A short trip report in the back pages of a 1930s a hiking magazine described of a place in the San Gabriels I had never heard of before:

Little Grand Canyon- East Fork of Alder Creek From Charlton Flat, hike by road and trail, west down the canyon, following the canyon when it and the trail separate, down the rock-walled forge of the East Fork of Alder Creek. No trail but fairly good going. Return by the same route. Distance as you like

The trip report was written in the Trails Magazine, Spring 1938 edition by Arthur N. Carter (mountain pioneer associated with the early San Gabriels).

East Fork of Alder Creek rests quietly in modern day Charlton-Chilao Recreation area. The Silver Moccasin Trail follows its creek briefly before continuing up towards Chilao

ChilaoOvergrown road leading to a forest service pump house

canyonPines, chaparral, boulders in East Fork

Just a short distance down, the canyon walls close in and instantly the feeling of remoteness is felt. Car-sized boulders stack up but still, a a small stream appears.  Pines dotted the canyon edges and smooth rock-walls appeared. Our turn around point was at a section that felt too exposed for down-climbing. The stream cascades down to a narrow defile with pools and the lower western range of Big Tujunga forms the backdrop. Eventually the stream joins Alder Creek, a major tributary to Big Tujunga Creek. In the recesses of theses mountains lies an esoteric world.

Alder CreekSergio in the gorge looking out towards Big Tujunga region

mThe cool shaded canyon provides relief from the summer heat. Photo by Sergio


In the same issue of Trail Magazine, Arthur Carter recounts a longer memory of the backcountry and East Fork of Alder Creek:

In 1924, with my daughter and two of her school girl chums, we spent several weeks at Chillia, roaming much of the surrounding area including Horse Flat, Pinon Fat, upper Little Rock creek, Buckhorn Flat and Mt. Waterman, including the wild south slope. One trip we will always remember was down the beautiful, rock walled gorge of the East Fork of Alder Creek through scenery so fine that we named it Little Grand Canyon.  On this trip we stopped at the Loomis Ranch for one of those chicken dinners for which Mrs. Loomis was famous.