shelter #3 Chuck posted in the Forum a little while back, looking for a good place to take his family on a first-time camping trip. He writes:

I’m looking for a hiking/backpacking/camping option that would be a good first trip for my daughters and I.

The wife is a “Car camper”, but I think it’s important to get our girls out into the great wild world.

Since they’re pretty young (9 and 3), I’d be carrying most of the gear. As such, I’d love to find a place that doesn’t require more than a couple of miles worth of trekking to the campsite. Go in, set up camp, cook dinner, roast marshmallows, look at stars… get up, eat, pack and head home. Something quick and easy.

I would definitely call ahead to make sure some of these camps are open, but I can recommend a few short hike-ins:

Spruce Grove Camp is in Santa Anita Canyon. It’s a quiet, creekside camp with vault toilets, but all the water will have to be treated. It’s also right on the border of the Station Fire Closure Area, so I’m not sure if it’s open. Hoegee’s Trail Camp is a bit further south in Santa Anita Canyon and similarly rustic, too, but could be a nice alternative.

If you’re not opposed to drive-in camping, Manker Flat near Mount Baldy is pretty nice, but it may still be too cold up there right now, especially overnight.

The Angeles National Forest has a full list of camp sites with a lot of information, including what kinds of toilet facilities are nearby, and how many spots are available.

Of course, the Santa Monicas Mountains are another option – with good camping in Topanga, Malibu Creek, Leo Carillo and Point Mugu State Parks, as well as near the Circle X Ranch … but I don’t have a lot of experience camping out that way.

Can any readers recommend a good family camp for Chuck with a short hike-in?

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