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 Name Trails Northeast 9W10, 14W01, 16W05 Northwest 10W09 Southwest 11W06, 12W09 Southeast 11W14, 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
8N 1 5 4 7N 32 26 27 22 18 14 19 17 13 23A 23B 23 8 9 7 16 5 2 3 1 6N 30 53B 53A 53 43 38 32C 13 32 66 24 21 19 18 16 14 8 9 6 4 7 5N 25 17 16 29 30 28 27 24 18 15 14 13 12 11 4 4N 13 37 33 32 24 18 20 15 56 55 11A 11 6 7 16 12 17 47 57 4 3 22 21 3N 59 64 56 54 45 42 36 30 37 38 41 43 35 30 29 32 27 90 19 18 17 14 21B 21A 21 16 9.2 9 7 26.2 8 6 39 2N 94 86 80 76 70 66 65 50 52 45 46 40 23 31 30 25 24 17 16 15 7 4 1N 29 36 26 15 17 14 11 7 10 4
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
19W 18W 17W 16W 15W 14W 13W 12W 11W 10W 9W 8W 7W 10 4 1 2 2 1 2 2 5 9 2 28 12 3 6 3 14 3 5.2 6 2 25 13 6 4 16 5 10 5 8 9 27 13 8 5 7 6 9 13 10 16 7 14 14 17 16 16 22 18 20 19 22 15 23 11
We've added a newer trail not found on the 1995 ANF Map in the Table above and below, the Ken Burton Trail, thanks to input from Sam C. Lin.
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
Number Name Number Name 7W06 3T's Trail 12W05.2 to Colby Ranch/Strawberry Portrero from Mt.Lawlor/Strawberry Peak route 7W08 Ontario Peak Trail 12W08 Bear Canyon Trail 7W12 Mt. Baldy Trail (from Bear Flat) 12W09 Valley Forge Trail 8W13 East Fork Trail (Heaton Flat to Bridge to Nowhere and beyond) 12W14 Mt. Lowe East, Middle Sam Merrill Trail 8W13 Section north from 8W16 12W16 Castle Canyon Trail, Idlehour Trail 8W16 Heaton Flat Trail (to Heaton Saddle) 12W18 Sunset Ridge Trail, Echo Mountain Trail (intentionally blank) 12W19 Ken Burton Trail 8W17 to Upper East Fork San Dimas Canyon (no public entry) 13W02 4N35 to 3N32, connects sections of Trail Canyon Trail 8W22 to Browns Flat (no public entry) 13W03 Trail Canyon Trail 8W28 to Mountain High East (Blue Ridge) 13W05 Condor Peak Trail 9W02 South Fork Trail (part of High Desert National Recreation Trail) 13W06 Gold Canyon Trail 9W10 Upper Bear Creek Trail 13W07 Stone Canyon Trail 9W25 Lost Ridge Trail 14W01 to Jupiter Mountain 9W27 (Crystal) Lake Trail 14W10 Oak Spring Trail 10W02 Burkhart Trail (part of High Desert NRT) 14W14 to Big Oak Spring and Artesian Spring 10W09 Punchbowl Trail, Manzanita Trail (part of High Desert NRT) 15W02 Los Pinetos Trail 11W05 Alder Creek Trail (to Loomis Ranch) 16W02 Burnt Peak Trail 11W06 Silver Moccasin Trail 16W03 Gillette Mine Trail, plus trail in Bear Canyon 11W09 Barley Flats Trail 16W05 Fish Canyon Trail 11W11 (Bailey) Canyon View Nature Trail 16W07 to Warm Springs Mountain 11W13 DeVore (Rattlesnake) Trail 17W01 PCT 11W14 Gabrielino National Recreation Trail 17W05 Devil Canyon, Lake Piru (trail branches) 11W15 Lower Winter Creek Trail 17W06 heads north of Gillette Mine 11W16 Sturtevant Trail 17W16 Oak Flat Trail 11W20 Winter Creek Trail 18W03 to Kesters Camp and Ellis Apiary 11W22 Mt. Wilson Trail (aka Little Santa Anita Trail) 18W04 to Royball Spring 11W23 Upper Winter Creek Trail 18W04 Pothole Trail 12W02 Fall Creek Trail 19W10 to Agua Blanca Creek
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Updated 15 December 2020.