Getting Ready to Hike

Just You:

If it’s just you and a friend or two, getting ready to hike into Camp is pretty straight forward: go hiking. Hiking is basically walking, that is, it’s not a technical skill (unless you’re under two years old.) The key is to add time, some uphill, and then some weight.

  • Going uphill will use muscles that will get tired, even sore. But a little rest, fluids and aspirin will solve that. What is actually harder on the body—and takes longer to recover from—is coming downhill, because of the impact on joints. The only way to lessen the impact (literally!) is to begin adapting to that by hiking up and then down some hills.
  • The best way to make the hike a rewarding experience is to put time into conditioning before the hike; that way you’ll be able to see and appreciate the your time in the canyon in much greater depth and detail.

For Groups:

If you’re the leader of a group coming to Camp, you know that the ability to hike is probably “mixed” all across the group. Be assured that people of all kinds people have been making the hike over many years: there have been blisters and strains and even some tears, but everybody makes it, and in the end, everyone remembers it as a very special experience.

  • The same things listed above that help one person get ready, helps everyone get ready. Doing some short local hikes together is also effective in building up expectations and beginning to form a sense of shared commitment and community.
  • It is also the best way to develop reliable group behavior on the trail—sticking together, etc. as well as making sure people know what to bring (water, sunscreen, etc.)

On the actual hike, the key is planning & pacing:

A big part of managing the group experience so that it is safe and positive is setting appropriate expectations; that includes painting a picture for everyone of what they’ll do, based on the following details;

  • Decide who leads, and who will ‘sweep’ the trail, making sure no one is left behind, and how they will check in with one another.
  • Decide how and when the group will pause to check-in and see how everyone is doing, take a group photo, where the public latrines are, and when the group will have a full rest-stop and/or snack/lunch stop.
  • These two together are how to manage the pace: the leaders must be attentive to how everyone is doing and adjust the pace accordingly.
  • A snack and water along the way insure the group can finish strong; be aware that the second hour is more steep, and people are likely to feel the urge to rush to finish, when it will be much better to slow down for the steepness.

Personal Packing

The four mile trail to Camp defines what you need to bring: only as much as you want to carry! Or, click here for information on having gear packed into Camp.

The Sturtevant experience is simple enough that you only need to bring the basics. Think in terms of what you would take in a carry-on bag for an airplane flight: a change of clothes and travel toiletries—plus a towel and sleeping gear. Specifically:

Shoes: the trails of the San Gabriels are rocky, and you will be hiking for about two hours, plus getting around in Camp. So shoes that are both sturdy and fit well to your comfort are very important: good socks can make the difference! Ideally, you will do some hiking before your trip to discover what works best for you.

On the trail:

  • Always carry water with you on the trail (do not drink from the stream.)
  • Trail snacks keep your energy up for the hike.
  • Many people find a hiking stick really useful, especially in winter when stream crossings require some careful footwork.

Clothing in general:

  • For one or two night’s stay, the fresh clothing you want for sure is underwear; everything else can do repeat duty!
  • Fabrics: in general, cotton is not the best for hiking and being in Camp. Breathable synthetics are best, especially in cooler weather (or wool that insulates even when wet.)
  • In all seasons, think on terms of layers and clothing that can be combined and do double-duty, depending on the time of day and level of activity.


  • The Camp’s elevation at about 3,500 feet means the temperature is consistently 10-15 degrees cooler than downtown Los Angeles. From late October through mid-May, you’ll want a good sweater plus any kind of light, windbreaker jacket for early mornings and evenings. For those who tend to feel cold, a hat is the best remedy; truly cold weather might be worth gloves.
  • From late May through early October, think in terms of sun and heat; a light hat, sunscreen, and bug spray are strongly recommended. A swimsuit for dipping in the stream can be a bonus!
  • If it might really rain: southern California winter weather is highly variable; in the winter, you would bring a light jacket anyway (ideally at least water repellant—this is likely to be enough, especially because what is most common in the canyon is a drizzly fog.) But the thrifty backpacker’s trick is to put a large garbage bag in the bottom of your pack; if it really rains, poke two armholes in the corners, and one in the middle and pull it over your head—voila! Not glamorous, but it works. Add any kind of hat.

In Camp:

  • The cabins are heated with bunks, blankets and pillows.
  • Bring your own pillowcase, and~
  • Many people bring a sleeping bag; but you can bring a double sheet and fold it over like a burrito on the single bunks and add a blanket.
  • (If you have reserved one of the double-beds, these come with their own sheets.*)
  • Bring a towel and washcloth to go with your shower (add a small plastic bag for packing out damp and dirty clothes.)
  • Travel-size toiletries will be enough for 1-2 nights.
  • Please note the battery-based electrical system cannot support hair driers.
  • Bring a flashlight for after hours use.
  • Remember your camera!
  • For many reasons, a bandana-handkerchief always comes in handy.

*Full linen service pending.

Forgot something crucial? Check with the manager.

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