While many visitors to the canyon think of Adams Pack Station as just a place to purchase food, drinks, hiking maps and Forest Service passes, it is also the last remaining pack station in Southern California, and the only year-round pack station still operating in the Western United States. The working donkeys at the Pack Station are led on packing trips twice a week to transport supplies and materials to community of historic cabins and Sturtevant Camp, which can only be accessed through narrow trails on foot.
Sturtevant Camp first opened to the public in 1893, during the Great Hiking Era. In the following decades, dozens of cabins were built throughout the canyon until the Forest Service issued the last cabin permit in 1938.
The barn and two-room bunkhouse/store that house the Adams Pack Station were built in 1936, when J.P. Steele of Sierra Madre obtained a special use permit for a pack station, outfitter store, and parking lot at the end of a new road paved to Chantry Flat in 1935. Over the years, the station’s donkeys and mules have been the lifeline for supplies to three active resorts and about 200 cabins accessible only on foot in Big Santa Anita Canyon.
In recent years, Adams Pack Station has become a popular gathering place for hikers and families to enjoy the expanded merchandise and food offerings of the general store.
Despite a continuing series of economic and natural disaster challenges and road closures, all of which constantly threaten ongoing operations, the station has maintained its original mission of providing supplies for Sturtevant Camp and the cabins that remain in the canyon.
You can read more detail about the history of Adams Pack Station at the Historic Marker Database.