Canyon Quick Links
GREAT FALLS OF THE FOX
"A one hour hike in and possible swimming conditions depending on the hike in."
WCCM Class: 3AIIIR
120′ rope, 100′ rope, several short ropes in the 50-70′ range, 50′ webbing, 4-5 quicklinks, GPS/topo map/compass, headlamp, water filter,
Fall/winter/spring and the cooler weather would be better for the hike in, summer and the hotter weather would be better for the technical section where there can be cold pools you may have to swim through. Early-late spring generally has the heaviest flow in this canyon. Fox Creek flows year-round but is a trickle in the summer. Avoid this canyon during rain or expected rain.
The trail-head is the same gate/fire-road as for the Fall Creek/Classic Canyon hike. The GPS for this location as 34 17.82′N, 118 10.20′W. (UTM 3795450N, 392310E) I would recommend a car shuttle which will save substantial time and energy, and this Beta is based upon that. Park the 2nd vehicle at the start of the “Big Tujunga Canyon Trail” (UTM: 3795500N, 391900E This is the trail that is used when exiting the nearby Josephine Creek canyon trip) which is approx 1/2 mile to the west of the above gate. Traveling “up” Big Tujunga Road (From Sunland/Tujunga) to the N-NE, as you pass by the Big Tujunga Reservoir (in this case on the left hand side) there is a paved U-shaped lot which is the scenic overlook for the Big TJ Reservoir, followed immediately by a very large gravel lot; maybe 1,000 feet past this lot, right before the road starts to turn to the south (right), there is a gravel shoulder parking area on the left hand side, park here. This is where you will EXIT, trail comes out right at the small hill you are parked in front of, on the west side)
Route finding, off-trail bushwhacking with some fall exposure, possible multiple swims in-canyon and on the egress through Big TJ reservoir, several rappels can be tricky in high water flow.
Poison Oak, rattlesnakes, rock fall in-canyon, flash flood danger.
Expected Time Commitment
Reccommended Time of Year
Non Technical Obstacles
Hike the fire road down to and cross Big Tujunga Creek. (about 1 hour) This is your last reliable source of water until you reach Fox Creek, so filter some if need be. Find the fire road again by looking to the NE and follow it uphill heading to the west/NW. After about 1 hour on the fire road you have a view (left/west) of the”Great Fall”, which is about 100′ tall. (34 18.927 N, 118 10.276 W, UTM: 3797400N 392300E) From this point you will begin the off-trail section of the approach. Take a few minutes at this point to size up the terrain to the west of the road. The easiest approach is heading due west from where you are standing. From the fire road you will go downhill, than back uphill to a fairly level bench, don’t gain any more elevation than this bench. Walk across it to the west, then onto the steep hillside. Drop into the first gully once you get over the ridge. The general location where you want to drop into the canyon is UTM: 3797400N 391680E. This first gully is primarily loose rock and scree, but can be down-climbed all the way to Fox Creek. Plan on about 3-3.5 hours to get from the trail-head to Fox Creek. The first rappel is about 20 minutes down canyon.
There has historically been issues with getting the rope stuck on the 100′ Great Fall when using the bolts canyon right. My suggestion is to extend the webbing all the way to the waterfall pour-over. Or better yet–use the new bolts on canyon left which solve the stuck rope issue and are a much more scenic place to rappel from. Getting to them in high flow will be dicey if not impossible. Belay the first person to the bolts if in the canyon during high flow. The view looking down-canyon while on this rappel is one of the best in any So-Cal canyon, take a moment to take it all in. From the drop-in point at Fox creek to the last rappel at the Big Tujunga Reservoir, figure about 4-5 hours depending on group size. Currently (Jan 2013) in much of the canyon there is flash flood debris. Lots of downed trees and piles of brush to navigate around, this will slow you down. There are several possible swims at the base of waterfalls in this canyon, although nothing deeper than 3-4′ currently. The technical section of this canyon is quite spectacular, definitely one of the most scenic in Southern California.
Rap 1: 15′–tree in canyon center. This may be down-climbable for many people. Current conditions make it easier to rappel
Rap 2: 40′–rock pinch point canyon center. Several other rocks in the general vicinity if you’re not comfortable with this anchor or want to back it up
Rap 3: 15′–slung rock canyon left
Rap 4: 35′–new bolts canyon right
Rap 5: 10′–bolts canyon left
Rap 6: 100′–bolts canyon right and left. As noted above, many stuck rope issues using the right side bolts, extend the webbing if you use them. Left bolts are new and solve the rope pull issue, but use caution when getting to them, especially in high flow
Rap 7: 20′–bolts canyon right
Rap 8: [60']–bolts canyon right. It’s a tricky start to this one, rap 6-8′ into a narrow chute, then 20′ horizontal/level walk in the chute to the pour-over, 30′ low angle rap to the bottom. Rope pull on this one can be problematic as well, use care to not tangle the ropes as the last person raps down. I like to run the pull side through a small bush at the pour-over canyon left to keep it up and out of the chute.
**From the bottom of rap 8 to the final rap, #9, it is about an hour hike. This hike is mostly level but with lots of downed trees/rocks/flash flood debris to contend with.
Rap 9: 70′–tree canyon center.
[NOTE: The reservoir level can fluctuate a great deal in the course of a year. In early-late spring it may be a long swim on the egress if reservoir levels are up. I would recommend scouting the reservoir level before you attempt the descent of this canyon. This can be checked most easily from the Big Tujunga Canyon Trail, just a short distance from the road. And since your already out there scouting, hike the Big TJ trail to the bottom and orientate yourself to the area; finding this trail in the dark is nearly impossible, a bit tricky the first time to find even in the light] From the bottom of the last rappel it is a 10 minute hike to Big Tujunga Creek where you turn left (east). The intersection of Fox Creek and Big TJ Creek has a GPS of 34 18.091 N, 118 10.598 W, UTM: 379590N 391780E. Proceed east up Big TJ Creek for about 10 minutes (1/4 mile). At this point the canyon opens back up, but to stay to the right hand side (west) as you travel for a short distance to the south. Note the power lines running north to south across the canyon. The closest set of lines (not the ones with the big balls on them) will lead you right to Big TJ Trail. If you stayed on the right side of the canyon look up for the lines, (Trail starts directly under them) look to the south for a group of 10-12, 60-80′ foot dead trees, the trail starts here. (This is the end of Josephine Canyon) You will see a clear rock slide zone, (3′wide?) and about 30′ feet up you’ll see a terraced slope with green vegetation, this is the trail. From this point to your shuttle vehicle the trail takes about 30 minutes to ascend. The first 100 feet or so is very steep, but then the trail becomes obvious and is maintained and easy to find and hike. It does make 1 fork to the east (which leads to the last waterfall in Josephine Canyon), make sure you don’t take this fork to the left (south).