Horse Flats is closed indefinitely due to weather-related road damage. Due to crews working inside the campground, we ask that you drive past the Horse Flat Campground entrance an additional 3/4 miles north on Santa Clara Divide Road (FS3N17) to Rosenita Saddle Trailhead. Park your vehicle at the trailhead on the left. From there it's an easy 1 mile hike to the top of Mt. Hillyer.
At a Glance:
5,000' elevation 26 campsites There is currently no piped water available at Horse Flat Campground. Please bring enough water for cooking, cleaning, drinking, and extinguishing campfires. Equestrian facilities include 4 corrals, hitching rails $12 per night per site. Campsites are on a first-come, first-served basis. No reserving or holding of campsites allowed. Checkout/Change of day is at 11 am. Maximum RV length 20 feet - No Hookups What to Expect
Horse Flats Campground offers 26 campsites with plentiful shade options at a lofty 5000-foot elevation. It also has accessible hiking opportunities such as the Silver Moccasin National Recreation Trail, some excellent areas for mountain bikers, and, as the name implies, equestrian resources that include with four corrals and several more hitching posts.
It is an easy 90-minute drive from downtown Los Angeles up Angeles Crest Highway (HWY 2) to inhale crisp mountain air scented with Jeffrey Pines and Mountain Mahogany. Mt Hillyer's silhouette and various wildlife make for an excellent backdrop for a day hike. With it being only 18 miles as the crow flies from downtown, it makes for a quick easy getaway from the summer heat.
We come to this campground throughout the year, and its one of our favorite spots for summer camping when we're short on time. It's an hours drive from LA and because the campground is at elevation it stays cooler during the hot months. This is my third review for this campground, and one thing I will say that I've noticed over time is that as the popularity of the campground has increased, so has the noise. We've been kept awake by other campsites on three different occasions now. Part of the issue is that rangers aren't regularly monitoring in order to enforce the quiet hours. We usually only see rangers come around in the morning. With that said, we still like Horse Flats because there is usually a spot or two open if we arrive on a Saturday. Also, the sites are relatively well spread out compared to other SoCal camping options. And it's dog friendly, which is a must for us.
Things to know before coming
- bring all your water with you. There is no running water at this campground
- purchase firewood before driving up the mountain. I've unfortunately seen too many campers collecting wood around the campground to use for fires. Don't do it! Different woods burn differently and also carry differently in smoke, and the Angeles National Forest is often at elevated fire danger levels
- the drive from the base of the mountain to this campground is about 45 minutes. make sure you have enough gas and have a map / driving directions ready, because there is no cell phone service
Things to do nearby
- bouldering, just a short hike away. See more info on routes here
- hike the Pacific Crest Trail to historic Glenwood Cabin. Here is the route I mapped out if you want to pick up the trail near Bandido campground. And here is more info on the cabin
- take a scenic chair lift and play disc golf at Mt Waterman, a 10 minute drive away. More info here
- Hike Rosenita Saddle to Mt Hillyer, see route here
As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get to test products to review for some of my camping trips. On this trip, we tested out two meals from Mountain House. (See my review of other meal options in my Meander Lake campground review). After cooking these pre-made camping meals, I may never go back! On this trip we had the Noodle with Chicken for dinner and Granola with Milk and Blueberries for breakfast. They were seriously DELICIOUS. Better than anything I can cook with my backcountry kitchen set-up. Here's what I love about these meals:
- super great taste
- quick to make. These meals are ready in 10 minutes or less, some are ready as soon as you add water. After a long day of climbing or hiking, or when you're waking up in the morning, it's so nice to have food ready so quickly
- easy to make. Just add water (boiling, usually). This also means that all we need to pack is a Jetboil, which is so much more convenient than packing a stove, pots, cooking oil, ingredients, cutting boards, etc.
- lightweight, and you can choose among packaging options for more compactness
All in all, I'd say these meals are a game changer for short trips or backcountry camping , when you want to pack minimally. If you're doing a week of camping with easy access to your car, then these meals aren't necessarily your cheapest option for the whole week, but it's totally worth the money in terms of taste and convenience (so you can spend more time on other outdoor activities!).
There are only two things I'd like to see change to further improve Mountain House meals. First, there are no vegan options, and very few vegetarian options. Second, I find the serving amounts to be unhelpful in their current format, because the calories per serving are so low. For example, with the Noodle with Chicken, the pouch says "2.5 services", but there are only 220 calories per serving. If this were your sole meal item for dinner, I'd say that more like 1 serving, especially if you're consuming these meals after a day of rock climbing or hiking. So if I meal plan with Mountain House pouches, you have to calculate servings based on the calories, rendering the "servings" as advertised uninformative.
Horse Flats is a popular campground deep in Angeles National Forest.
There are a bunch of sites (more than 20) and there are vault toilets, fire pits, and picnic tables.
$12 fee per site, not sure how many cars that means but you might need the adventure pass if you have a lot of other cars parking overnight.
It's a great escape from the city, about an hour from DTLA. Popular with climbers as there's bouldering in the area.
Know before you go - it's closed from November-ish to April-ish - so check the forest website before you head out there.
When driving there, you take a left off the 2 and it's a little past Bandido Group site. Some people have a hard time finding it their first time going.
We camped here this weekend, which is the latest we’ve gone before the winter months. This past week had record high temperatures for all of Southern California, so I can’t say how representative our experience was compared to typically late fall trips in other years. The temperature was warm during the day, but we definitely brought layers and adequate sleeping gear for the night. Even though it was 79 degrees in the day, temperature got down to 54 at night. We were surprised to find the campground sites mostly claimed. Probably 75% full by Saturday afternoon. Again, this experience might be an anomaly due to the warmer weather
Nice place to stay for climbing - there is mostly bouldering in the area, with some trad stuff. Plenty of sites!
Disregard the "closed for the season" post in the name - this campground is open.
There are a few campgrounds in this area of the Angeles National Forest. Horse Flats is not as popular as Buckhorn, and is a little less "green" with regards to the immediate scenery. It is also quieter for this reason, which is nice. The individual sites are large and spread out from each other, so it is easy to have some privacy. Make sure to get food and firewood before you start the drive up the mountain, as there is no place to purchase such supplies near the camps.