Date/Time Change! OCLB - Tunnels to Nowhere/Shoemaker Canyon Road Trail

  • Sun, January 23, 2022
  • 9:00 AM - 12:30 PM
  • Tunnels To Nowhere/Shoemaker Canyon Road Trail
  • 0

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  • Easy + hike.

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Date & Time Change to: Sunday January 23 @ 9 AM!

Unfortunately when this hike was originally scheduled I forgot that our quarterly Corporate Board meeting had been scheduled for Saturday the 22nd.  

Since I am required to attend the Board meeting, I have no choice but to change the date to Sunday vice Saturday.  I'm so sorry for this disruption.  I do hope that everyone who is signed up will be able to make it on Sunday.  

Again my sincere apologies!

Tunnels To Nowhere Hike

(aka Shoemaker Canyon Road Trail)


Start time: 9:00 A.M. Meeting Place: Trailhead at the gate.

Details: Easy – 5.0 miles roundtrip

Roundtrip - 1,404 ft gain/loss (easy slope)

I would estimate this hike will not take longer than 2 hours or so.  The four hour listed for time includes going to Flappy Jacks (see below) for some yummy-licious food!

This is the perfect hike for those you want to experience California's mountain wilderness without an arduous, strenuous and exhausting death march!  

Easy, slow paced and relaxing trek with the option of gathering for late breakfast/brunch @ Flappy Jacks Pancake House afterward when we return via Azusa/Glendora!  

I call this the Tunnels To Nowhere Hike, but officially is known as Shoemaker Canyon Road Trail, which is a 5 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Mount Baldy, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. I would rate this as EASY as the change in elevation is hardly noticeable since it has a slow sloping gain.  The trail is primarily used for hiking. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

This is an interesting hike with two abandoned tunnels, chaparral, and nice canyon views.

Background:  In the early days of the Cold War in the late 1950's, the government decided that L.A. needed an escape route in case of a nuclear attack. Building Shoemaker Canyon Road was the supposed solution. But they soon abandoned this ill-conceived project, leaving a "road to nowhere" and nasty scars in some of the most rugged and beautiful terrain in the San Gabriels. Today, this well-graded dirt road penetrates several miles up the East Fork of the San Gabriel River, on the east-facing slope hundreds of feet above the water. And then it ends. No glamorous destination. The road just stops abruptly in the thick brush on a steep mountainside. The hike begins at the locked gate and proceeds up the road about 2.5 miles, passing through two long road tunnels in route. At the end of the second tunnel is where the maintained road ends. We will go through the second tunnel and then turn around to our starting point.


Frederick and Doug traverse one of the Tunnels.

Getting to the Trailhead: 

From the 210 Freeway extension, driving East: Take Exit 40 to CA-39 N/State Road 39/ Azusa Road. Turn left on to CA-39/N Azusa Road.  Stay on CA-39 which turns into San Gabriel Canyon Road for approximately 11.8 miles.  Turn  right on E. Fork Road (crossing a bridge) for about 3.4 miles.  Turn left on Shoemaker Canyon Road for about 1.8 miles where you will dead-end at a parking lot. 

From the 210 Freeway extension, driving West: Take Exit 40 to CA-39 N/State Road 39/ Azusa Road. Turn right on to CA-39/N Azusa Road.  Stay on CA-39 which turns into San Gabriel Canyon Road for approximately 11.8 miles.  Turn  right on E. Fork Road (crossing a bridge) for about 3.4 miles.  Turn left on Shoemaker Canyon Road for about 1.8 miles where you will dead-end at a parking lot. 

The trail starts starts at the gate blocking the road.

A National Forest Adventure Pass is not required for parking however it is always good to possess this or an America the Beautiful-National Parks Pass whenever parking in such areas.

No Adventure Pass Needed - Previously a National Forest Adventure Pass was required for parking at this trailhead since it is within the Angeles National Forest. As of September 2016, the Recreation Enhancement Act restricts the requirement for an Adventure Pass to only sites that provide designated amenities, such as picnic tables, toilets, and trash receptacles. Visitors do not have to display a recreation pass if they park outside these sites.

You may also use (but not required for parking at this location): 

  • The America the Beautiful — The National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands Pass covers all:

    National Parks

    National Forests

    National Wildlife Refuges

    Bureau of Land Management sites

    Bureau of Reclamation sites

    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sites

The parking lot can get full on weekends hence the early start time as well as recommending carpooling.

What to Bring:

You should bring your ten essentials (Click here for the list.), a day pack, water (2 to 3 liters), trekking poles, sunscreen, hat, trail snacks, lunch, and plan on wearing hiking boots or shoes (preferably waterproof).

Carpooling is recommended to help reduce gas cost and parking. There is NO FEE for this trip.

Lance Whitmier will be leading this hike.  

He can be reached at:    President-OCLB@GreatOutdoors.org 

"I hiked this trail in Spring 2021 and was so surprised to see these tunnels (there are two of them) in the middle of nowhere!  This is a light-hearted easy-going trail with canyon views.  An extremely refreshing experience!  Definitely something different!"


Richard K. and Lance at one of the tunnels encountered on this hike.

A BIG shout-out to Richard K. for the beautiful black and white photographs used in this posting!

Special COVID Related Requirements:

Participants must comply with the following requirements as a condition of registering for this event:

  1. I will follow Federal, State and local COVID guidelines as well as the directions of the leader.
  2. I will maintain social distance (min. 6') and wear a face mask if social distancing is not possible
  3. I will not attend if feeling ill or have any symptoms of COVID.
  4. I will contact trip leader if I test positive for COVID within 14 days of the event 

 ‘I Accept’ and will comply with these requirements as a condition of participating in this event.

NOTE:  Due to COVID restrictions, please DO NOT show up for this hike unless you have completed a registration process here and have answered the required COVID questions. Also, do not bring any unregistered guests on this hike.


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