Lookout Mountain (Angeles National Forest)

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As seen in the Nobody Hikes in L.A. Guidebook!

Baldy from Lookout Mountain
Now you see it, now you don’t: Descending Lookout Mountain’s “trail”

Text and photography copyright 2010 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. The author does not take any responsibility for injuries sustained during hikes or walks on the routes described here. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.

Lookout Mountain (Angeles National Forest)

  • Location: Angeles National Forest south of Mt. Baldy.  From the 210 Freeway, take the Baseline Road exit and go west for 0.7 miles.  Take a right (north) onto Mills, go 1.1 miles and bear right onto Mt. Baldy Road.  Go 8 miles and take a hard left on Glendora Ridge Road (right before Mt. Baldy Village) and drive a mile to Cow Canyon Saddle and park in the big lot on the right side of the road, where space is usually ample.  A National Forest Service Adventure Pass ($5 per day or $30 for the year) is required for parking. Click here to purchase.
  • Agency: Angeles National Forest, San Gabriel River Ranger District
  • Distance: 4.6 miles
  • Elevation gain: 2,300 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: R (Steepeness, elevation gain, trail condition)
  • Suggested time: 3 hours
  • Best season:  All year, depending on conditions
  • USGS topo maps: “Mt. Baldy”
  • Recommended gear: hiking poles
  • More information: here
  • Rating: 9

Timing can be important when climbing Lookout Mountain.  Its elevation of 6,812 feet means it can be a good potential year-round hike–but it can also become very hot during the summer and snowy during the winter, especially on the final ascent, on a north-facing slope.  And even under absolutely optimum conditions, Lookout Mountain presents some challenges of navigation and terrain.

The good news is that Lookout Mountain offers some great views.  Visually, it appears as little more than a bump on the south flank of Mt. Baldy, but it actually provides a considerably different perspective than its neighbor to the north.  You won’t quite get the 360 degree view of the higher peaks, but the views you do get are pretty amazing.

From the Cow Saddle parking lot, take the fire road north and reach a split at about a quarter mile.  Here, you ascend a steep firebreak for about 200 feet and look for a faint trail branching off to the left.  Although hard to follow at times, this trail leads around the west side of the ridge and eventually reaches a saddle.  Your efforts are rewarded with nice views of Baldy and the three “T”s.  Look for the continuation of the trail, zig-zagging up the ridge to the northwest.   This ascent continues for about half a mile–with steep drops on both sides, it might be described as a mini Devil’s Backbone–until the ridge becomes too steep.  A faded trail leads off to the right, contouring around the east side of Lookout Mountain, about 1.4 miles from the start.  The trail becomes more or less unrecognizable, and your route may vary, but the key is to stay as close to the side of the mountain and keep going straight, toward Baldy.  After about half a mile of bushwhacking, you pick up a decent single-track that curves toward the left and heads south to the summit of Lookout Mountain.

From the summit, you get nice views of Sunset Peak to the south, Mt. Wilson and Strawberry Peak to the west, and Ontario and Cucamonga to the east, and of course Baldy to the north.

It should be noted that in addition to providing a great workout and inspiring views, Lookout Mountain is also a good place to spot bighorn sheep.  The peak also has an interesting history, having been used in experiments to calculate the speed of light back in the 1920s.  Was there ever a lookout on Lookout Mountain?  Why yes, there was, until 1927 when it was moved to Sunset Peak.

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