Southern California Creeking
© 1996-2010 by Gary Valle' and Gary Gunder

Little Rock Creek

Cooper Canyon to the South Fork

IMPORTANT NOTICE - WARNING!


SUMMARY
MUCH OF THIS REACH OF LITTLE ROCK CREEK IS IN AN AREA THAT HAS BEEN CLOSED TO PUBLIC ACCESS TO PROTECT THE ARROYO SOUTHWESTERN TOAD. PUBLIC USE IN THE CLOSED AREA IS PROHIBITED.
Location:

Angeles National Forest, north of Los Angeles, California

Put-in:

Confluence with Cooper Canyon (5600'). To reach the put-in start at Buckhorn Campground (6400') and hike 1.75 miles on the Burkhart trail past Cooper Canyon Falls to the confluence with Little Rock Creek. Buckhorn Campground is on the Angeles Crest Highway near Mt. Waterman. Several Southern California hiking guides describe the hike to Cooper Canyon Falls.

Gradients:

1) 210   2) 200   3) 220   4) 260   5) 260   6) 280   7) 200   7.3) takeout
Average: 219 fpm

Take-out:

Confluence with the South Fork (4000').

Shuttle:

Approximately 45 minutes. From Angeles Crest Highway, follow Sulpher Springs Rd. past several church camps and a turnoff to Horse Flats campground to "Alder Saddle" and forest road 5N04. Follow 5N04 down the South Fork to the confluence with the main stem of Little Rock Creek. Forest road 5N04 had just opened when we did the run and at that time did not require 4WD or a high clearance vehicle.

NOTES

The year round closure of 3,000 acres in the Little Rock Creek drainage to protect the Arroyo Southwestern toad prohibits access to the takeout and much of the creek.

On Little Rock Creek you can look down on tiered pools of a half mile long granite rapid and see drop after drop stepping down to a hazy pool far below. Beyond, the creek rounds a rocky ridge and drops again and again, in an incredible staircase of runnable rapids.

This small creek located in the San Gabriel Mountains, north of Los Angeles, is an adventure boater's dream. It starts at 5600 ft. in a lush pine and cedar forest near Cooper Canyon Falls, and ends at 4000 ft. in the high desert chaparral in the Little Rock Creek recreation area, dropping 1600 feet in a little more than 7 miles! Most of the rapids were runnable, many were outrageous, and several were remarkable. Three miles have average gradients of over 260 fpm. The next to the last mile, from 5.3 to 6.3, averages 300 fpm! Action is non-stop throughout the run, except for a few very short pools.

The streambed is granitic and many of the rapids in the forested upper section of the run are ultra-clean bedrock ledges. As you descend the canyon, and the gradient steepens, the rapids evolve into well eroded combinations of boulders and bedrock. Some spectacular rapids result. Every configuration of rapid that you can imagine is found: little ledges, big ledges, ramps, slides, slots, boulder gardens, S-turns, and more. There are perhaps fifty (or more) distinct drops on this run, and most were boat scoutable!

Related information:

Southern California Creeking
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