The Angeles National Forest is a sprawling 700,000 acres of forest, trails, and historic landmarks acting as the backyard of the Los Angeles metropolitan area. The Mountains and valleys range 1,200 to 10,064 feet and are host to numerous different ecosystems.
History of the Angeles Forest
While the forest plays host to archeological evidence of human habitation as far back as 10,000 years, we are particularly struck by the Angeles Forest’s own gold rush:
Even before Sutter’s Mill, gold was discovered in Placerita Canyon, in 1842. This was the first authenticated discovery of gold in California. As soon as California joined the United States in 1848, the southern California mountains became flooded with American miners out to strike it rich, even as the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill the same year competed for miner’s attention.
Gold bearing quartz veins were dispersed throughout the mountains. Large placer and lode mining operations were established in the mountains. Yet, by 1896 many of these operations were inactive. And most had concluded by the late 1930s.
Becoming a Preserve
Despite a history of use as grazing, timber, mining, homesteading, and resort land, the San Gabriel mountains came under Federal ownership in 1892. A precursor to the Angeles Nation Forest, the San Gabriel Timberland Reserve was established by President Harrison’s Executive Order in December of that year. It was initially established for its watershed value. Timber activity in the mountains has been recorded as early as 1819. As the forests were cut down for timber, flooding had become an increasing problem for the metropolitan area below. In 1905, the reserve was renamed The San Gabriel National Forest and placed under the Department of Agriculture. Finally, in 1908, the forest was renamed the Angeles National Forest.