Chantry Flats seems like a rite of passage for Southern California hikers. It seems that everyone I have run across has hiked around there, whether to the Falls, or Mount Zion or the various other hikes you can do there. I decided to final get in the groove and drove up to Chantry the other week with my cousin to get see what all the fuss was about.
One of the things you immediately notice about Chantry, other than the terrible parking situation, is the clear alpine air that smacks you in the face and tells you to make it a sandwich. It is amazing how great the air is only 30 minutes from LA.
Chantry is popular, no question and like all popular trail, the signage is top notch.
The downside of popular trails is well, that they are popular and the first .60 of a mile is paved and full of people.
My suggestion, instead of looking straight ahead at the multitudes, I highly suggest that you look up, the vistas
and the amazing vertical slopes that surround you on the trail.
Eventually you make your way down-canyon and enter a completely different environment full of lush green grass (grass SoCal people, grass!) clover and various green mosses.
Green, green, green, green green.
Also, the trail moves from asphalt to trail dirt which is a welcomed change. You then follow the stream emanating from the Falls as it it goes over rocks
man-made waterfalls and ducks.
Also along the trail are multiple cabins which are privately owned despite being in a national forest. They were originally constructed with the Forest Service's blessing almost 100 years ago and were grandfathered in when the FS changed its mind later in the century. If you owned one of these things, you have to hike in to it, you schelp all your food and supplies in by donkey, it is outhouse-only and you have to adhere to historical preservation standards but man, I want one of these cabins!
After the cabins, you have to cross the stream twice to get to the falls with some precarious rock hopping. It is nothing too bad but I suggest practicing on a balance beam a few times before doing this trail.
The falls are the summation of this hike and are well worth your time getting to em.
Given the amount of people on the trail, not all of them made it to the falls but there were a decent number of people there. Given the amount of people the falls sees on any given day, the area was surprisingly clean with very little garbage. This was not the case at all with Eaton Canyon which was a trashocolypse.
On the way back from the falls, we opted to hike the First Water Trail instead of doing the pavement up.
Now, let me tell you that the First Water Trail lives up to its "water" name. There are multiple boulder hopping rock crossings for the first .40 of a mile
and as long as you don't faceplant in the water, you eventually make it to the other side and then start making your way up the steep canyon walls back to the start.
The elevation gain is no joke but the path is a great little singletrack, kayak trail with few people on it so it definitely satiates your thirst for nature taking this trail back to the Adams pack station.
Speaking of the pack station, it is a great place to stop off for a burger and a beer, the perfect combination after a day of hiking.
Overall the falls are worth your time if for no other reason than to get you up into the mountains and experience some great vistas and air. It was great sharing this day with my cousin and I hope to get back and explore some of the other Chantry trails soon!
If you want another good write up of this trail check out Hikespeak: http://www.hikespeak.com/trails/sturtevant-falls/
or the pack station website: http://adamspackstation.com/