Creekside wedding sites for the wild at heart

November 27, 2008 § 1 Comment

A Part II follow on to “Where to get married on the LA River”

Joe started us Creekfreaks off with good ideas of where to get married along the LA River.  There are wonderful, developed venues for gatherings large and small, that he pointed out.  They have different characters to suit different tastes, and all are beautiful locations. But what if your idea of a wedding falls a little more along the lines of a RenFaire, Robin & Marian under the oaks with Friar Tuck officiating?  Perhaps you want to know that the background trickle of water comes from a natural stream, and be miles away from the electronic whir of a pump?  If the idea of your bridesmaids in hiking boots(or at least tennies) and a reception in a camp or picnic resonates, here’s some good destinations to consider.  Obviously, seasonal conditions are consideration.  Permits or RSVPs may also be needed.  These sites are pretty much for day-use, unless noted otherwise.  Cleanup and respect for the environment is essential (no rice-tossing!).

Large groups

These sites have the capacity to hold relatively larger groups of people, but also work well for small groups.

Hahamongna scene after rains.

Hahamongna scene after rains.

Hahamongna.  Hahamongna watershed park in the City of Pasadena offers a range of backdrops.  There’s a willow-dominant wetland area, especially where Flint Wash enters the park, and there’s a large oak woodland picnic ground area.  You can accommodate a hundred or more people in the picnic area, and there’s public parking on the grounds.  Trails abound, so your guests can sneak off into the…er, never mind.

How to get there:  210 Fwy to Berkshire. Go east on Berkshire to Oak Grove. Turn left. Entrance to the park will be on your right.

Link to Hahamongna.

oak tree with wooden platform (dancefloor?)

Oak tree with wooden platform (dancefloor?) at Temescal Cyn

Temescal Canyon Park.  This well-known and used park in Pacific Palisades offers several picnic areas.  It is easily accessible for older folks, with parking near the picnic areas.  One long picnic area with mature old oak trees runs along Temescal Creek, another is a grassy plain in a filled-in basin above the creek, lined with sycamore trees for shade.  There is also a pretty straightforward meeting room facility that can be rented, as well as public facilities such as restrooms on the grounds.

How to get there:  PCH to Temescal Cyn Road.  Follow the road past Sunset into the park.

Link to Temescal.

Chantry Flats (aka Big Santa Anita Canyon).  A wonderful outdoor destination, although not for the feeble.  If your party is up for hiking in 4 miles, you can rent the services of pack animals to transport your wedding gear, and really get married away from it all at Sturtevant Camp (and here’s another link), a private group camp for retreats and gatherings. They even have a “honeymoon cabin” for the lucky couple!  The rest of your guests can stay in other cabins at the Camp, or rent tent spots at the regular USFS campground a few yards away.  You will be in the midst of a Big Spruce pine forest, with Big Leaf Maples, California Bay, and Sycamores towering overhead.  Tributaries of Santa Anita Wash trickle by.  Your guests can take day hikes to Mt. Wilson and the West Fork of the San Gabriel River.  To present all sides of the story here, being way up in the mountains, you can be beset with unexpected excitement.  All the same, just writing about Sturtevant makes me want to go hang out there tomorrow!

How to get there:  210 Fwy to Santa Anita Avenue.  Keep going north til you can’t go any further.  Park at Adams Packing Station/USFS parking.  

Link to USFS who manages Chantry Flats (but do follow Sturtevant Camp link for cabin rentals). Link to general Big Santa Anita Canyon page.

Small groups

Arroyo Seco, below Colorado Street bridge.  When talking about marriage, furtive really isn’t a good adjective to use.  However, there may be something a tad furtive about staking out a spot along this natural reach of the Arroyo Seco – although Arroyo Blvd runs along it, access is not super easy.  You may feel like you’re getting away with something, hiking down the trail to be married creekside.  Given the confined feeling of the trails and the relatively small open areas along the stream, this is definitely a small-wedding site.  Like you, your beloved, a couple of friends or family, and the officiating officiator.  I guess this is more like an elopement destination…worth it for the views and bubbling stream!  Anyway, you can have your reception/picnic downstream at Lower Arroyo Park, or upstream at Hahamongna.  Or, of course, any of the many restaurants and gathering places in Pasadena.  (By the way there is also a campground a short way up the Arroyo Seco trailhead near JPL that could make for a nice reception – just more of a hike than this site)

How to get there:  for the romantics –  110 to Ave 64/Marmion.  Right onto Marmion, left onto Arroyo Drive – drive along the arroyo for a while, til beneath the Colorado Street Bridge (or turn into Lower Arroyo Park and walk up the channel trail til you get there).  For the pragmatic (although I can’t imagine someone pragmatic getting married here!) – take the 134 to San Rafael Ave, south to Colorado.  Take the fork of Colorado that goes down to the Arroyo/Arroyo Blvd (sign says “Rose Bowl”). Park where legal.  

Link to Lower Arroyo Park


El Bosque del Rio Hondo

El Bosque del Rio Hondo.  Also amusingly called Marrano (Pig) Beach by many locals (I doubt there are pigs there).  El Bosque is a very beautiful reach of the Rio Hondo, with white sandy beaches and picnic facilities and parking for small groups.  This is a gorgeous spot!

How to get there: 60 Fwy to south on Rosemead Blvd. Turn right at Durfee.  There will be a sign near the corner on your right, leading to a parking lot.

Link to El Bosque

Walnut Creek Park.  Situated in a steep canyon in the San Gabriel Valley, this 2-mile long County park provides a mature oak woodland canopy with views of meadows.  Small groups can create comfortable picnic grounds, and the creek provides a scenic backdrop for the actual ceremony.  This is a popular area for equestrians, so don’t be surprised if you have visitors on horseback.

How to get there:  10 Fwy to Grand Ave, go north.  Right on Badillo St., right on Cypress, and right on Valley Center Ave.  Follow it all the way down into the canyon.  There is parking in the middle of a stand of oaks.

No link Walnut Creek!


No doubt, with a little research and field exploration, you’ll find that there are even more wonderful creekside campsites and picnic grounds within the LA area that would accommodate your wedding!  These are just a few among many favorite sites.  Good luck!


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