Are you from the LA area? Did you go to Barton Flats when you were a kid? Or with your kids? Most of you did- and for good reason. Its a beautiful and very accessible place that offers lots of activities suited for anyone.
When I worked at High Trails Outdoor Science School, I lived right next to Barton Flats. I always knew it was summer when I’d hike along the ridge at sunset and see all the campfires burning below. After moving to Redlands, we’d still go up to Barton Flats if we needed a quick overnighter or a hike. The Santa Ana River Trail hugs the campground and goes down into the valley, and Jenks Lake is just across the highway if you like to fish or canoe. You can also easily get to the South Fork Trailhead if you’re interested in a long and gorgeous hike up to the top of San Gorgonio Mountain- the highest peak in Southern California. There are ranger programs during the summertime at the adjacent Greyback Amphitheater. I saw one on astronomy and we got to look at Jupiter’s moons through a powerful telescope and watched the MIR Space Station fly by.
My favorite time to visit Barton Flats starts now (after Labor Day), when the crowds go away. The weather is a perfect 70-80 degrees in the daytime, while we’re usually stuck with a hot Indian Summer down at sea level. The Barton Flats Campground usually stays open until around Thanksgiving, so you can enjoy the entire transition from summer to winter up there. The black oaks are probably already starting to think about brightening their leaves to a Halloween orange along the hiking trails, and if you’re lucky, there’s a small u-pick apple farm nearby that will likely open soon. Its difficult to spot even when they put their “Open” sign out on Highway 38. Don’t forget to make some Caramel Apple Dip before your trip so you can enjoy fresh picked apples in your campsite if you find them.
I hope you’re enjoying the last bit of summer. Now’s about when I get over it and wish fall would just come already, but this year I cut my hair short and painted my nails red, and I’m going to make the most of it by playing outdoors while there’s still warmth and light.
Barton Flats Campground
LocationAngelus Oaks, CA
Activity GuideCar Camping, Fishing, Hiking, Peak Bagging, Rock Climbing, Canoeing, Mountain Biking, Stargazing
Barton Flats is an accessible campground right off of Highway 38 on the way to Big Bear from the LA area. It is great for families who want to get to the mountains without having to drive too far, and gives you a good sense of your local natural areas.
- Flush Toilets
- RV Hookups
- Dump Station
- Tent Campsites
- Fire rings
- Picnic Tables
- Hiking/Biking Trails
- Nearby lake
- Visit after Labor Day to avoid summer crowds and experience a beautiful transition to Autumn.
- There is occasionally a you-pick apple orchard open in the fall on the way up Highway 38 from Redlands. Its on the left hand side of the road near the Glass Road turnoff, and they put a sign out at the turn when they are open. Good luck. I’ve only succeeded twice.
- The Santa Ana River is a beautiful hiking destination and can be accessed several times along the trails in the area. Pack a lunch and eat with your feet in the water (but please practice Leave No Trace ethics).