I listed this place ‘second’ because this is where I first learned everything, so I have fond memories mining in this canyon. I got my first flake here, my first nugget, here, my first dredging experience here, etc. I used to go every weekend and even during the week for a number of years here! This is one of the best rivers to go to in Southern California to find color and gain experience (But I also like the Kern River). There was a gold rush here and good gold was pulled out during the 1800’s. It was also mined here during the Great Depression.

It’s not far from sunny Los Angeles, California in the San Gabriel Mountain Range, the San Gabriel River has yielded a significant amount of placer gold, including some good sized nuggets.  The San Gabriel Mountains are located in a part of the Transverse Range geologic province of Southern California, just a short drive north of one of the largest metropolitan areas in the United States.  Because of its easy and convenient access, this location has become a very popular spot for local prospectors - and much of the placer area is designated for recreation and anyone is welcome dip their gold pan in the water and prospect here for free.

Placer gold was discovered in the San Gabriel range in the 1840s in the area has had several productive periods since that time (Actually, in the canyon, there are reports of the Spanish Conquistadors working this area before that period and there’s even reports of mining before them!) .  Nuggets and flakes of placer gold have been obtained from both the stream gravels as well as older terrace bench gravels above the river (even 100’ and higher!). Some good sized nuggets more than an ounce in size have been produced from these deposits, but fines and  flakes are much more common. The bench gravels were mined by hydraulic mining as well as tunneling along the bedrock. While a number of streams in the region west of Mt. San Antonio (also known as Mount Baldy) have been productive, the East Fork of the San Gabriel River has produced most placer gold.

In 1874, it was reported that more than $2 million in gold had been produced from this area (but it could have easily been much more).  In addition to the productive placer deposits, there are also several hard rock mines located in this area.  Lode gold mining was most productive during the period from 1903 to 1908, however there was some activity again in the 1930s during the Depression.  The estimated total output of the lode mines here is about 50,000 ounces.

The gold quartz veins occur in schist and gneiss, both of which are metamorphic rocks. While the values are spotty, the ore deposits are rich in places.  The veins are usually less than 3 feet thick and do not extend to any great depth.  The oxidized zones near the surface yielded the richest ore. The erosion of the veins in these hard rock deposits are the source of the placer gold nuggets found in the gravels.

East Fork Road, located in the San Gabriel Mountains above the city of Azusa, California, is a road that gives access from State Route 39 into East Fork and other small townships. Along East Fork Road there are extensive fire fighting facilities which are staged to combat the many fires that break out among the foothills above Azusa, Glendora, and San Dimas every year.

The road begins at Route 39, passing over the San Gabriel River, and follows the East Fork of the river, crossing a number of small streams. The terminus is Heaton Flat, which has a campsite, a ranger station, and trails that lead upstream and to the summit of Iron Mountain, 6,000 feet (1,800 m) above.

Popular gold panning sites can be reached from the road. The road passes the site of "Eldoradoville" (near the white bridge - “Cattle Cyn” area), a mining town with three stores and six saloons that was established in 1859 and washed away in a flood on January 18, 1862.

East Fork Road was initially planned as an outlet from the Los Angeles Area to State Route 2, and includes a "Bridge to Nowhere" that was abandoned after a flood; a later plan included two never-used tunnels on the aborted Shoemaker Canyon Road.[3]

In January 2005 a flood washed out two bridges which stranded 200 campers and residents for days

El Doradoville: The City of Gold

During 1854, when gold was discovered in the San Gabriel Canyon, a town named El Doradoville was built at the fork of the San Gabriel to take care of some 2,000 miners who had filed on gold claims along the east fork of the canyon. During the next 20 years, it is estimated that $12 million in gold was mined and shipped to various mints throughout the United States. The town of El Doradoville was destroyed by flood waters in 1861 and 1862.



Bernie McGrath, unofficial Mayor of the East Fork!

My friend Luis’ gold from the East Fork

Cool older pics

Arlene and Roy relaxing after digging

Good gold from this spot sluicing!

Keene Engineering Outing - cleaning up the gold after the BBQ!

Old miner Bernie showing off his gold

Carlos and me getting that gold!

“Bronco Dave” dredging up the gold!

Long time miner and resident of the area Bernie McGrath! Unofficially the “Mayor” of the East Fork!  :)

Walter and Ivan having fun!

Sampling the area! Look at those tree roots! I found gold in this area - I took the material down to the river to pan

Here’s another great spot! - I used to get almost a gram sluicing here! It was not more than 3 or 4 inches down! It’s pretty much worked out by us now though. Other people got in this spot. (Butte Creek Dave originally discovered it)

Tom, his friend, me and Sparky

My dredge

My friends dredges

Good gold from dredging the East Fork! This is the result of about 4 hours of dredging. (I used to use a green pan, but now I rather use blue or black)

Some of the nuggets I got from dredging, detecting, etc

Fun in the sun sluicing!

Got it made in the shade!

Sisters Romie and Monique

My friend Tommy brought some of the youth group from church to the river. They first started off with a Bible study and then I taught them about panning, dredging, and sluicing. (I’m the one with the wet suit)

My customer ‘Luis’ here at the store (and now my prospecting friend) showing off his gold! He’s getting pretty good for not at this hobby long yet!

Long time friend ‘Carlos’ here at this shop showing off the gold he just got! (A couple hours of sluicing) - He always gets up to the East Fork late! Lol!


Beautiful East Fork San Gabriel River

Pics of Luis’ friends gold up at the East Fork

East Fork gold!

Some nice nuggets have been dug from under this big rock, I got 5 myself!

Camp area

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The famous ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ (about a 5 miles hike)

Some more gold pics Luis sent

Luis’ friend sniping - he got some nice gold from here!

Some of my gold from dredging, sluicing, etc. :) Thank you Jesus!

My friend Tim and I at the East Fork

Tommy having fun!

Tommy again

Nice nug’s I got up past the Narrows, found with a whites GMT metal detector

A good day sluicing up on the East Fork

Jeff and I setting up

There was about 30 people digging into the bank for gold that day!

The gold I got that day! - (My friend Kent let us work his hole)

Luis showing off a nugget he got with his new Whites GMT Detector

Luis got nice pics of some old mining equipment, mine hole, etc

East Fork (past the Narrows)

Fellow miner friends I met that day, digging along the gravel bank

Some of my nugs (Metal detecting)

My first nugget dredging

My second nugget dredging

Carlos ‘backpacking’ one of his kids across the fast flowing river

The White Bridge at Cattle Canyon (across from the site of old Eldoradoville town)

John smiling!

This area here is the site of the old Eldoradoville

More gold from the East Fork that my customers are showing off!

Cool male & female frogs (We let them go later)

Johnny and Pat Keene at Keene Eng/GPAA Outing




Email: crazyforgold007@yahoo.com








Bridge to nowhere


Hiking pt2

Almost there

At the Narrows!

Digging under big boulder

Detecting under big boulder

Found gold!

More digging big rock

Trench along big rock


Close up of gold I found

* Interesting videos of hiking up past the Narrows to a spot where I got some really nice nuggets in one spot! (Sorry for the video quality)

Poor racoon got killed


The gravel bank!

Good gold!

Good day sluicing!

Our spot!

More good gold!


Gold in the sluice!

Found little nugget!

* Cool  short clips of getting nice gold from a large gravel bank! (Again, sorry for the video quality)


Luis’ customers he took on ‘gold’ charter for their first time gold prospecting - got a nice little nugget that day!

Big Horn Sheep

Click here for video of Bernie

Bernie’s nugget

Old Time Prospector


Me, relaxing


Thomas and me

Luis again way up the canyon at a nice water fall!

James and his friend taking a break

Johnny and me at a Keene/GPAA Outing with Pat Keene’s crew




Note: A good book we carry - ‘Mines of the San Gabriels’

Note: A good book we carry of this area is: - ‘Mines of the San Gabriels’

Good Links —

Also, on Youtube you can find some good videos for the East Fork San Gabriel Cyn and on the Internet

This is ancient stream bed material (Noah’s Flood period) a couple hundred feet from the bottom of the canyon - gold has been found high and low here on the East Fork!

Here too!

Miners’ at old Eldoradoville

A rainy day on the East Fork

Someone mining away across from Cattle Cyn!

Luis and a couple of old miners taking a break

Gold Nuggets!

Bernie McGrath

My gold from dredging!

Bernie McGrath

Believe it or not, this is gold my friend Luis got from only sluicing!!! Included is a one gram nugget! This was a secret spot miles up the canyon!

Scott exploring

Here’s a more recent video of my trip with my friend Luis up to the Narrows at a good spot not too far away from camp and got some nice gold!

The gold we got, 1 ½ grams (including a little nugget!)

View from Bridge To Nowhere

Baby Southern Pacific Rattlesnake waiting for the sun to come up to get warm

Luis caught some nice trout!

More Photos:

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Me and Luis Azusa trip6112.mp4
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This area has been mined 1600 - 1900 AD by the Indians, Spanish, Mexicans, Chinese and Americans

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Lt. Bob Smith showing off some gold he got up the East Fork and some pieces from the Motherlode - He’s retiring from the force soon and looking forward to some ‘gold fever’ adventures!