La Canada Teepee via Crosstown Trail from Harter Lane
- Location: La Canada Flintridge, in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. From I-210, take the Highway 2/Angeles Crest Highway exit. Go north (turn right if you’re coming from Pasadena, left if from the west) for a mile. Just past Glenola Park, look for Harter Lane on the left (it’s easy to miss). Turn left and follow Harter 0.3 miles to the end. Park on the corner of Harter and Bigbriar Way.
- Agency: City of La Canada Flintridge/L.A. County
- Distance: 3.2 miles
- Elevation gain: 1,400 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (Steepness, elevation gain)
- Suggested time: 2 hours
- Best season: October – May
- USGS topo map: Pasadena
- Recommended gear: hiking poles; sun hat
- More information: La Canada Trails Council page here; Article about the teepee here; Everytrail report here
- Rating: 8
If you’re looking for a hike that visits a teepee, a rock garden and a bee keeping facility, the Crosstown Trail of La Canada is the place to go. It doesn’t hurt that on clear days, the views–which include the ocean, the Hollywood Hills, the Verdugos, downtown L.A., the Palos Verdes Peninsula, Strawberry Peak and more–are great. It’s also a major workout – averaging 900 vertical feet per mile. In fact, this hike is very similar to the Vital Link and Garcia trails, providing a short but steep climb–but it’s arguably more scenic.
The Crosstown Trail has several access points. The quickest route to the teepee is from the end of Harter Lane. Follow the paved road leading uphill to the left, past an informational board and a water tank. (The dirt road heading straight will get you to the same spot, but the paved route is quicker.) Stay left as two spur trails branch off to the right.
You don’t have to wait long for the views to open up. As the trail makes its way along the ridge, you get a great perspective on the San Gabriel Valley, the San Rafael Hills and more. At 0.3 miles, turn right at the junction as the trail continues making switchbacks, alternately viewing the valley below and the front country San Gabriel peaks.
The no-nonsense climb continues, reaching a junction at 0.9 miles. While your work has been challenging so far – about 700 feet in less than a mile – prepare yourself for some even steeper climbing.
Head right on the unsigned trail, passing by a few picnic tables, and begin a merciless ascent along the ridge. You do get some great views for your efforts, but there’s no doubt that this stretch – which climbs about 700 feet in 0.6 miles – is not for the faint of heart. Stay right at a split, continuing the climb before the grade finally starts to become easier.
At 1.5 miles, you enter a meadow, where you get great views of Strawberry Peak, Mt. Disappointment and San Gabriel Peak (the latter of which blocks your view of Mt. Wilson, in case you were wondering where that summit is.) Rounding a bend, you see the teepee. There are a few office chairs(!) which allow you to sit and enjoy a wide-ranging view.
This a good turnaround point, but if you feel like going farther, the route continues to the Mt. Lukens Truck Trail (0.1 miles away). On the left side of the trail, look for a garden of small rocks made into a maze-like pattern; a small gold dome that resembles an observatory, surrounded by an electric fence (the presence of which prevented the author from getting a close enough look to figure out the structure’s true purpose) and another fenced-off area, the bee keeping facility.
At the Mt. Lukens Truck Trail, you can enjoy a nice view of the San Gabriels; if you look carefully you can see the Angeles Crest Highway making its way up through the mountains. There’s even a mailbox designating the area as “Bee Flat.”
Make sure that your legs are fresh for the descent; the steepness of the trail is not to be ignored. Take your time on the way down – not just for safety, but to enjoy the great views in front of you. It should not be too much of a surprise that with trails such as this one accessible to its residents, La Canada Flintridge was designated “Trail City USA” in 1996.
Text and photography copyright 2012 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 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 to date trail condition information.