- Location: Angeles National Forest. From I-210 in La Canada, take the Angeles Crest Highway (route 2) northeast for 26 miles to the turnout for the Chilao Flat Visitor Center (not to be confused with the turnout for the Chilao Campground, which comes earlier if you’re coming from L.A.) Turn left, and drive 0.7 miles to the signed Silver Moccasin trail and park in the small dirt lot. A National Forest Service Adventure Pass ($5 per day or $30 for the year) is required for parking here. Click here to purchase.
- Agency: Angeles National Forest/Los Angeles River Ranger District
- Distance: 5.8 miles
- Elevation gain: 1,100 feet
- Suggested time: 3 hours
- Difficulty rating: PG-13 (Altitude, distance, elevation gain)
- Best season: Year-round (depending on conditions)
- USGS topo maps: Chilao Flat
- Recommended gear: hiking poles; insect repellent
- More information: here; here (alternate route); Everytrail report here
- Rating: 8
This loop hike to Mt. Hillyer and the Horse Flats Campground is an enjoyable and varied trip. Mt. Hillyer doesn’t have much of a summit, but there’s plenty of eye candy on the way up and down, and you’re likely to have some nice solitude here. Mt. Hillyer is a good training hike for more difficult high altitude summits.
From the road, head north on the Silver Moccasin trail. The trail switchbacks up the ridge, taking in nice views to the south along the way. Look for Strawberry Peak, Mt. Lawlor and some of the other front country summits. There isn’t much shade, but a few pines, oaks and manzanitas do provide a little cover.
In a mile, you reach a split where the Silver Moccasin trail continues to the right. Head left, soon arriving at the Horse Flats Campground. Look for the signed Mt. Hillyer trail. The ascent continues, passing by a clearing where the views to the south extends all the way to Old Saddleback in Orange County. There are a few spots where the trail is vague, but when in doubt look for footprints or bike tracks.
Soon, you arrive at the summit (2.5 miles). The views aren’t great, but you can see Mt. Pacifico to the north. There are two small knolls and after the second, the trail dips down to an attractive meadow, one of the more scenic parts of the route. You make a steep descent, soon arriving at the Santa Clarita Divide Road (3.3 miles.)
Head right on the paved road. In half a mile, you reach the north end of the Horse Flats Campground. Head right, and then right again at the next intersection. In 0.7 miles, you’ll return to the Silver Moccasin trail, completing the loop. Retrace your steps back down the mountain to your car.