degree views.
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