Mt. Lukens via Crescenta View and Rim of the Valley Trails

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Looking north from the Mt. Lukens summit

Looking north from the Mt. Lukens summit

View of the Verdugo Mountains from the Crescent View Trail

View of the Verdugo Mountains from the Crescent View Trail

Mt. Lukens via Crescenta View and Rim of the Valley Trails

    • Location: 3429 Markridge Road, Glendale.   From the 210 freeway, take the Pennsylvania Ave. exit and head north for 1.1 miles.  Turn left on Brookhill St., go 0.3 miles and turn right on New York Ave. Go 0.7 miles and turn left on Markridge, and the park is on the right.
    • Agency: City of Glendale Parks & Recreation (Deukmejian Wilderness Park), Angles National Forest/Los Angeles River Ranger District
    • Distance 10 miles
    • Elevation gain: 2,900 feet
    • Difficulty Rating: R (Steepness, elevation gain, distance, terrain)
    • Suggested time: 5.5 hours
    • Best season: November – May (lot open 7am – sunset daily)
    • USGS topo map: Sunland, Burbank, Condor Peak
    • Recommended gear: hiking poles; sunblock; sun hat
    • More information:  Trip report here; Summit Post page here; Everytrail report here
    • Rating: 9

Mt. Lukens is notable as being the highest point in the city limits of Los Angeles, and also the westernmost major summit of the San Gabriels. There are several routes to the top. This trip makes a loop from Deukmejian Wilderness Park in Glendale, ascending via the Crescenta View Trail and descending via the Rim of the Valley Trail. The views on both legs of the hike are great; if visibility is good, expect to see Old Saddleback, Catalina Island, Santa Barbara Island, the entire Santa Monica range and more. The antennas on top of Lukens prevent it from being one of So Cal’s all-time great hikes, but it’s still an essential peak. The route from Deukmejian is easily accessible to L.A. and the Valley, and requires no Adventure Pass, as the Stone Canyon approach does.

Information board at the start of the trail (click thumbnails to see the full sized pictures)

Information board at the start of the trail (click thumbnails to see the full sized pictures)

From north end of the parking area, turn right at the information board and make your way up into Dunsmore Canyon. You pass by a tree that survived the Station Fire, and the antennas on top of Lukens will be visible in the distance. The Le Mesnager Loop, your return route, branches off to the left at 0.3 miles, and at 0.5, head right (downhill) on a rough-looking single-track, the Crescenta View Trail. This trail crosses the canyon and begins a steep, rugged ascent, climbing about 2,000 feet over the next 2.5 miles. The Station Fire and numerous landslides have made the route difficult to follow in some parts. The good news is that it the steep climb gives some great views pretty quickly, including the Verdugos, the Hollywood Hills and downtown L.A.

0:52 - Steep ascent on the Crescenta View Trail (times are approximate)

0:32 – Steep ascent on the Crescenta View Trail (times are approximate)

A neatly arranged circle of stones, about 2 miles from the start, provides a nice place to take a break, with great views to the south. Beyond this point, the trail begins a steep ascent up a ridge, finally arriving at a fire road signed both as the Pickens Spur and Forest Road 2n76C. Here, you finally get a little bit of a break, as you only have an additional 600 feet to climb over the next 1.8 miles to reach the summit, which is prominently visible on the left.

1:11 - Stone circle and viewing area

1:11 – Stone circle and viewing area

At 3.5 miles from the start, you reach Mt. Lukens Road, where you are rewarded with a great view of the Big Tujunga area of the Angeles National Forest. Strawberry Peak, San Gabriel Peak and Mt. Wilson are all easily seen; depending on visibility, you may be able to see farther to some of the high summits of the back country.

Head left on Mt. Lukens Road and walk the last easy mile to the summit, enjoying great views of the Valley and L.A. At the summit, you can walk to the end of a dirt road and get some more great views to the west.

1:42 - Getting easier on the Pickens Spur

1:42 – Getting easier on the Pickens Spur

You can return by the same route, but to make a loop, continue on Mt. Lukens Road, heading downhill and northwest. After a quarter mile, turn right at the junction and begin a long, winding descent along the mountain’s southwest flank. At 7.6 miles (3 below the summit), the road continues to the right toward Haines Canyon, but to get back to Deukmejian Park, turn left on the steep Rim of the Valley Trail.

1:52 - Head left on the fire road

1:52 – Head left on the fire road

You make some steep switchbacks, taking in great views along the way. There are a few places where the trail clings precariously to the side of the ridge, which may test the nerves of some hikers (particularly those with any kind of fear of heights.) At 8.8 miles, you get a pleasant surprise (well, I guess it’s not a surprise anymore) as the trail dips into wooded Cook Canyon. A seasonal stream runs through the bottom of the canyon, and the shade is a nice contrast from the exposed terrain thus far.

2:20 - You made it!

2:20 – You made it!

After crossing the stream, you make a final, brief ascent, joining the Le Mesnager Loop trail. Now, you’re more or less home free as you turn right and follow the trail back down into Dunsmore Canyon, enjoying a few last dramatic views of the mountains above. At 9.8 miles, you reach the Dunsmore Canyon Trail. Turn right and head back downhill to the parking lot, and give yourself a pat on the back for conquering the tallest peak in Los Angeles.

2:50 - Heading back to L.A.

2:50 – Heading back to L.A.

Text and photography copyright 2013 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or

3:45 - Head left on the Rim of the World Trail

3:45 – Head left on the Rim of the Valley Trail

publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail. Check the informational links provided for up

4:30 - Stream crossing in Cook Canyon

4:30 – Stream crossing in Cook Canyon

to date trail condition information.

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5 thoughts on “Mt. Lukens via Crescenta View and Rim of the Valley Trails

  1. Hi Karen, Thanks for all your volunteer work on the trails. I grew up in La Cañada / La Crescenta but have been living in the Seattle area for the last 23 years. I love going home and running the hills in town and it is great the the fire damage was repaired so quickly. I will be there early next month and would love to run up the Crescenta View Trail to the Lukens road. Will that be OK?

    • Yeah, at least a light jacket. The temperature on the summit will probably be at least 10 degrees cooler than at the trailhead. A jacket or sweater that won’t add much extra weight would probably be a good idea.

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