Numbering of Trails and Secondary Forest Roads in Angeles National Forest

Including An Index of Trails and Secondary Forest Roads on the ANF Forest Service Map

The numbering of primary Forest Roads, such as FH59 (Angeles Forest Highway), FH61 (Angeles Crest Highway), and FH62 (San Gabriel Canyon Road) is straightforward. However, it is a mystery to most people how the Forest Service numbers its secondary roads and trails. We have mostly, but not completely, figured out the scheme. Input from readers is solicited to complete our understanding.

The numbering is based on the township and range system, assigned by the federal government survey as part of "settling the West". The township and range numbers are given on the Forest Map and on every USGS 7.5' x 7.5' topo map. The "baseline" for this system in the ANF is the one going through San Bernardino Peak. A new township begins every six miles north and south of this line. Ranges are variable size east and west of this line. See Township And Range Survey System for more information.

On the Forest Service Map, the townships are identified by black letters like "T. 4 N." on the left and right sides. The ranges are identified by letters like "R. 6 W." on the top and bottom.

The roads are given numbers that are based on the township in which the northern end of the road is located. The trails are given numbers based on the range in which the trailhead is located.

Secondary Forest Service roads in the ANF are given the designations xNyy, where x is a number from 1 to 8 and yy is a two-digit number. The number x is assigned based on the township, followed by the N because the ANF is north of San Bernardino Peak, and hence in the northern townships. The number yy is assigned generally from east to west, but not always. See the table below to find the exceptions.

A few short spur roads are designated by appending the letters A, B, C, etc. to the main road's designation. Thus 7N23B is a short spur road originating at 7N23. Similar to the assignment of the number yy, the letter assignment does not always seem to follow a logical pattern.

A few roads and trails have decimal points followed by another digit. We have no idea what this signifies. For example, 3N26.2 exists with no 3N26 on the map, and 3N09.2 and 3N09 are two different roads shown on the map. Curiously, the road sign for 3N17 at 3 Points says 3N17.1, and the ANF map also gives the designation of 3N06.1 and 3N09.1 in inset maps for the roads designated 3N06 and 3N09 on the main map.

Forest Service trails in the ANF are given the designations xxWyy, where xx is a one- or two-digit number from 7 to 18 and yy is a two-digit number. The number x is assigned based on the range, followed by the W because the ANF is west of San Bernardino Peak, and hence in the western ranges. The number yy is assigned generally from north to south, but not always. See the table below to find the exceptions.

The x portion of the name of the roads seems to always be based on the northern end of the road. However, the x portion of the name of the trails is not based on a similar cardinal direction. For example, here are some examples of trails that have ends in different ranges, and use different conventions for the x portion of their names:

End of Trail Used for NameTrails
Northeast9W10, 14W01, 16W05
Northwest10W09
Southwest11W06, 12W09
Southeast11W14, 13W06

We speculate that the names for the trails are based on what the Forest Service considers as the trailhead. In most of the cases above, the trailhead is unambiguous and this rule is followed. In a few cases such as 10W09, the Desert National Recreational Trail, the trailhead could be at either end and hence we cannot verify that this rule is followed in every case.

For both the roads and trails, the yy portion of the name is fairly consistent, but not always followed. Since this is a fairly arcane way to determine names, we speculate that not everyone who has named newer roads and trails has been cognizant of the original convention used to assign names.

The following table gives all the Forest Roads in the ANF identified with a name in the form xNyy on the 1995 Forest Map. The roads are ordered first by township, and then west to east within each township by the location of the east end of the road. The table is ordered similarly to the map in that westernmost roads are on the left and northernmost roads are on the top. However, the roads are not properly aligned in columns, since some townships have many more roads than others. No roads in the San Bernardino National Forest are numbered on the ANF map.

Besides being of interest in understanding the numbering system, this table can also be used to find a given road on the ANF map. Simply look for a given road xNyy in the xth township in the east-west order given in the table for yy. Remember that some areas of the maps have insets!

Drivers should note the information conveyed by the orientation of the route number on roadside signs. Roads maintained for passenger vehicles have signs with horizontal numbers. Roads not maintained for passenger vehicles, i.e., low clearance and 2WD, but possibly passable by high clearance and 4WD have signs with vertical numbers.

Roads On the Angeles National Forest 1995 Map

8N154                              
7N32262722181419171323A23B23897165231            
6N3053B53A53433832C13326624211918161489647            
5N25171629302827241815141312114                  
4N1337333224182015565511A11671612174757432221          
3N5964565445423630373841433530293227901918171421B21A21169.29726.28639
2N948680767066655052454640233130252417161574           
1N293626151714117104                       

The following table gives all the trails in the ANF identified with a name in the form xxWyy on the 1995 Forest Map. The trails are ordered first by range, and then north to south within each range by the location of the north end of the trail. The table is ordered similarly to the map in that westernmost trails are on the left and northernmost trails are on the top. However, the trails are not properly aligned in columns, since some townships have more trails than others. No trails in the San Bernardino National Forest are numbered on the ANF map.

Two trails appear twice on the map, and hence twice in the table. One branch of 8W13 is from Heaton Flat to beyond the Bridge To Nowhere, the other is off the upper end of the Heaton Flat - Coldwater Canyon Trail 8W16. Although the 1985 map shows that these two section once connected, it still seems like they should have been assigned different numbers. Trail 18W04 appears in two completely different locations, and hence this is likely to be a typo on the Forest Service Map.

Besides being of interest in understanding the numbering system, this table can also be used to find a given trail on the ANF map. Simply look for a given trail xxWyy in the xxth range in the north-south order given in the table for yy. Remember that some areas of the maps have insets!

Trails On the Angeles National Forest 1995 Map

19W18W17W16W15W14W13W12W11W10W9W8W7W
1041221225922812
 363 1435.26225136
 4165 10589 27138
  57  6913 1016 
      71414  17 
       1616  22 
       1820    
        22    
        15    
        23    
        11    

Finally, since no one but the Forest Service loves the names of the trail given by the Forest Service numbers, the following table converts that Forest Service number to a real name. If we have found a source that gives a name, the name below ends in "Trail". Sometimes an additional word in parentheses is added to give the location. In some cases, we do not know the name of the trail, if it has one, and hence just give a location or description of what the trail connects. Enlightenment from readers is encouraged.

Forest Service Number and Trail Name

NumberNameNumberName
7W063T's Trail12W05.2to Colby Ranch/Strawberry Portrero from Mt.Lawlor/Strawberry Peak route
7W08Ontario Peak Trail12W08Bear Canyon Trail
7W12Mt. Baldy Trail (from Bear Flat)12W09Valley Forge Trail
8W13East Fork Trail (Heaton Flat to Bridge to Nowhere and beyond)12W14Mt. Lowe East, Middle Sam Merrill Trail
8W13Section north from 8W1612W16Castle Canyon Trail, Idlehour Trail
8W16Heaton Flat Trail (to Heaton Saddle)12W18Sunset Ridge Trail, Echo Mountain Trail
8W17to Upper East Fork San Dimas Canyon (no public entry)13W024N35 to 3N32, connects sections of Trail Canyon Trail
8W22to Browns Flat (no public entry)13W03Trail Canyon Trail
8W28to Mountain High East (Blue Ridge)13W05Condor Peak Trail
9W02South Fork Trail (part of High Desert National Recreation Trail)13W06Gold Canyon Trail
9W10Upper Bear Creek Trail13W07Stone Canyon Trail
9W25Lost Ridge Trail14W01to Jupiter Mountain
9W27(Crystal) Lake Trail14W10Oak Spring Trail
10W02Burkhart Trail (part of High Desert NRT)14W14to Big Oak Spring and Artesian Spring
10W09Punchbowl Trail, Manzanita Trail (part of High Desert NRT)15W02Los Pinetos Trail
11W05Alder Creek Trail (to Loomis Ranch)16W02Burnt Peak Trail
11W06Silver Moccasin Trail16W03Gillette Mine Trail, plus trail in Bear Canyon
11W09Barley Flats Trail 16W05Fish Canyon Trail
11W11(Bailey) Canyon View Nature Trail16W07to Warm Springs Mountain
11W13DeVore (Rattlesnake) Trail 17W01PCT
11W14Gabrielino National Recreation Trail17W05Devil Canyon, Lake Piru (trail branches)
11W15Lower Winter Creek Trail17W06heads north of Gillette Mine
11W16Sturtevant Trail17W16Oak Flat Trail
11W20Winter Creek Trail18W03to Kesters Camp and Ellis Apiary
11W22Mt. Wilson Trail (aka Little Santa Anita Trail)18W04to Royball Spring
11W23Upper Winter Creek Trail18W04Pothole Trail
12W02Fall Creek Trail 19W10to Agua Blanca Creek


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Copyright © 2000-2001 by Jane Strong and Tom Chester.
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Updated 30 October 2001.