Bridge to Nowhere is a roughly 10 mile long hike with at times serious exposure to the sun. It is a notable hike in that even with its length the trail is mostly flat, and contains a number of water crossings. Due to the current drought conditions the water crossings are non-technical, only requiring wading in water that is knee-or-less-deep.
DANGER! As water levels increase these water crossings become increasingly more dangerous. Water can be waist level or deeper. Do not enter the water if you have any doubts about it!
Getting to the Trailhead
The trailhead is fairly easy to get to, only requiring a couple of turns (although if you get lost, you get very lost). Take Highway 39 North from Azusa up Azusa Canyon. Keep going on the road until you see a large bridge going over the OHV (Off Highway Vehicle) area on the right in the canyon below. Turn right crossing the bridge, you are now on East Fork Road. Keep driving on the East Fork road for 5.2 Miles where the road makes a U, follow the road to the left and continue straight onto Camp Bonita Road. The road ends at the trailhead parking lot.
Starting the Hike
There is a gated fire road across the parking lot from the bathrooms, the trail really starts at the bottom of this fireroad, where you will find a second bathroom, a permit station, and some information panels (and maps). Start out by heading down there and get a permit. Permits are required and free, although I’ve never seen a ranger in this area.
Follow the trail along the campground until you are about to run into the river and then hang a right, you should see another gate and a box for anglers to put cards into. From here on out the trail is pretty much beautiful single track. Soak in the beauty, because you are only a few minutes from the first water crossing.
I personally call Bridge to Nowhere the choose your own trail (kind of like the choose your own adventure books that were popular back in the 1990s). Basically, don’t climb up the canyon walls and try to keep track of the river. Follow those two rules and it should be really hard to get lost. The trail is very well-traveled, there are only a few of places where it might be a bit hard to locate.
Watch out as there is a lot of gold panning activity going on. Especially watch out if you are going off trail, since some of those guys like to dig really deep holes which, if you aren’t paying attention, can kind of jump out at you. Eventually you will end up in a section of trail where you are walking directly on a fairly wide riverbed strewn with boulders.
Keep an eye out on the right bank, as you should start seeing the trail which eventually starts climbing (somewhat steeply) in order get out of the canyon and up to the elevation of the bridge. If you want to continue off-trail, you can follow the river all of the way up to, and then under the bridge (I haven’t personally done that yet though). Know that the canyon narrows significantly coming up to the bridge, so the water may be deeper and faster making a crossing under the bridge dangerous or impossible. Due to the walls being steep, it is impossible to climb the canyon walls immediately downstream of the bridge without proper equipment and training.
Here is the Map and Elevation profile of the hike (along with GPX download):
Thanks to Diana Rodriguez for editing this post!