Mt. Williamson, Angeles National Forest

Top 11 hikes of ’11!

Greetings hikers – I hope that 2011 was a great year for you on the trails and off.  As this year winds down, I’ll share with you my 11 favorite hikes I did in 2011.  Maybe some will be familiar to you; maybe some will be targets for you in 2012.


#11) Sandberg/Golden Eagle Loop – while it may be a drive for many L.A. residents, the unusual desert/mountain landscapes of this loop in a remote corner of the Angeles National Forest are well worth a visit.

#10) Old Boney Loop – this 10-mile loop through Point Mugu State Park’s rugged back country features wide-ranging mountain and valley views, secluded canyons and a seasonal waterfall.

#9) Newton Canyon Waterfalls – speaking of waterfalls, if there’s been heavy rain, you get to see two on this section of the Backbone Trail, which visits some of the most attractive lands in the Santa Monica Mountains.

#8) Manzanita Mountain – on a clear day, this 3,100-foot peak shows off some phenomenal views of the Antelope Valley.  The approach through Placerita Canyon is part of the fun, too.

#7) Wildhorse Creek Trail Camp – great views of San Gorgonio Mountain and Sugarloaf are highlights of this 8-mile hike in the San Bernardino National Forest.

#6) Cedar Springs – one the best hikes on the Desert Divide, this challenging trip up the spine of the San Jacinto Mountains has great desert views on one side and forest views on the other.

#5) Devil’s Canyon – recently re-opened after the Station Fire, the Devil’s Canyon is a classic San Gabriel Mountains hike, visiting some of the most remote country in the range.

#4) Throop Peak – this 9,100-foot summit provides great views of the back country of the Angeles National Forest, in particular Mt. Baldy.

#3) Ontario Peak – like neighboring Cucamonga Peak, Ontario features dramatic views of the Inland Empire, the Santa Anas, the San Jacintos and more; and it shares the scenic (and challenging) approach through Icehouse Canyon.

#2) Smith Mountain – one of the unsung gems of the Angeles, Smith’s dramatically steep climb to the summit yields some amazing 360-degree views.

#1) Mt. Williamson – with views of the high desert, the L.A. basin and more, a strong case could be made for Mt. Williamson as being the second-most scenic peak in the Angeles behind Baldy.  Some might even argue that this 8,214-foot summit is #1 in the San Gabriels.  It’s #1 for the NHLA’s 2011 season, in any case.

So there we are – out of nearly 200 hikes posted in this blog, these are the cream of the crop.  Thank you readers, and have a happy new year!


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