East Fork to Allison Gulch, Allison Mine, & Heaton Flat Trail

Final Stats:

Gain: 3500 ft
Distance: 13 miles

Allison Mine, one of the more difficult mines to reach in San Gabriels, provided a superb dayhike adventure.

Please also look at John’s report

View Album

Others’ photos and Meetup link here

GPS track here

KML Google Earth file

11 people showed up for this trip, all expecting and not phased by any poor weather. We started from the East Fork parking lot at about 8:45 am, which was about 45 later than I had planned due to some logistical issues. However I expected it to take us about 8 hrs for the hike, so I thought we still should be able to complete the hike before dark.

East Fork to Allison Gulch, Allison Mine, & Heaton Flat Trail at EveryTrail

I planned this hike out to be a loop hike, taking 2 trip reports from Travis Linds (gpsmountaineering) and combined portions of the them. His trip reports indicated that the trails, though previously not maintained, were actually not in bad shape as previously thought by many people.

In fact, as we reached the Heaton Flat trailhead, we ran into a group of San Gabriel Trailbuilders. I told them where we were headed, and they raised a few eyebrows saying “that trail up Allison Gulch has been washed out”. I asked when they last heard this, and it was several years ago, so I mentioned updated info indicates the trail is actually being partially maintained. They were definitely NOT happy to hear about this, indicating the illegality it. I accepted this though thinking, ‘well these guys weren’t gonna maintain it’.

So we headed off up the East Fork, and encountered our first river crossing. John has a video of me crossing.

We continued up the river, encountering a few more crossings that ate up a bit of time. I was somewhat concerned of us being behind schedule, but we picked up the pace and arrived at Allison Gulch in decent time.

The beginning of the gulch:

We headed up the gulch following a faint use trail and crossing the stream multiple times, which was relatively easy and quick. The gulch is a very nice shaded area, probably lovely all times of the year.

I had marked a waypoint for where the beginning of the trail up to Allison Mine should be, and it was evident when we got to that point.

The trail up to the mine, as mentioned by Travis, has definitely been maintained. Portion of the trail has rocks embedded in a line for support, and yuccas have been trimmed:

I actually really liked this trail. It was very steep, but did not need to use hands, and the views were great. One could say that some portions of the trail had been somewhat washed out, but nothing unreasonable.

One could see Swan Rock clearly from this trail

We continued up as the fog came in, and the trail eventually heads east toward Allison Mine.

At this point, I was looking for any indication of the old trail heading toward Stanley Miller mine. While ascending up, I was convinced I could see some indication of a trail higher up and along the contours of Iron Mt’s west side that would be that trail. However, when I reached the area where this trail would have started, nothing was clear.

I checked out one use trail, but that quickly headed into some thick brush. I then found some other use trails around a talus slope, and headed up a portion of the way. There were some more faint use trails around it, but again nothing was clear.

Anyways, we headed to the mine from this point. Someone has been camping out around here!

The first hole we found had two separate tunnels that went in probably 30 yards or so with a few branches.

Stupid commentary

Look out for John’s TR, which should photos of the bigger, and more interesting mine shafts. In the mean time, Ofir and I headed up away from the trail, trying to see if anything was left around the actually GPS coordinates of the Allison Mine location. We found plenty of rusted pipes, and some bones:

We headed down and met up with the rest of the group, and went on to check out the old Allison Mine trail that connects with the Heaton Flat trail.

At this point, not many pictures were taken as it started raining, and we were running into more wet brush that made us nice and soaked. Regardless, this trail was not in terrible shape either. It has more brush and more parts partially washed out than the trail up from Allison gulch, but it is certainly passable. Yuccas have been trimmed, so what else do you need? I suppose we are getting relatively desensitized to a little brush. I’d say this trail was less annoying than the ridge up to Monrovia Peak.

This trail did seem to take a while, but finally we connected up at Coldwater Saddle, and took the Heaton Flat trail back down. We got back at 4:45, practically 8 hrs from our start!

This is a great hike, and one that I suggest anyone to try if they are not afraid of a little brush.

Related posts:

Attack of the Cholla - Ascent of Villager & Rabbit Peaks
Sugarloaf, Ontario, & Bighorn Peaks via Falling Rock Canyon
Etiwanda, Cucamonga, Bighorn, & Ontario Peaks

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This entry was posted on Monday, January 26th, 2009 at 3:08 pm and is filed under Trail Information, Trip Report. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

20 Responses to “East Fork to Allison Gulch, Allison Mine, & Heaton Flat Trail”


George February 25th, 2009 at 4:29 pm

Your Allison Mine route was a nice surprise. I cleared the trail from the Heaton Flat trail to the mine (a lot more work than just clipping yuccas), but heard the trail from the other side had disappeared. The route I once used from Allison Gulch below the waterfall had also disappeared, apparently deliberately destroyed. There was trail construction like you mentioned, but for a lower trail, unknown to the Forest Service. I recently learned about the route from the Gulch you folks used, so it’s great to hear that still works. You can also continue directly up to the west ridge with just a short brush barrier, then a fine route to Iron Mtn. peak. I’m looking forward to doing it this year.


February 25th, 2009 at 8:56 pm

Hi George,

Thanks for the comment. Boy am I glad you did some maintenance of the old Allison Mine trail! It was certainly in better condition than I expected. As for the route up the gulch, it was in even better condition.

Interesting that there was a trail around the falls, I’ve only heard of people canyoneering down that way.

I am highly interested in checking out if anything is left of the old trail headed toward Stanley Miller Mine. When you speak of the west ridge route, do you mean the southwest ridge (close to Allison Mine trail) or the real west ridge further away?

SocalHikes.com - Southern California Hike Reports and Trail Information » Blog Archive » Getting to Baldora (Widco) Mine

SocalHikes.com - Southern California Hike Reports and Trail Information » Blog Archive » Getting to Baldora (Widco) Mine March 4th, 2009 at 1:01 pm

[...] marker on the bottom left, “E”, indicates Allison Mine, which we had an extremely successful and fun journey up to in January. Stanley Miller mine “F” certainly has my attention, but being so far from a trailhead I [...]

Marty July 15th, 2009 at 8:37 am

Thanks for posting this detail route information. I tried this trail a few years back but got lost at the steep climb. Hoping to try it again soon.

SocalHikes.com – Southern California Hike Reports and Trail Information » Blog Archive » East Fork to Stanley-Miller Mine

SocalHikes.com – Southern California Hike Reports and Trail Information » Blog Archive » East Fork to Stanley-Miller Mine August 16th, 2009 at 9:32 am

[...] was part 3 out of 4 in the hiking series “Mines of Iron Mountain”. #1 was Allison Mine, and #2 was Baldora and Widco Mines. I expected this one to be harder than the first two, but even [...]

richard farber

richard farber March 14th, 2010 at 8:51 pm

We’ve been hiking to Stanley Miller Mine every year the last four yrs. You leave Hobo Miner Dave’s place on the east Fork River and head up the ridge keeping just Southeast of the big gully. Eventually you reach the old .25 mile cable coming down from the miner’s hut. The hut is to the left and the mine 200 yards to the right.
We’ve opened up the trail to Coldwater Canyon between the Heaton Flat Saddle–4800′–and the Coldwater Canyon Creek. Then it’s a .5 hour hike–some use trail left–to Widco/Baldera Mine.
richard farber


March 18th, 2010 at 4:43 pm

Hi Richard,

I wish I knew that info last summer! We attempted to get to Stanley-Miller mine in August (via the old “trail” up from iron fork). that TR is on here too, but in short we made it to the chimney but actually missed the mine. I have to go back soon.

As for Baldora/ Widco, we did make it there a year ago (TR on here as well). The trail down to Coldwater was brushy but not too bad (except for the severely 15 ft washed out section).

Have you been to Gold dollar & Eagle? I’m planning a long trip out to those two sometime soon as well.


Mike April 13th, 2011 at 8:30 am

Do you happen to know the current condition of the trails? we are headed to the mine saturday and I am just curious if you had any updated info. Your report is the most current I can find! Thanks


April 15th, 2011 at 6:08 am

Mike you could search in this forum, for instance: http://sangabrielmnts.myfreeforum.org/about3574.html&highlight=allison

This is talking about the trail out of allison gulch – you may also be thinking about the trail from Heaton Saddle. Generally the trail out of the gulch is better than the heaton saddle trail – but also the water is high and fast flowing now so it may be more difficult getting to and up Allison gulch.


Mike April 15th, 2011 at 1:38 pm

Thanks Ze, I hike the River alot but never had taken the trek up the gulch. My only question is this, where did you find the turnoff for the mine? Or will you eventually run into ? Thanks for your tiume and help!


Mike April 15th, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Via the gulch route. sorry I wasnt specific. I plan on taking it in and out


mike April 15th, 2011 at 5:52 pm

Ze, Thanks for the info. I know the canyon very well and was actually there last week and the water level was pretty intense, but still manageable. I know every section of the river from the lot to the bridge, but now I am trying to get out and tour all the mines starting with the allison ( already been in heaton and the horseshoe). Anyways, my question is this, will the gulch lead me directly to the mine or is there a point where I will have to turn off and venture outwards? If so, how will I know when to leave the gulch? I have searched all the tr’s and yours is the most recent, which is why I am asing you all these ?’s haha. Thanks again and happy trails!


April 18th, 2011 at 12:45 pm

you have to veer out of the gulch on the left (north) side when you see a trail switchback out of the canyon. may be hard to see. you can take a look at the map above (switch to topo map too to see what elevation it happens at). It’s hard for me to recall any good landmark to indicate where the trail starts up out of the gulch. if you get to the waterfalls, you’ve gone too far.

once you get on the trail, you just follow it up, then it contours east into the gulch. the mine is just off the trail


Mike April 19th, 2011 at 10:55 am

Got it. Thanks for the info and link to the forum. Heading out soon. happy trails!

Mark the Shark

Mark the Shark November 25th, 2012 at 3:55 pm

My dad and I visited the Allison Mine during the Summer. Both routs were passable (the yucca were trimmed, but I recommend bringing some gardening scissors just in case). I found the route up the gulch to be much easier and even pleasant.

There is water at the mine, but if you’re going to use the Heaton Flats trail, I recommend that you bring LOTS and LOTS of water. Our first attempt was along the Heaton Flats with a gallon of water each and we nearly succumbed to heat exhaustion. Maybe I just sweat too much, but one gallon is not enough for me to make that trip in the summer heat.

jason p

jason p January 17th, 2013 at 6:47 pm

wanting to explore allison mine with my medal detector. usnally go up on sundays. anyone wanna go?


steven May 20th, 2013 at 1:00 pm

hey jason how do you get up to the mine??

Don Gras

Don Gras April 4th, 2017 at 2:12 pm

Nice article. I am the great-grandson of John James Allison who discovered the gold. My mother has the letter he sent to my great-grandmother telling her the gold discovery and how he would travel to Los Angeles to assemble the family for mining the claim. My grandfather, George Dewey Allison, worked the mine. They lost the gold vein due to a fault and never found it again.
Two weeks before my grandfather died, he told me the source of the gold in the San Gabriel River has never been found. He was thinking of that until the end. (I have two gold pans that were his)
Thanks again.

Don Gras

Don Gras April 4th, 2017 at 2:18 pm

Nice article. I am the great-grandson of John James Allison who discovered the gold and developed the mine with his family.


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